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5 Books like Gone Girl: Parallel Lines

Jane Howarth itcherHave you read ‘Before I Go to Sleep’, ‘The Girl on the Train’ and ‘The Husband’s Secret’? These books like ‘Gone Girl’ will send you along parallel perspectives on the same story, split off to follow two separate timelines, then switch tracks completely with a sudden twist. ~ Jane Howarth

Books to Keep You on Your Toes

Imagine if Gillian Flynn had written ‘Gone Girl’ as a straightforward thriller – no double dealing, no hidden truths? I’ll admit it, that would probably still be a pretty great book, but it really wouldn’t be the same.

Each of these books shares a theme or two with ‘Gone Girl’, but they’re also a little different because when you’re dealing with twisting plots, you want to be surprised, right?

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ (S. J. Watson, 2011)

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“It’s so difficult, isn’t it? To see what’s going on when you’re in the absolute middle of something?”

Recently made into a movie, ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ (Rowan Joffé, 2014), you’ve got a tough choice to make – read the book first or jump into the film?

Christine wakes up every morning to find her memory erased. The only people in her life are the men who she meets every day, a husband who doesn’t want her to go through the daily trauma of re-learning her life and a psychologist who encourages her to find ways of piecing together her lost memories.

But something’s not right. And this being a book like ‘Gone Girl’, you’ll be persuaded you’ve figured out the truth only to be pulled in the opposite direction by the time the next chapter’s over.

Similarity Match: 90%
Another unsettling thriller, a cast of characters we can’t trust – it’s a brilliant alternative to ‘Gone Girl’.

‘The Girl on the Train’ (Paula Hawkins, 2015)

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“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head…”

A commuter gets on at the same carriage, stares out of the window on the way to London each morning and drinks gin on the return journey.

Then she notices the couple who eat breakfast together every day until one morning, something’s wrong. And then we meet Megan, the breakfasting girl, a year earlier.

Like ‘Gone Girl’, this book submerges us in one perspective then lets us see the cracks – and it’s just as addictive. I got the e-book sample after seeing the reviews stack up, and when I reached the last page I couldn’t wait to order the complete novel. Ooh, the suspense of those few minutes!

Similarity Match: 85%
Multiple perspectives from damaged narrators make this book a great ‘Gone Girl’ substitute – just swap the setting for the Home Counties.

‘Sister’ (Rosamund Lupton, 2010)

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“Because you are my sister in every fibre of my being…”

As Bee recounts the story of her sister’s disappearance, we get drawn into three strands – life before the awful realisation, Bee’s life since, and her struggle to make headway when it seems like the investigation has stalled.

If you’re looking for more dark thrillers that are really easy to get into, I think you’ll like these other authors like Gillian Flynn and Rosamund Lupton, including Truman Capote and his true crime masterpiece.

Similarity Match: 80%
With a sister leading the search, and a different set of twists and turns, ‘Sister’ is similar enough without giving you deja-vu.

‘The Husband’s Secret’ (Liane Moriarty, 2013)

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“Nobody tell Pandora a word about the jar. Nobody tells her not to open the jar. Naturally, she opens the jar…”

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author who has earned an international reputation for page-turning reads, so you might have come across this one – or you might have found it through Richard and Judy’s unstoppable book club.

Tupperware orders and school fetes give way to flashbacks of a heart-breaking tragedy our first narrator witnessed by sheer misfortune. And then we come back to the Pandora’s box – the letter that turns her life upside down.

But now it’s time to meet two more women, each with their own earth-shattering events to handle, so we’ve got to wait a while to find out the whole story. ‘The Husband’s Secret’ takes place in a cosier world than ‘Gone Girl’, which I think made it harder to watch the characters suffer.

Similarity Match: 70%
As in ‘Gone Girl’, ‘The Husband’s Secret’ lets us see the narrator’s thoughts – and while it’s not quite the same sort of thriller, it’ll pull you in with its own domestic suspense.

‘The Letter’ (Kathryn Hughes, 2013)

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“This time she was going to die, of that she was certain… She could feel the warm, sticky blood as it ran down the back of her neck…”

After a comfortable little domestic scene, we’re plunged into an opening line that’s straight out of ‘Gone Girl’ as Tina tries to survive life with her abusive, gambling, alcoholic husband in the 1970s. She’s about to uncover an old love letter, though, and it’ll send us back thirty years for the next part of the story.

The writing isn’t anywhere near as subtle as Gillian Flynn’s layer upon layer of suggestion. Remember that husband? Well, his character is established over a couple of pages, with fags, bookies and all, making this a simpler page-turner.

Similarity Match: 65%
Love and abuse cross over (and cross the decades) in a less complex book like ‘Gone Girl’.


What’s Up Next?

Sure, the last two aren’t quite thrillers like Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, but hopefully there’s still plenty of intrigue to keep you glued to the page.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to re-read thrillers as often as other novels, just because they lose a bit of momentum once you’ve pieced the story together. Which means I’ve got to keep finding new ones!

If there are any movies similar to ‘Gone Girl’ that didn’t make the list, add them in the comments.

Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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