Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Release date: June 5, 2012
Rating: 5 out of 5
Their life together wasn’t perfect—after five years, it was safe to say they’d left the honeymoon phase—but Nick Dunne never expected this. On the morning of their anniversary, his wife, Amy, went missing.
Amy, a gorgeous and gregarious blonde, instantly becomes a poster woman for missing wives, making national news. Nick, unsurprisingly, becomes the main suspect in the investigation. As pressure mounts on Nick, his indiscretions and betrayals seem more and more telling.
But did he do it?
In chapters alternating between Nick’s increasingly desperate search for Amy—and his attempt to clear his name—and old diary entries of Amy’s that detail how their blissful life together devolved into something more sinister, the story pulls readers into its convoluted web.
After all, how well do you really know anyone—even (especially) the person you’ve pledged your life to?
Warning: This isn’t exactly a review, per se. In order for me to explain why I loved this book so much—to the point of considering a 6-out-of-5 star ranking—I would need to spoil the ending for you. Normally, I don’t mind writing reviews with spoilers, but I just can’t on this one. You have to experience it for yourself.
I pride myself on being fairly observant while I’m reading, but the plot twists (and there is more than the big one everyone mentions) caught me entirely by surprise. It’s sort of like strapping in for a theme park ride. For the first part, you go up and down and around a bit. You’re enjoying it, but kind of chuckling to yourself, “This is it? I’ve been on much crazier rides!” And then the bottom drops out, and you scream your head off for the last half.
With complex characters, a dizzyingly intricate plot, and insight into relationships—not just between spouses, but between fathers and mothers and siblings as well—Flynn is a master storyteller. She takes unreliable narrator—one of my favorite devices, when done well—to a whole ‘nother level. She explores how the people we know shape us, for better or worse, and she dives into the ways you truly discover who someone else is as time goes on. And, although the book’s power is derived from its keen observations of people and their relationships, Gone Girl is also a look at an America slumping in the recession.
This was one of those books that kept me up half the night to finish it, and the other half thinking about it. One of my reading friends who took me up on the recommendation told me that it seemed unrealistic—that no one is that complex or twisted. But in my opinion, Gone Girl is a perfect example of how characters don’t need to be likable to be compelling. As a reader, you get sucked into their vision of the world, and you spend days trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t.
Gone Girl was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Quotes of Note:
They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish—expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other’s spaces liquidly. Making it look easy, the soul-mate thing. People say children from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.
My dad was a man of infinite varieties of bitterness, rage, distaste. In my lifelong struggle to avoid becoming him, I’d developed an inability to demonstrate much negative emotion at all.
Sometimes I feel like Nick has decided on a version of me that doesn’t exist.
Amy made me believe I was exceptional, that I was up to her level of play. That was both our making and undoing.