I can’t believe I’m about to recommend a horror movie. This feels weird. But The Cabin in the Woods is the kind of movie that creates a lot of confusing emotions, and I bet that’s the kind of praise that producer and co-writer Joss Whedon would hope for. Five college kids enjoy a road trip to an isolated mountaintop cabin, complete with a peaceful lake, sinister locals, and a cellar full to bursting with creepy memorabilia. If it sounds too much like a stereotypical slasher, that’s because it is: this cabin is being controlled remotely by a full staff of suited, vaguely government-looking people who are manipulating the kids’ behavior the way the Gamemakers manipulated The Hunger Games (Push the red button for more fire, pull the green handle to unleash monsters, that kind of thing).
This film was shot in 2009 – well before the success of Thor and The Avengers made Chris Hemsworth bigger than his small but hilarious role as the not-so-stereotypical jock – but it wasn’t released until 2012. If you’ve remained unspoiled since then, somehow, I won’t ruin your fun in watching this movie unspoiled. But I will say: it’s darned surprising. Every time you think you have this film figured out, you find out it goes just a little bit further, and gets a little bit better, than you’d imagined. But this recommendation comes with a warning: The Cabin in the Woods is funny, and smart, and satirical, and downright fun, but the fun of lampooning horror movies can’t be had without actually showing a horror movie, so there are lots of seriously graphic scenes here – definitely stay away if you can’t handle on-screen violence. But if you can, and if you’ve ever wondered: “why?! Why on earth do people like these dumb slasher flicks? What are we, as a society, and as an artistic culture, getting out of it?!” here’s a well-made movie that will offer some interesting answers.
If you’re looking to start reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today, you might be out of luck (make sure you place a hold!), but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the library empty handed. Feel free to visit us at the Reference/Information desk, and we can help you find books that read similarly to Gone Girl (or any title that you’re looking to read.) If you’re looking from home, the catalog can provide read-alike suggestions. You just need to search for the book, and select “details” to the right of the title and book cover. Once you are looking at the details about the book, you can scroll down to “Suggestions and More” where you will find similar titles and similar authors. Here are some suggestions for Gone Girl read-alikes.
The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
How is it like Gone Girl? Both books are suspenseful, the story alternates between the husband’s and wife’s voices, and highlight marital woes.
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
How is it like Gone Girl? Both books are suspenseful, have complicated plots, and feature discrepancies between what is being said and what is actually happening.
Defending Jacob by William Landay
How is it like Gone Girl? Both books focus on crime and family, with nimble and smart writing.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
How is it like Gone Girl? Both books are suspenseful, darkly funny, and feature unlikable and unreliable narrators.
Die for You by Lisa Unger
How is it like Gone Girl? Both books are psychological suspense novels that evolve from different perspectives.
If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven (or virtually any other high-tech/high-energy heist film), you’re familiar with the plot of Star Wars: Scoundrels. Danny Ocean – I mean, Han Solo – enlists a crack team of a eleven people with specialized skills to steal a ridiculous amount of money. Headed up by Han, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, this handful of ne’er-do-wells makes a bold attempt to steal 163 million credits in a make-or-break heist that could get Han out from under Jabba’s thumb for good. Or, it could get him (and all his accomplices) killed. There are two surprises at the end of this novel – one of them involving a whip and a gigantic boulder – and for those two alone, it’s worth reading. It’s also a lot of fun to re-enter the world of Star Wars and Han Solo: they’re enduring favorites for a reason, and this well-told, twisty tale does justice to that legacy.
Scoundrels takes place in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the first Death Star (aka, right after A New Hope). The general public has only sketchy information about that debacle: they know that Alderaan is a cloud of space debris, and that the Death Star is now gone, but rumors of Rebel involvement are hardly realistic – surely a scrappy ill-funded few could never stand against the might of the Empire? And that, the central theme the original Star Wars is built upon, is what makes Scoundrels a success too. Surely this band of misfits can’t beat down the impossible odds against them and come away alive, let alone successful? But instead of Palpatine’s evil Empire, it’s a high-security vault owned by a powerful criminal organization. And instead of Danny Ocean, it’s Han Solo (who absolutely, positively, shot first).
