Review: ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

gone-girl-book-cover-medI just want to say before I start this review that I knew one of the spoilers. Some person wrote in to Real Simple magazine, commenting on how the plot twist in “Gone Girl” was one of the best. I hated myself for reading that magazine page in the first place. Then I got over it, vowing that it wouldn’t ruin my experience reading it.

*deep breath* Now that that’s out of the way.

I’ve known that I’ve had to read “Gone Girl” for a long time. Even before the movie came out. A part of me was thinking everyone’s gushing opinions about the book were going to overshadow the book itself. Shame on me.

This was one of the best thriller novels that I have ever read. And I like to think I’ve read a fair amount so far in my 22 years of bitterness.

Gillian Flynn’s third novel is about Nick and Amy Dunne’s no-so-perfect marriage. On their fifth anniversary, Nick returns to their house in North Carthage, Missouri, to find the house empty. The living room is overturned and Amy is missing. Within hours, the police begin their investigation into Amy’s disappearance. The media, of course, jumps into the fray. With pressure from the police and the media — as well as from Amy’s doting parents — Nick’s endless amount of lies, deceits and inappropriate behavior creep up. The question is on everyone’s mind: Did Nick kill his wife?

The most thrilling element (see what I did there?) of the whole book was the unreliability of both Nick and Amy as narrators. I constantly flip-flopped between believing Nick’s story and Amy’s story. Should I believe in Nick’s innocence? Or should I rely on Amy’s diary entries? Nick’s thoughts contradicted each other. He even says at one point that he compartmentalizes “to a disturbing degree.” Yeah, gonna have to agree with you on that one, Nick.

There was also moment where Nick said, “That was my fifth lie to the police.” Alarms went off in my head. Fifth lie?!?!? What were the first four lies? Then a chapter or so later, the total was up to 11. At one point I was going to keep track, but I gave up. I couldn’t tell what was the truth and what was a lie.

Nick even read my thoughts at one point, saying “I just don’t know what to believe right now.” I know, buddy. No one else does either.

Having both characters be such unreliable narrators is really what drove the book. Not only is the reader trying to figure out the timeline along with the police, but they’re also trying to figure out what’s really going on with Nick, and then Amy.

What I found interesting was how Nick and Amy saw each other, especially in the beginning. It’s as if they weren’t really seeing each other; only who they wanted to see. Everything seemed so … fake between them. Did they even love each other? And once the facade between them started to come down was when the distance and the anger came.

She need to be Amazing Amy, all the time …. she’d clearly been practicing the speech.” —Nick Dunne, pages 45 & 47 (Kindle version)

In her diary, Amy wrote about their courtship, their early days of their marriage and the downfall as they moved from New York City to North Carthage, Missouri. She wrote about Nick’s change of character, while Nick (in present day) talked about her change of character. Again, I didn’t know whose side to take. So I kept reading.

I read “Gone Girl” in five hours. I should probably say inhaled instead of read. It’s more accurate. But in five hours, I’d read all there was to read about Nick and Amy’s twisted, confusing, way-more-difficult-than-it-needs-to-be lives. And I couldn’t get enough.

Two days after finishing the book, two quotes really stick out to me:

“I never knew I was capable of being ridiculous over a man.” —Amy’s diary entry, July 5, 2008, about her marriage to Nick; page 42 (Kindle version)

Love makes you want to be a better man — right, right. But maybe love, real love also gives you permission to just be the man you are.” —Nick Dunne, page 150 (Kindle version)

At the end of the book, you realize just how true these statements are for the both of them.

Gillian Flynn’s writing really stands out. She weaves quite a web of characters, especially with Nick and Amy themselves. Their voices are so distinct that the chapters didn’t necessarily need to be labeled. Then there was the clear disconnect between Amy’s diary voice and Amy’s real voice. So hauntingly different and jaw-dropping. Of the two narrators, Amy’s was definitely my favorite to read. She didn’t cut corners, while Nick … Nick liked to hide things. He craved approval of the reader.

If you haven’t read “Gone Girl” yet, please go to your nearest bookstore or library now. It’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read. While you do that, I’m going to casually stroll around Chicago and hope I bump into Gillian Flynn.

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