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If you’re a reader, you’ve probably noticed that every new book involving a complicated woman, a couple of twists, and a seemingly vague, female-centric title has been trumpeted as “the new Gone Girl.” At first I found this device irksome—I’d be annoyed if I wrote a novel and everyone compared it to another one written only a few years prior—but I fully understand why publishers make that proclamation.
Gillian Flynn‘s game-changer has sold eight million copies since its 2012 release, spawned a critically-acclaimed, David Fincher-directed blockbuster, and single-handedly birthed a new genre of literature being dubbed “domestic noir” that has publishing houses tripping over themselves looking for the next big thing.
I loved “Gone Girl”—while my daily reading list isn’t always jam-packed with bestsellers, I found myself completely lost in the novel both times I read it. While, sure, the batshit-crazy characters and now-legendary second-act twist were sensational, it was Flynn’s smart, sometimes dangerous writing that made the book, for me, a real winner. Which is why I’ll occasionally pick up another novel that heralds itself as GG’s successor. And there have been plenty.
Here, a selection of novels that explicitly have been given the title “The New Gone Girl” by critics and media. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they’re deserving or not. Check out the list below, and let us know how many you’ve read!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Early this year, a slew of headlines—including one on this very site—declared this thriller a worthy “Gone Girl successor, if not for the writing style, then for its creation of flawed, mercurial female characters who will, for lack of a better phrase, give you the creeps.
What it’s about: Set in England, the novel unfolds through three interchanging points of view—all women, all unreliable. At the center is Rachel Watkins, a divorced alcoholic prone to blackouts who’s been sacked from her job at a PR firm, but—too ashamed to tell her roommate—she wakes up every morning and boards a commuter train into London, and returns every evening.
During her daily commute, Rachel gazes out the window—often a few pre-mixed gin and tonics in, mind you—and sees the same attractive young couple sitting outside their house right off the tracks. Feeling like she knows them, Rachel makes up names for the couple, assigns them professions, and takes notice of their every move. After it becomes news that the woman in the couple has gone missing, Rachel realizes she may have seen something that could be considered a crucial piece of information.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Like she did with”Gone Girl,” Reese Witherspoon has also signed on to produce a big-screen version of this can’t-put-it-down novel, written by former Cosmo editor Knoll.
What it’s about: We meet TifAni FaNelli—a lower-middle-class Pennsylvanian living in New York City who now goes by Ani—at 28 years old and it appears she has it all: A finance-working WASPY fiance, a glossy women’s magazine job, a Soul Cycle devotion, and a one-bedroom Tribeca apartment. Naturally, underneath the patina, she’s a slightly psychopathic disaster due to things that happened to her the super-ritzy Philadelphia private high school her parents sent her to after getting caught with drugs at Catholic school.
The story alternates between present-day Ani and high-school TifAni, filling us in on how she became the way she is. And then there’s a twist. A really, really big twist.
Disclaimer by Renée Knight
The buzz over this new novel is reaching fever pitch: The New York Times gave it a rave, while the Daily News wrote that Disclaimer forms a trinity alongside “Gone Girl” and the “The Girl on the Train” as the best of domestic noir.”
What it’s about: The book opens with our central character—award-winning documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft—getting violently ill in the bathroom after picking up a seemingly innocuous book called “The Perfect Stranger” on her night table. We soon learn the reason for her reaction: She reads just enough to realize it’s the story of her life—including the life-ruining secret she’s kept for 20 years. Oh, and the book’s “disclaimer”—the blurb about it being entirely coincidental if the novel bears resemblance to anyone living or dead—has been crossed out in red.
Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
Though it’s not as mass-market as Gone Girl, Lacey’s languid novel has been grouped in with the bestseller for obvious reasons.
What it’s about: The narrator, Elyria, flees her seemingly perfect New York life, leaving behind a job at CBS, an Upper West Side apartment, and a professor husband a decade older, and doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She ends up in New Zealand, where she finds a poet she met once at a party who casually said she should visit one day. The novel’s main theme is ennui—Elyria’s someone, we learn, who has trouble existing. Eventually, we get plenty of backstory about why she’s this way—and learn more about her marriage and why she fled.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
This novel also features a missing young woman, and a pretty major twist.
What it’s about: The daughter of a prominent Chicago judge and his socialite wife, Mia Dennett—an inner-city art teacher—enters a bar to meet the guy she’s been seeing. When he doesn’t show, she gets drunk and goes home with a handsome stranger named Colin, who she assumes will be a fun one-night stand. She assumed way wrong: Colin’s job was to kidnap Mia as part of an extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan goes south when Colin impulsively decides to instead hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota. A major twist at the end makes this one worth reading.
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
“What if Gone Girl moved to Zurich?” was a Telegraph headline about this buzzy psychological novel that was praised for its lyrical prose and urgent sex scenes.
What it’s about: Bored by her nice but dull-as-hell Swiss banker husband, Anna—an American living in the suburbs of Zurich—decides to cheat, only to get addicted to infidelity. It’s not a thriller the way “Gone Girl” is, but it fits squarely in the “domestic noir” category, and paints a vivid picture of depression and boredom.
The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
This spare, slightly clinical novel—published in 2013—has drawn dozen of comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s book, with Vogue writing: “For those who loved Gone Girl… The Silent Wife is a quick-witted marital pas de deaux featuring a psychotherapist and her philandering husband.”
What it’s about: Jodi and Todd—a nice-looking, high-achieving couple in their 40s who live in a waterfront condo in Chicago—are at a bad place in their marriage. He’s a cheater, she’s perpetually in denial, happy with the fact that he comes home to her every night. But then, Todd reveals he’s leaving Jodi for a younger woman, and she kills him—which we’re told on page two. From there, the story unfolds in alternating perspectives, while we figure out how these people, once very much in love, get to the point where a reserved wife eventually snaps.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Critics called this novel—which isn’t billed as YA, but tends to lean that way—2013’s “Gone Girl” thanks to its twisty plotlines and dueling narrators.
What it’s about: Fifteen-year-old Amelia has seemingly jumped off the roof of her ritzy Brooklyn private school, but her single lawyer mom receives an anonymous text message: “She didn’t jump…” We soon learn about Amelia’s life—quite different than the one she embodies at home, as we figure out how she really died. Because it’s about high school, McCreight feels the zeitgeisty need to tell part of the story via Facebook posts, text messages, and email newsletters, which you’ll enjoy or detest, depending how tech-savvy you are.
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
While it lacks the sophisticated snap of Gone Girl, fans of domestic noir should check this one out.
What it’s about: We meet New York therapist Grace Reinhart Sachs as she’s about embark on a publicity tour to promote her buzzy book about relationships called You Should Have Known. She also cares for her tweenage private school son Henry and adores her pediatric oncologist husband, Jonathan.
The story starts by offering readers a look into the lives of private-school moms, until Grace learns one of the mothers was found murdered. From there, Grace—already anxious—becomes more so as her husband disappears, and she’s forced to face facts about her seemingly idyllic mate.