Showtime’s critically acclaimed series Homeland stars Claire Danes as CIA counterterrorism agent Carrie Mathison, who has just received startling information from one of her contacts: an American POW has been turned. Months later, US Marine Nicholas Brody (played expertly by Damian Lewis) is found alive in Afghanistan after being presumed dead for eight years. Though his return is heralded as a great victory and he is touted as a war hero, Carrie is certain that he is working for al-Qaeda. She goes behind the back of her superiors, setting up illegal surveillance equipment in Brody’s house and monitoring him at all times, doggedly pursuing the truth at any cost.
I could give you a list a mile long of adjectives describing how great this show is (compelling, thrilling, captivating, mind-blowing, etc.), but nothing I can think of really does it justice. The acting, particularly Danes in her portrayal of a very zealous woman suffering from bipolar disorder, is absolutely superb. The story will grab ahold of you and not let you go, with twists and turns that constantly keep you guessing where Brody’s allegiance lies. I finished the entire first season of this show in about two days because I couldn’t stand to not be watching it. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this series, but make sure you plot out several hours of free time to watch it. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.
Liza Klaussmann’s debut novel, Tigers in Red Weather, follows two cousins, Nick and Helena, throughout the decades after World War II and chronicles the twists and turns in their lives. The girls grew up spending much of their time together on the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard and return over the years with husbands, children and family secrets galore.
Told from the point of view of five characters (with each character’s version of reality differing greatly), Tigers in Red Weather’s concludes with a stunning twist, which was just slightly evident throughout the novel. I enjoyed Tigers in Red Weather for the banter between the characters on life pre and post World War II but when I began to see the true nature of one of the characters, the book moved in an entirely different direction – a direction that is as much frightening as it is shocking.
I’m going to tread very lightly with this review, because to spoil any plot point of Gillian Flynn’s masterful suspense novel Gone Girl would be a crime against anyone planning to read it. Nick and Amy Dunne were once young and in love. But now, on the fifth anniversary of their wedding, their relationship is crumbling and neither spouse seems happy. It is on this day that Nick receives a phone call from a concerned neighbor: the Dunne’s front door is wide open, the living room is trashed, and Nick’s wife nowhere to be found. Anyone interested in the true crime genre could tell you that the husband is always the first suspect, but did Nick really do it? Told in alternating chapters of Nick’s perspective when Amy goes missing and Amy’s diary entries chronicling their relationship, the novel plays with the narrators’ unreliability to keep the reader guessing every step of the way.
I’ve heard a ton of buzz about this book all summer and trust me, it is all well-deserved. The fast pacing and many twists and turns make this book painful to put down, even for just a minute. This is no average whodunit; in addition to being a captivating mystery/thriller, this is also an intriguing character study about what happens when relationships go wrong and when your spouse isn’t quite what they seem to be at the beginning of the relationship. I finished this book three days ago after reading it in two sittings, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I highly recommend Gone Girl to anyone looking for a unique mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
After finding out that her husband has just accepted a job in Luxembourg, Kate Moore is secretly thrilled that she can move to a foreign country and leave her deepest secret behind in the United States in Chris Pavone’s debut thriller/mystery, The Expats. After the family settles in their new home country, her husband, Dexter, throws himself into his job working long hours and taking many work related trips.
Kate begins to fill her days with children’s playgroups and lunches with other expat wives who she has met. Quickly, she makes friends with Julia, another expat and her husband, Ben who live in Luxembourg with their young children. After some time, Kate begins to have misgivings about Julia and Ben and is convinced they are not who they seem. Kate is thoroughly convinced that they know her secret and they are working to expose her.
