loulamac’s #CBR5 review #18: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I finished this book last week, and have been stalling writing the review because I didn’t know what to say about it. Everyone is so mad about it, but while I can see it’s well written and a good story, it didn’t blow my socks off. I’m probably going to incur the wrath of all the Flynn-ites out there, but the combination of thoroughly self-absorbed, unlikeable characters and the strangely smug and knowing voice of the author leaching into the first person narrative was just too much for me. So it’s a good book, but not deserving of the sometimes hysterical praise that has been heaped upon it.

Nick and Amy Dunne live in Missouri, refugees from recession-hit New York. They’ve relocated to Nick’s home town as his mother is dying of cancer. Not to look after her mind you, they’re both far too up their own arses for that. The book opens on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, and Amy promptly goes missing, presumed kidnapped and/or murdered. The aforementioned first-person narrative shifts between Nick and Amy, as he charts the progress of the investigation into her disappearance, and she (through her diary) reveals the back story of their first meeting, courtship and marriage. As evidence stacks against Nick, and Amy’s words provide very different interpretations of their life together from his own, it becomes clear that neither of them is telling the whole truth.

*CLICHÉ ALERT* Nick is a working class boy, movie-star handsome with a wise-cracking emotionally unstable twin sister who he is incredibly close to. Amy is a wealthy, spoilt only child, beautiful and cold. I don’t think I’m giving much of the game away when I say that the only thing they seem to have in common is that they are both hateful people. The first two-thirds of the book are reasonably gripping, and rattle along. Once the (predictable) twist is revealed, the story and writer seem to run out of steam. The remaining plot developments are lazy and the ending contrived. I read a lot and have pretty high standards, so often find myself wasting time on unutterable rubbish. Gone Girl really isn’t that. I know I should like it, I know it’s not badly written, I know it’s a good ‘thriller’, but it all left a bad taste in my mouth.

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3 thoughts on “loulamac’s #CBR5 review #18: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

  1. I will agree with you about the characters being completely unlikeable, but I’d argue that the author’s voice is not smug so much as her character’s voices are smug. I think the narration in this book was deliberately constructed so that Nick and Amy would read as unlikeable — we’re supposed to feel they are bad people. It’s why, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the book because the characters were so bleak and unredeemable to me, I was still hugely impressed with the way that Flynn had managed to sink us into those characters’ heads with her words. Actually, if she had been a less talented author, I think the book would have been a more pleasant experience for me, because I wouldn’t have been able to sink into the story, and thus wouldn’t have felt like I was mired in shit and awfulness every time I picked it up.

  2. I think my reading experience mirrored yours. I was really engaged for the first two parts, and then BAM! Part III came along, and I started getting stabby. I mean, crazy is as crazy does. I was seriously worried about Flynn’s psychological health by the end, and certain of Amy’s machinations, shall we say, did not do anything to correct that notion (there were two in particular I found absurd and disgusting–involving the wine bottle, and the jar in the freezer…?). Overall, I was let down by how pulled in I was, only to be disappointed by the batshit plot that hastily assembled itself in the end.

  3. I was so disappointed by the ending. I don’t ever read mystery, but I couldn’t put it down for the first half of the book, and the second half I read with growing dread (because I realized the book was definitely not what I thought it would be).

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