In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments!
Even though I primarily write about nonfiction on the blog, I do still love to read really great fiction because I love to get lost in a good story. And, I’ll be honest, because I like being able to read the books that everyone seems to be talking about. I don’t always get that buzzy community fannishness with nonfiction, you know? So in today’s reviewletts, I’m going to share some brief thoughts on a couple of popular books I read and really loved.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (Source)
It’s really better to go into Gone Girl knowing as little as possible about the plot of the book because the twists are part of what makes it such a fun read. But in addition to being a fun mystery/thriller, Gillian Flynn does a remarkable job of really exploring the psychology of these very distinctive narrators. I tend to like my fiction with a little bit of an edge or a little strangeness, and this book has it in leaps and bounds. Oh, and Flynn can flat-out write. The prose just pulls you in. Overall, Gone Girl was a good, suspenseful, unsettling read that I recommend picking up.
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his father’s legacy as one of London’s flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine. His once-quiet life is suddenly overrun by mad monks who worship John Ruskin, psychopathic serial killers, mad geniuses and dastardly villains. On the upside, he catches the eye of bright and brassy Polly, a woman with enough smarts to get anyone out of a sticky situation. In order to save the world and defeat the nefarious forces threatening it, Joe must help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago, and he must summon the courage to pick up his father’s old gun and join the fight. (Source)
There are just so many things about the description of Angelmaker that got me super excited for this book. Like I said before, I like my fiction with a bit of weird… and this book has a TON of craziness in it. But at the heart of a plot that feels a bit like a madcap James Bond movie is a really careful constructed story about a man coming to understand himself and his place in the world. It has a lot of heart, in the midst of mystery/spy thriller/love story about the potential end of the world. This one was a really delightful read, and it made me excited to read more from Nick Harkaway.
Disclosure: I borrowed Gone Girl from my local library and purchased a copy of Angelmaker for myself.