She sleuths into Julia and Ben’s background and she discovers their true identities. At this point the plot takes so many twists and turns, it becomes confusing and hard to piece together at times. The conclusion is ambitious, creative and completely unexpected. Overall, I really enjoyed Pavone’s debut novel even though the plot didn’t always come together as I would have hoped, but I am looking forward to Pavone’s next thriller.
In Last Night in Montreal, the debut novel by Emily St. John Mandel, Lilia Albert’s entire life has been a series of appearances and disappearances since she was abducted by her father when she was a young girl. By growing up this way, it is no surprise that she continues to weave in and out of other’s lives as an adult. During a short stay in New York City, she meets Eli and swifty moves in with him. Early one morning after telling Eli she is going for coffee, she fails to return and after looking everywhere for her resigns himself to the fact that she has disappeared. Some time later, he receives a postcard stating that she is now living in Montreal and he leaves on a quest to find her which leads him on a strange and unexpected journey. St. John Mandel threads the past and present together with an ethereal quality and tells the story of Lilia and those she has left behind throughout her life. I really loved Mandel’s writing and characters, but I have to admit the ending left me with more questions than answers. St. John Mandel has proven to be a gifted writer and I have just started her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, which I hope to blog about soon.
It’s so lovely when a novel can turn a well-worn trope into a fresh, lively story. Just as she did with time travel in The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger turns cliches into something more in Her Fearful Symmetry. The story follows 21 year old twins Julia and Valentina, who inherit their aunt Elspeth’s London flat and fortune on the condition that they live in the dwelling, without their parents or any other chaperone, for one year. The catch: Elspeth, mute and invisible, has clung to her flat and haunts it – and she’s getting stronger every day. Don’t groan! It sounds horribly cliched – identical twins; an inheritance contingent upon ridiculous demands; London; ghosts – but it’s so much more than it seems. Elspeth is the estranged twin sister of Julia and Valentina’s mother, Edie; the elder sisters have a history of secrets that Niffenegger unravels throughout the tale. Even more impressive is the host of delightful secondary characters: Martin, an obsessive-compulsive neighbor who writes crossword puzzles for a living, and his estranged wife Marijke (pronounced Mah-RYE-Kuh); Robert, a cemetery historian and Elspeth’s former lover; even the white kitten the twins adopt has personality and verve. They call him “The Little Kitten of Death.”
It’s a beautiful, unusual tale that unfolds slowly and doesn’t pander to the reader. Both of Niffenegger’s novels tell the stories of ordinary, although perhaps quite unusual, people who must find a way to navigate a frightening, supernatural situation. She tells the tale at the pace she wants, rather than dropping in action sequences and extra dialog where they don’t belong. If you liked the style of The Time Traveler’s Wife, you’ll be pulled in by this ghostly, ethereal tale. I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was excellent in that format; a perfect companion for rainy springtime commutes!
Long Gone, the new thriller from Alafair Burke, is a suspenseful roller coaster of a novel where everything appears one way but, in reality, is completely the opposite. Recently fired from her job at a prestigious art museum in New York, Alice Humphrey is thrilled to be approached by a complete stranger, Drew Campbell, during an art gallery opening. Drew offers her a fabulous proposition – a dream job of managing an up-and-coming art gallery funded by an anonymous, wealthy patron. After a few initial doubts, Alice accepts the offer and begins to make her mark on the art world.
After the initial flurry of a successful opening, Alice begins to enjoy her new career until one morning a few weeks later. She opens the gallery and discovers the space is completely empty and the body of Drew Campbell is on the gallery floor. Quickly, the evidence begins to mount against her and the police believe that she killed the man who she thought to be Drew Campbell, but has been identified as someone else. Knowing that she has been set up, Alice desperately sets out on a quest to clear her name and find out the truth. While searching for answers along the way, Alice discovers even more hidden secrets involving her own family’s past.
Long Gone is a page-turning mystery with an intense and intricately woven storyline. Highly recommended!