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Special Feature: Why do you want the next GONE GIRL?

Here at ManuscriptWishList.com, we noticed that lot of wishes were for the next GONE GIRL (and who can blame them? Jessica, for one, totally plans to go to the midnight showing and make a signature Punch and Judy cocktail).

But what about this work made it so successful? WHY did so many people fall in love with it?

We asked the publishing experts–the people who added GONE GIRL (or a book like it) to their wish lists.

Here are their responses (in the order they came in):

Natasha Simons, Simon & Schuster

Why do I love Gone Girl? Because I finally read what I’d been thinking and feeling for so long, laid out starkly on the page:

For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.

Gone Girl is so refreshing in its misandry, so revelatory in setting a dope of a man for a fall, so positively anti-Franzen – I think women were really excited by that. They breathed a sigh of relief that not only did they hate the male character, so did the author, for once. This book was such a turning point for me that I now use a litmus test for new friends over whether they’re Team Amy or Team Nick. I can’t be friends with Team Nick.

Peter Senftleben, Kensington Books

Purely as a reader, I marveled at the intricate planning of GONE GIRL. While I didn’t find either lead likable (did anyone?) or the ending satisfying, I was compelled by all of the twists and deviousness along the way. (I’m curious to see how the movie changes the ending, and if I like it better.) And as an editor, I would love to find another project that taps into that awe-inspiring plotting and suspense, where the reader really has no clue what’s in store from chapter to chapter.

Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

There are so many great quotes from this book! I love the Cool Girl quote, but also these particular ones oddly stood out to me when I read.

“A lot of people lacked that gift: knowing when to fuck off.”

“He did apologize profusely. (Does anyone do anything profusely except apologize? Sweat, I guess.)”

They are quotes that just made me laugh out loud despite how intense the book could be at times. I love that. Excellent writing makes you feel all the emotions. I also love how the book had some really great feminist quotes despite having such a twisted female character. Her wit was razor sharp and I felt at times I wanted to root for her even though what she was doing was totally crazy. The book truly showed how women are multifaceted and complex.

Annie Bomke, The Annie Bomke Literary Agency

I read GONE GIRL in three days.  I was sick with a cold at the time, and had no energy to do anything else.  It’s funny how reading a book when you’re sick can color your view about it.  I remember feeling that there was something feverishly horrifying about the characters and their relationship.  Had I not been sick, I might have appreciated this more.  I remember finding them both somewhat unlikable.  Him, because he seemed so stupidly in denial about himself and their relationship, and her, because she was vengeful to such an extreme.  But the writing and the plotting were so clever and well-done that I was still able to enjoy the book.
The one part that really resonated with me was Amy’s rant about the “cool girl” archetype: “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”  The pressure of living up to this unreal archetype for her husband and having him cheat on her almost salvaged her character for me and excused the craziness of her actions.  Almost, but not quite.  (I still think the rant is fantastic though, because it sums up exactly how I and all my single friends feel sometimes.)

In spite of my issues with characters, I think GONE GIRL rightly deserves the praise and attention it’s received.  Gillian Flynn is a fantastic writer who’s not afraid of crafting dark, damaged characters and allowing them to stay damaged throughout the book, and I really admire that.  I also love psychological thrillers that delve into the relationship between a couple, especially if there’s something twisted at the root of that relationship.  A psychological thriller about a couple that I really loved was BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S. J. Watson.  So I would love to see the next GONE GIRL, just with more likable characters.

Jessica Sinsheimer, The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency

I love the fact that the entire book hinges on how well Nick and Amy know each other, how well they remember small details, the moments that stay with them because they’re paying attention. Most of us don’t remember these things as well as they do–but they are, if nothing else, present. They have to be. The stakes are so high.

I actually bought a copy of GONE GIRL months and months before I finally read it. I picked it up and, for whatever reason, and set it down. This happened at least twice. Finally, I decided I am going to read this book. I got to about page forty–and then, well, there went my weekend. (This doesn’t make sense now. Rereading the first page, I think it’s great. Still not sure what happened there.)

The emotional and aesthetic ranges are so broad here, which I love. A lot of this feels like a merging of genres, which I think has to do with its enormous success. If they weren’t trying to harm each other with how well they know and remember each other–if they were planning to do just about anything else with this information–the book could actually be very romantic. If Amy did something different with the concept of The Cool Girl, she’d be on to something very smart, nuanced, and justified about society–and could create positive change. They start out with very normal problems: lost jobs, moving home, fitting in, and if they’d ended up together after most other stories, it’d be a happily ever after.

It’s a thriller, yes, but at its heart, it’s a book about a relationship–even if it is a (really) twisted one.

I know a lot of people hate the ending, but I love it–it makes you look at other couples who appear just fine and wonder what they’ve been through to get to that point (and how well they’re actually doing now).

Brent Taylor, TriadaUS

It’s Flynn’s unabashed prose. She holds nothing back, she’s a risk-taker. It’s exhilarating.

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