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Boil My Bunny While You’re At It

Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is an unapologetically mean book about terrible people, and Jennie loves it.

Boil My Bunny While You’re At It

BOOK REPORT for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Cover Story: On Her Way Out
BFF Charm: Hell No
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Cuts Like a Knife
Bonus Factor: Celebrity Childhood
Relationship Status: Fatal Attraction

Cover Story: On Her Way Out

To me, the cover suggests just catching a glimpse of someone who turned a corner or left a room. It’s appropriate for the noir tone of the book.

The Deal:

Nick and Amy Dunne have been married five years – they met in New York City, before moving to the South. By all appearances, they are the perfect couple, until Amy disappears on their fifth anniversary. Nick is immediately the prime suspect in her disappearance (it’s always the husband, right?); while the police hunt for clues and Nick protests his innocence, we meet Amy through her diary entries. Is Nick really innocent? Is Amy still alive? Where is she?

It’s difficult to sum up how excellent and intriguing this book is without spoiling it (AVOID SPOILERS FOR THIS ONE!), especially when I tell you how unlikeable all of the characters are. You’ll have to trust me, especially if you like dark stories that lead you inside a really messed up person’s head, lock you there, and throw away the key. Maybe even if you don’t.

In case you’ve somehow missed the way this book has dominated pop culture, this is probably a good time to mention that it’s not YA. 

BFF Charm: Hell No

No one in this book is particularly likeable – most are downright horrible – which is the beauty of the book. How can a book with such awful people be so captivating? At a certain point you cease to care about how completely screwed up and terrible everyone is, because you want to know if they will sink even lower. Flynn does an excellent job of creating characters that are almost likeable in their unapologetic cruelty.

In short, I’m not inviting any of the characters over for a beer and hair-braiding session lest they stab me with a broken bottle.

Swoonworthy Scale:  0

This is not a swoony book, unless you’re turned on by horrible people doing deliciously horrible things.

Talky Talk: Cuts Like a Knife

I love Flynn’s prose: her well-chosen words create a world full of broken glass and trapdoors, where, just as you think you have figured everything out and have avoided harm, the bottom falls out and you’re forced to reevaluate everyone and everything.

The best part of the book for me was the “Cool Girl” speech, which I have referenced when the subject of dating comes up, and every woman who has read this book lights up. The “Cool Girl” speech lays it all out there with surgical precision -- a nasty version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl concept. 

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. 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.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. 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. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

Bonus Factor: Celebrity Childhood

Amy’s parents were child psychologists who wrote a hugely popular children’s book series called “Amazing Amy.” The moniker follows Amy around, even in her adult life, much to her annoyance – people who loved the books would fawn over her parents, who, in Amy’s view, wrote the books about the daughter they wished she had been. It’s so absurd that I would chuckle every time it came up. That would make for a really obnoxious childhood.

Casting Call:

Since the movie’s coming out, let’s just go with the Hollywood picks, shall we?

Rosamund Pike as Amy

Ben Affleck as Nick

Neil Patrick Harris as Desi

Relationship Status:  Fatal Attraction

I think the safest place for me, book, is behind this nice locked door with guards out front. I love you, but I don’t want to come home to a boiled bunny.

FTC Full Disclosure: I checked my copy out from the library. I received neither money nor a pet unicorn for writing this review, despite how hard I wished for one.

Jennie's photo About the Author: Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. She is also a literary agent. When she's not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, and thrifts for vintage everything.