10 books for the Gone Girl crowd


Thank goodness someone finally made a list of books like Gone Girl, right?

Groan, I know. Ever since Gone Girl was published/became the superstar of the psych suspense litworld, there seems to be a law requiring 1 out of every 3 books to have "Perfect for fans of Gone Girl" emblazoned upon its cover, and there are hundreds of readalike lists for Gone Girl already available. The problem is how wildly inaccurate they can be. Girl on the Train, while a fine book in its own right, is NOTHING like Gone Girl. They'd be introduced by the host of a party with a well-intentioned, "OMG - you two are just perfect for each other," but their similarities are so superficial, it would be an awkward evening for both of them.

Gone Girl became a phenomenon not because it was simply a good psychological suspense novel with an unreliable narrator and plot twists that kept readers in a perpetual state of imbalance, but because Flynn took these basic trappings of the domestic thriller and forced the reader to examine their own romantic relationships, providing a powerful cautionary tale of what ill-will can fester when a relationship slides into complacency. It's a twisted love story about how restlessness can infect a relationship when it seems like only one of the parties is contributing to keeping it afloat and the lengths a person can go to in order to avoid stagnating into "comfortable" and losing that spark of the early days of romance. It's about how a good relationship is work and requires effort, respect, and sacrifice, and if one person isn't pulling their weight, they can be scolded for this in a very destructive way.

That's not something you're going to come across in many books, nor would you want to. And while I understand that readalike lists aren't meant to provide exact matches for a title, too many of them seem like lazy catch-all groupings of "any psych suspense book written by a woman or featuring a problematic female character."

And I think we can do better than that.

So, here is a list of ten books that share specific elements with Gone Girl, and use them well, without being audacious enough to claim to be "just like" Gone Girl. Several predate Gone Girl (some by a LOT), so there's no copycatting here - just some books that may appeal to the Gone Girl fan whether the reader is drawn to marriage thrillers, books with unreliable narrators, antiheroes, twists, missing persons, "he said she said" structures, or just general psych suspense, written well.

There were some honorable mention titles that I cut to keep the list to 10, and there are many more excellent readalikes out there in the genre, but these are the ones I think represent the broadest range of appeal factors while also including some lesser-known books.

If none of these look like your thing, there's no shortage of other Gone Girl lists out there, believe me!