Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was published in 2012 and won all kinds of awards and was very highly praised by many as well as by some big names in crime writing. I had to read this book to see what all the hype was about especially since I’m a crime fiction fan. I have just finished it and I feel dumbfounded. For a number of reasons really but let me first fill you in on what this novel is about from GoodReads:
“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?”
Gone Girl is written from the perspectives of both Amy, the wife, and Nick, the husband. The story alternates between Nick’s perspective, told in the story’s present where Amy has vanished, and Amy’s perspective which is told through a series of diary entries beginning the day the couple first met. The first reason for my dumbfoundedness (made up word) was the way Nick talked about their relationship and his wife. There was so much hate oozing off the page and despite my shock at such a relationship it kept me reading. I had to understand how the relationship got this way since the beginning has Amy’s diary entries talking about a wonderful, easy relationship when they met. Naturally this sets you up to make some assumptions about who the guilty party is in this domestic disappearance.
There is indeed a big twist in this book once the diary entries catch up to the present and you now hear Amy’s perspective from the present. No spoilers here, however, I will say this twist is reason 2 for dumbfoundedness. The mess that ensues is dark and utterly terrifying if I’m honest. I could see only one ending that would bring justice to all who deserved it but again I was left dumbfounded in the end by how it turned out and how these people made it so. These characters are raw, dark, and no one I would ever want to know. I think I’d be spoiling this book for you if I said anymore about it.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. The writing was good without a doubt. I think what makes this novel hard to like outright is that there really isn’t anyone you can like…but I don’t think this novel meant for that nor do I think that should be a necessary part of a novel. That’s probably why even now I’m not sure it’s the novel I disliked because it’s really the people in the novel I disliked. Essentially though that doesn’t mean the story isn’t good because that’s the other side of this coin, I had to know how the story ended and that is generally the sign of a good plot and good writing. I really like the structure of the book and it was quite genius in the telling of this particular story. Flynn is a great writer and even though her characters were not the best of people she did an excellent job of characterisation. They were full bodied and well written beastly characters.
Ultimately, I think my mixed feelings are down to the fact that I cannot believe the psychotic, dark, and eerily conscious way of these characters together with the ending…as a married woman this book freaked me out a bit! I’ve given this book a 3 star rating because I think it is well written and the structure is great. I did think that maybe the 3 stars was too much based on how I felt when I closed the book but I really believe that has to do with my discomfort with these characters and how they ‘resolve’ their situation. But I balk at the thought of rating a book lower based on my discomfort of evil or malicious people because they exist. Not everything ends happily ever after…or neatly.
I haven’t read anything like this and for that reason I’d recommend this book. It’s provocative and disturbing. Flynn wrote it well.