Valyruh’s #CBR5 Review #16: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Given all the ecstatic reviews of this dark story, I wasn’t sure what to expect and now that I’ve finished it, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Except for the ending, which I felt lacked the careful orchestration of the rest of this novel, I think the author did a masterful job of building a steady tension that began as a mere tickle under my skin and ended up as a roiling nausea in my gut. For her brilliant plotting, her surprise twists and turns, her fine writing, her fully-drawn characters, I give her an A plus. But when all was said and done, I felt uncomfortably unsatisfied—Gone Girl offered me no one to cheer for, no one to sympathize with, no social disorder to blame, no heady insights into the condition of marriage; just a lot of sociopathy which left me feeling like I needed a long hot bath and a good hard scrub.

Flynn takes us through flashbacks, memories and diary entries back to the giddy golden days of newlyweds Nick and Amy—two of New York’s “beautiful people” with money to burn and the world at their feet. And then, things start to happen, their world begins to crumble around the edges, and the couple end up living in Nick’s home town of North Carthage, Missouri. Fast forward to their fifth anniversary and Amy’s apparently violent disappearance. Like the peeling of the layers on an onion, we are given glimpse after glimpse of the disintegration of their marriage under pressure of financial insecurity, false expectations, family crises, and more. So far, we can relate, right? What we don’t discover until much later is that there is a serious and scary mental disorder at work here, and when we finally realize what is driving these characters, it is terrifying.

For fear of spoiling the plot for the few who haven’t yet read Gone Girl, I will simply say that Flynn’s novel is a clever and mostly well-honed thriller which will get under your skin and stay there. The only question is, do you want it to?

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