One of the most talked about books of the past year was Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. It was everywhere. I lost track of how many people I knew who read it. It was all up and down various bloggers’ end-of-the-year lists. It won the thriller category of the Goodreads Choice Awards by a landslide.
And every time I see it mentioned, I feel… not like I’m the only person who hasn’t read it, not like I’m the only person who has no intention of reading it, but that I’m the only person who has a specific intention of not reading it. And, along with the conviction not to give in to my curiosity, I feel an irrational anger about the fact that so many people loved this book.
Months before hearing anything about Gone Girl, I’d picked up another Gillian Flynn book: Dark Places. It was a well-crafted, well-written story; Flynn obviously has talent. But it wasn’t for me.
I wasn’t invested, mainly because I didn’t like any of the characters at all. Now, I’m not saying that characters always have to be likable, because obviously there are a lot of good books where that’s not the case… but in the absence of any character that I connect with, there has to be something else for me to hold onto. Curiosity to see how the story ends, unfortunately, isn’t quite enough. It may get me to finish a book, but I’ll be left unsatisfied in the end and give it, at best, a 2-star rating… which is exactly what happened with Dark Places.
In general, if the first book I read by an author gets two stars from me, I don’t read that author again. That’s a guideline, though, not a hard and fast rule, and given just how much buzz Gone Girl was getting, I couldn’t help wondering if I should make an exception. But I have seen negative reviews (few and far between), and the common thread, among those who raved and ranted alike, seems to be how seriously messed up the characters are. Sound familiar?
Sure, Gone Girl may have that mysterious “something else” that I was looking for in Dark Places, and I may end up liking it better. I suppose it’s possible that I’ll think it’s just as amazing as everyone else seems to. I’ll never know if I don’t read it, right? But, curiosity be damned, why should I feel this pressure (mostly self-induced) to spend time on a book, knowing all the while there’s a good chance it will be just another 2-star read?
I’m thankful that the hype has died down a little and I’m no longer confronted with this book everywhere I turn, because I don’t like feeling that irrational anger. Still, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way about a book, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
What are some books that you’ve wanted to read, not because you actually thought you’d like it, but just to see what the fuss was about? Did you give in to curiosity? And if so, was the book worth it?