I’ve been thinking a lot about spoilers lately. You can’t really talk about them without citing them, so if you’re really averse and somehow magically haven’t had Gone Girl ruined for you yet, you might want to click away.
With all the book-to-film adaptations* this fall—perhaps not more than usual, but more than I usually have any interest in—I dedicated my vacation reading to finally getting to two books I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while, before the movies could ruin them for me. I might just be the last person to read Gone Girl, and I wasn’t exactly early to the This Is Where I Leave You bandwagon. Fortunately, my experience with the latter was spoiler free—the only thing I’d been forewarned about was that it was really, really good.
Now, this isn’t me getting on my soapbox about spoilers, because I tend to think that if you aren’t passionate enough to prioritize something you don’t get to quell the conversations of those who are. (I’m almost always the late one, so I’ve come to this via zen-like acceptance of my own bad impulses to get angry at someone for talking about something they care about, as if talking about something you care about isn’t a fundamentally important part of the human experience that I value highly.) I know there was also that whole thing about how people actually like spoilers, contrary to what they think, but I’d argue that it changes your experience anyway, in a way that’s interesting but not ideal. I know I get distracted by spoilers, and it takes me out of the experience of really enjoying the thing in the way I otherwise would. To each their own, of course, but I’m not going to start seeking them out, and I’ll still probably have to ban myself from social media on Sunday nights when all the good TV is on for the rest of eternity.
But sometimes—like when you’ve put off reading one of the buzziest books of the last few years until the eve of the release of a film adaptation and you work in publishing—spoilers are not entirely avoidable. To be fair, I wasn’t totally spoiled with Gone Girl. I somehow made it all this time without finding out exactly what the twist is. When Stacey read it for DGLM book club, I fled the room. But I can’t imagine it’s possible at this point to have heard of Gone Girl and not know there’s a twist. And like all books (or films) that are built around a major plot twist, knowing there is one is pretty much spoiler enough. It didn’t take me long into the book to realize that there was really only one option people would actually have been impressed with in the way I knew people were. Unfortunately, while I found it clever and admirably crafted and insightful—that “cool girl” diatribe is everything—I missed my chance to have the opportunity with the novel that so many others did.
The thing about thrillers, or mysteries, or other twisty types of fiction is that I really enjoy the puzzle of trying to figure it out before I’m meant to, but I don’t like it when I win. I want the author to best my whirring brain and catch me by surprise.
So having finished Gone Girl with quite a bit of like and admiration, but no love, I’ve made a pact with myself: next time a big buzzy, mysterious novel comes along, I’m reading it right away.
*Like The Maze Runner, based of course on DGLM’s own James Dashner’s novel of the same name. I know I’m biased, but I thought it was a perfect adaptation. Exactly what you always hope book-to-film can be, but it almost never is.