Review: Gone Girl
I don’t often read outside of my comfort zone. I love Science Fiction and I love Fantasy and not much else holds my interest. Every once and a while though I’ll take a risk and venture outside my safety bubble. GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn was recommended to me with infectious enthusiasm. It wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but the premise was perplexing and so I decided to give it a shot. WOW, I am so glad I did not let this one pass me by.
On the morning of Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary she goes missing. As the investigation gets rolling evidence leads the police and the public to suspect the obvious: it’s always the husband. There is more to the story than Nick Dunne will let on but does that necessarily mean he is to blame for the disappearance of his wife?
It’s always the husband. Right? Maybe not…GONE GIRL is the best sort of book. This is the sort of novel that will challenge your preconceived notions. This is the sort of novel that will absorb you fully and not let you go until you flip the final page. Even then you are bound to continue mulling it over in your head. This is the sort of book that dominates your conscious, whether you’re at work or school or whatever it is you people do. I don’t take time to reflect on books as I read them. I just don’t have the luxury. With GONE GIRL I was pausing every fifty pages or so to contemplate what it was that I had read. And even then I finished it in a few sittings. I got this book on a Tuesday and had finished it by Thursday night. At 400 pages and given the concerns of daily life that is no small feat.
So what makes GONE GIRL such an addictive book? For starters it is incredibly well written. From start to finish, GONE GIRL is a nearly flawless psychological thriller. The book is told from two perspectives, Nick’s and Amy’s. Nick’s POV picks up the day Amy goes missing and continues on with the investigation. Amy’s POV is past-tense, told in the form of diary entries leading up to the disappearance. For the entirety of the novel Nick maintains his innocence, but he also confesses to a number of indiscretions. The entries from Amy’s diary paint a very different picture of Nick, as well as a very different picture of Amy. Readers will experience the two falling in and out of love, the highs and lows of the marriage, from two perspectives that don’t quite match up.
The characters of Nick and Amy are real people. At least that’s how it feels. Flynn crafts remarkably authentic characters and utterly believable relationships. I developed genuine feelings for both leads, feelings that morphed and grew over the course of the novel. It’s impossible not to care about these people. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily likable. I’ve seen some complaints that they aren’t “likable enough.” Well yeah, that’s true in a sense, because they are placed under a high intensity microscope. The deeper you look into someone the less you will find to like. But it goes both ways. The deeper you look into someone the more you can find to admire. I had anxiety over finishing the novel because I cared that much about these characters.
The ancillary characters are also well drawn. It takes no effort at all to picture these people and their motivations and their relationships. There is no shortage of suspects, even though all of the evidence seems to be pointing in one direction. It is enough to make you wonder how thoroughly the media influences perception. Everyone always assumes the husband is to blame but that’s what we have been conditioned to believe.
GONE GIRL is a psychological thriller of the highest order. Hitchcock style. The suspense is almost unbearable. Horror movie directors need to take some freaking notes. This is how you do it. GONE GIRL is too involved for a movie but I would love to see it picked up and developed as a television mini-series. Even when I expected one twist I was still floored when my revelation came true. It’s just that good. There is some very dark, very twisted stuff here but none of it is beyond the realm of belief. And that’s what makes it so creepy. This could happen to you. It could happen to me. I really, really hope this doesn’t happen to me. It just goes to show you, sometimes the most disturbing thing of all is not knowing someone half so well as you think.
Recommended Age: 17+
Violence: Uh, wow I guess there really isn’t any violence. But it is discussed.
Sex: No real sex here either, but there is discussion of sex.
GONE GIRL got the Amazon Book of the Month for June 2012. Everyone is reading it. Don’t be the last loser to pick it up after everyone has already ruined the ending. Buy it here.