Amy Gentry’s debut novel Good as Gone is the story of thirteen year old Julie Whittaker who is kidnapped at knifepoint out of her bedroom while her younger sister Jane watched in horror. After eight long, grueling years filled with the rest of the Whittaker family struggling to cope with this loss, a woman claiming to be Julie appears on their doorstep. As much as Anna wants to believe that it is her daughter, a private detective raises her doubts, thus sending her on a desperate search to uncover the truth.
On the Book of the Month Club website, where I first heard about this novel, Good as Gone is described as a “gem in a world cluttered with lousy thrillers.” However, I can’t help but disagree. The lack of character development leading up to Julie’s return made it quite challenging to empathize with the complex mixture of relief and doubt that Anna, Tom, and Jane were inevitably feeling. Furthermore, the strained communication between the characters makes it quite difficult to fully understand their perspective on the events of the novel. While I understand that this tension was mostly the result of Julie’s disappearance and reappearance, I found it very hard to empathize with the characters when they couldn’t even empathize with each other.
I also found the overall structure of the novel to be quite choppy and very detrimental to Gentry’s attempt at building suspense. The changing of names in each of the past chapters is so confusing that it hinders the reader’s ability to fully understand what this person claiming to be Julie endured over the eight years that she was missing. As a result, I found the end of the novel to be very abrupt and ultimately, lacking the closure I was looking for.
Although the overall plot of Good as Gone proved to be slightly more interesting that I had anticipated, the unlikable characters and lack of suspense left me very unimpressed. To compare this book with an absolute masterpiece like Gone Girl, as Refinery 29 did is just ridiculous in my opinion because Good as Gone is nowhere near the same caliber of writing. Ultimately, I found myself being motivated to keep reading in hopes of my opinion changing instead of being truly captivated by the plot.
Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts were on Good as Gone by Amy Gentry or what your favorite thriller is!
2.5 out of 5 stars