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5 Books Like Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl has gained quite a large audience since its publication in 2012. It has made it to the #1 position on the New York Times bestseller list and has been adapted into a critically acclaimed feature film. It is apparent that many people have enjoyed the book. The book's popularity has also engendered a new fascination with the suspense genre and many readers are going out to look for more books like Gone Girl. If you're one of those people, then this article is for you. Below, I've listed 5 books that are similar to Gillian Flynn's popular thriller. Hopefully you'll find something that interests you.
1) You Only Get Letters from Jail
You Only Get Letters from Jail (originally published in 2013) is Jodi Angel's second short story collection. It is composed of 11 short stories, each one following a different young man through a segment of his life. Many of the stories are quite dark and the protagonists in these stories are often filled with regret, sorrow and bad intentions. The common thread that runs through these stories is that in each one a young adolescent man must face something that forces him to transition into adulthood (and not always in the way that he would've liked). You Only Get Letters from Jail is a very well-written collection and Angel does an amazing job at imbuing her characters with a striking sense of realism and humanity. Not only that, but she is a master at getting you to relate to these men, even if you would normally have nothing to do with them in your own life.
I highly recommend You Only Get Letters from Jail if you're interested in reading something like Gone Girl. The two works are obviously different in terms of structure: one is a full-length novel and the other is a set of short stories. However, the similarities aren't in the structure of the books, they're in the atmosphere, the mood and the scenarios presented in each work. The narratives in both Gone Girl and in this collection are dark and gritty. They both have that "small-town America crime drama" feel to them. And of course, both Gone Girl and You Only Get Letters from Jail will, at times, make you feel more than a little uncomfortable. Even if you're not a fan of short stories, you still might want to at least take a look at Jodi Angel's collection if you're a fan of Gone Girl.
2) The Dinner
The Dinner is a novel by Dutch author, Herman Koch. It was originally released in Dutch in 2009, but an English translation was published in 2012. The story takes place in an expensive restaurant in Amsterdam. Two couples are meeting each other for dinner. However, things are not as quaint as they appear on the surface. The husband in one of the couples is a former high school teacher who is currently unemployed. The husband in the other couple is a politician who stands a good chance of becoming prime minister. These two men are brothers and each of them have a fifteen-year-old son. The two sons have committed a serious crime that was captured on camera, but no one is aware of who the boys are (aside from the parents). As the dinner progresses, we get to see both how the conversation degenerates and just how far these two couples will go to protect their children.
There are a few similarities between The Dinner and Gone Girl that I want to mention. The first, and probably most notable one, is the darkness that is present in both novels. While this book isn't really violent in the way that Gone Girl sometimes is, the characters in it are just as dark as you can find in Gillian Flynn's book. Another similarity are the unreliable narrators who tell each story. In Gone Girl we have Nick and Amy, neither of whom are entirely trustworthy. In The Dinner, the narrator is one of the brothers, Paul, who is pretty unpredictable in terms of his thought processes. The last similarity between the two books is the fact that key plot elements aren't revealed right away. This follows from the fact that we have unreliable narrators telling us what happened. They won't give us a complete picture right away. In short, The Dinner is a unique story that elicited many of the same feelings that Gone Girl did for me.
3) The End of Everything
The End of Everything is a crime novel by Megan Abbott that was published in 2011. The story revolves around the disappearance of a young girl named Evie Verver and her friend Lizzie's attempt to investigate it. Before the disappearance, Lizzie and Evie were as close as two friends could be. They played together all the time and shared all of their secrets with each other. Additionally, Lizzie was enchanted by the teenage life of Evie's older sister and by the friendly nature of her family. Things were going perfectly well for Lizzie and Evie, until Evie vanished. With no clues other than a maroon-coloured car, Lizzie begins her own investigation into Evie's disappearance. As she delves deeper into the mystery, Lizzie begins to uncover clues that cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her friend.
