Spoilers abound, so be warned.
And Triggers. Domestic Violence, Rape, Murder. BS fucking rape culture and victim blaming. I just can’t even.
When this book came out, I remember people raving about it. Raving. Bestseller, on all the must-read lists, personally recommended to me. So finally, I read it.
And I hated it. Hated. It.
From the first page, when Nick is creepily talking about the shape of his wife Amy’ skull, I knew this was not going to be a book for me. First of all, did I mention that it really creepy? Second, it was crystal clear to me that Nick was not going to be responsible for his wife’s disappearance. It was way too obvious. Of course, part of me was still hoping it was him. (To me, the twist-that-wasn’t would have been a better, scarier, more realistic literary point). As the book points out, when a woman is killed, her partner becomes the prime suspect. That’s for a good reason – forty percent of murdered women are killed by a partner.
Then I was hoping against hope that Amy’s creepy, stalker ex had her tied up in his lake house. Again, this is a horrible thing to be wishing, but at least it would fit in a bit more with actual patterns of abuse. Yes, this is kinda what happens in the end, but not before we hate Amy for being a sociopathic liar who deserves whatever happens to her.
She is painted as a woman who never deserved Nick in the first place, who drove him to cheat, who expected too much of her husband because he expected to listen to her when she talked. I mean, what guy has time for that when he’s busy imagining her bones?
She manipulates people, tells horrible lies, falsely accuses a nice, geeky guy of raping her, then pretends to be the perfect Cool Girl to snag the lovely clefted-chin Nick. Yeah, Nick’s no saint, but can you blame him for wanting her to return from wherever she’s hiding out so he can kill her? Dear reader, admit it, you hoped that when he wrapped his hands around her throat he’d have the ability to see it through.
No no no no no. No.
I can hear people now: “But it’s just a book! Stop taking it so seriously!” I will take this shit seriously because it deserves to be. It’s another story celebrated and held up to be edgy! and suspenseful! The reviews on goodreads are nearly uniformly positive. Those that aren’t tend to focus on the characters becoming increasingly unbelievable as the book goes on, without delving into why they are so unbelievable. It’s because this shit doesn’t happen. (Yes, I know it’s a book. No, I’m not saying women never abuse men.)
Count me among those not interested in reading books that glorify this type of BS.
Bureau of Justice report on Intimate Partner Violence 1993 – 2010 (non-fatal incidents)
Another Bureau of Justice report on Intimate Partner Violence (fatal and non-fatal incidents)
No Safe Place: Violence Against Women
Shakesville: Domestic Violence Awareness Month; Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
and for Liss on all topics: More