Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has been on everyone’s radar for a while now, and I’ve seen more than a handful reviews of it here on CBR5. In an effort not to be redundant (or give too much away), I’ll be pretty brief in this review. Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, an unhappily married couple waking up on their 5th wedding anniversary, going through the motions as always. Everything seems good (or as good as it can be when both people in a marriage loathe their spouse) until Nick gets a call from a neighbor; the front door to their house is wide open, and their cat is loose in the yard. As it is completely unheard of for Amy to be so scatterbrained, Nick rushes home only to discover his wife has disappeared.
Police arrive soon after and, seeing the overturned ottoman and broken glass, figure some sort of foul play is involved. Naturally, their suspicions eventually turn to the husband. Nick isn’t doing himself any favors by smiling inappropriately for cameras and lying at just about every opportunity. The novel switches back and forth between Nick’s point of view during the ordeal and some of Amy’s diary entries from the past. As readers we are forced to wonder which of our narrators is telling the truth.
Personally, I was also feeling forced to wonder if I cared. I obviously did enough to finish the book, and though I loathed pretty much every character, I did have that “can’t put this down” feeling (once I made it past about 80 pages or so anyway). I always struggle with how to react to stories about loathsome people. Because, let me be clear: Nick and Amy suck balls. Nick is a self-centered whiny baby who can’t stand for anyone to think ill of him. Amy is a controlling type A freak, basically, whose constant ‘tests’ on Nick’s love serve as obvious reasons why their marriage is in shambles. I can’t go into either character too much without giving things away. Amy’s parents are pretty awful and self-centered (is it just me or does popular culture ALWAYS portray shrinks as terrible parents? Is that true? It can’t be ALL bad…). Nick’s twin sister is fairly inoffensive, except that she allows everyone to call her Go (short for Margo) – which totally irritated me. Dumb nicknames often do.
I saw the twist coming a mile away. I can’t guarantee that I didn’t somehow glean it from some review or synopsis somewhere, but I don’t recall having read too much about it going in. This book wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t, at least in my opinion, deserving of all the hullabaloo it seems to have received. But hey, 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight are crazy bestsellers as well so I really should have been more disillusioned already. I am wondering in hindsight if Flynn really intended this as a mystery; it’s definitely more of a character study than a whodunit. The writing isn’t terrible, and it is a page-turner for sure, but I just feel like anyone paying attention wouldn’t have been surprised by anything in this novel. A lot of folks on Goodreads and whatnot have said they liked everything but how it ends. I disagree; I think the ending is pretty on par with the rest of the book. What we discover about the main character(s) by the end of the novel completely fits the character sketch Flynn has painstakingly drawn in the first two thirds. The choices the characters make at the end are really the only ones they CAN make, though they may not be neatly tied up as is often preferable in a mystery. Check this one out mainly so you have something to say when everyone else discusses it, but please, temper your expectations.
PS – I also didn’t manage to avoid casting news for the film they’re making of this book. While I don’t dislike the choices, I do like to picture the people myself without Hollywood influence. Minor details.