The End of Everything is primarily similar to Gone Girl due to the fact that both novels are quite disturbing. This novel is arguably more disturbing than Gone Girl because it involves children (technically young teenagers) while Gone Girl's characters are adults. Additionally, we're given another unreliable narrator in the form of Lizzie who is not always completely accurate in conveying the events of the story. Another thing that both books have in common is the seemingly unending supply of twists and turns. One of the best parts of Gone Girl, in my view, were the curve balls in the plot that Flynn threw at you. The End of Everything has plenty of these as well and Abbott takes you right to the very end of the story before revealing all of the details. Overall, this is a haunting story and there's a good chance that it'll keep you up at night. If you liked the darker, psychological elements of Gone Girl, you should like The End of Everything.
4) Save Yourself
Kelly Braffet's 2013 novel Save Yourself tells the tragic story of some of the residents of a small town in Pennsylvania. The story involves the convergence of two separate plot lines. The first plot line involves Patrick and Mike Cusimano, the sons of a man who is serving time in prison for killing a child while driving under the influence. These two men are by-and-large disliked by the town due to their father's past. The second plot line involves Layla and Verna Elshere, two sisters who have recently enrolled in a public high school. Like the two brothers, the girls run into trouble with their peers because their father was responsible for having a popular teacher fired. When the paths of these two groups meet, the stage is set for disaster to occur.
The setting of Save Yourself is highly reminiscent of Gone Girl. Both are set in small towns where people are not very well-off. Consequently, the descriptions of the towns in both stories are quite similar. There's also the gloomy atmosphere that's present in both this and all of the other stories on this list. But aside from that, both Gone Girl and Save Yourself have characters in them who are forced to deal with scrutiny from the public. In Gone Girl, Nick is required to cope with the pressure coming from the media after the disappearance of his wife. In Save Yourself, Patrick and Mike are alienated by the rest of the town because of their father's crime while Layla and Verna are bullied at school because their father got a much-loved teacher fired. Moreover, things only get worse for all of these characters as the stories progress. Ultimately, Save Yourself is a dark tragedy, so if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for, check this one out.
5) The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train (published in 2015) was written by British author Paula Hawkins. It's a psychological thriller that tells the story of Rachel Watson, a woman known for her heavy drinking. Rachel has recently separated from her ex-husband Tom, who was involved in an affair that resulted in his lover having a child. Every day, Rachel takes the train to London and sees the house that she used to live in along with another couple who live nearby. She makes up stories about this other couple in which they are living a perfect life. One day, however, one of the members of the couple goes missing and Rachel becomes involved in a police investigation of the disappearance. From this point onward, the story unfolds through the eyes of three different narrators and only gradually do the layers of deception get peeled away.
Hawkins' story has been claimed by many to be the next Gone Girl. I don't know if that's the phrase that I'd use, but I can certainly echo the sentiment. The Girl on the Train has several similarities with Gillian Flynn's novel. First of all, there are the parallels between the characters. The titular "girl on the train" (Rachel) can easily be compared to Amy and her ex-husband Tom is analogous to Nick. There are obviously differences between the characters, but I'd say it's fair to compare those ones. The other major similarity between the two books is in the narrative choices that were made by both authors. Firstly, both books have multiple first-person narrators (in Gone Girl it's Nick and Amy and in The Girl on the Train it's Rachel, Anna and Megan). Secondly, this style of storytelling is employed in order to keep the reader guessing. As in Gone Girl, Hawkins uses unreliable narrators to convey a skewed version of the story so that you never know (until the end) what exactly is true and what is not.
One last note that I'd make is that The Girl on the Train, like Gone Girl, has a movie adaptation. I've embedded the trailer for the movie below.
The Girl on the Train (Official Trailer)
And that's the end of my list. If you've read or enjoyed any of the books on this list, then feel free to leave a comment. I'm also curious to know what you thought of my list. I've made a poll below that you can vote on that asks which book on this list is the best recommendation for fans of Gone Girl. If you know of any other books that didn't make this list (but should have), then please let us know. I'd be interested to read your suggestions.