Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gone Girl Book Review *Gillian Flynn*

One of the biggest books published this year is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s one big humdinger of a mystery that’s so disturbing. The two main characters are deranged, and the reader won’t have one ounce of sympathy for either one of them when all is said and done. By the time I finished reading this was my reaction:

Writing a review for this book is extremely difficult because I can’t give anything away. The joy in reading is unraveling the mystery. I liken the twists and turns here much like the ones in the movies, The Sixth Sense, Fight Club and Primal Fear. You think you know what’s going on but you don’t have any clue. Gillian’s writing and execution is walls to the balls awesome. Gone Girl is major water cooler discussion material, and I urge anyone to pick this one up. Your mind will run rampant with trying to solve the mystery, and even if you think you have, you won’t. The plot is one big labyrinth of questions with no real answers. You’ll be equally excited and dumbfounded by what has occurred.

What I can tell you is that Gone Girl is about the intricacies of marriage and the real truths lurking within the psyche of a husband and wife and their expectations from one another that fails to deliver. Nick and Amy Dunne have moved from Manhattan to the boonies of Mississippi because Nick’s mother is dying of cancer and his father has dementia. This morning, Nick wakes up to his five year wedding anniversary and he’s unhappy. His marriage isn’t what it used to be and he’s not sure how he can keep face and celebrate with Amy. They have breakfast together and he heads into work, to the bar he owns with his sister, Go (one of the strangest nicknames I've read for a person). He then gets a call from a neighbor that his front door is wide open and his house cat is walking around outside. He hurries home and finds the house ransacked and Amy missing. It looks like Amy was taken. Nick calls the cops and they start their investigation which leads to even more questions and the possibility that Nick may have killed Amy. Nick screams his innocence to everyone and his goal is to find out what has happened to Amy before he’s arrested for the crime.

Gone Girl is told from two POV’s. It starts out with Nick’s in present day and then ventures into Amy’s through her diary entries from around six years ago when she first met Nick, her impressions of him, how they fell in love and their perfect marriage which through the years becomes less than ideal. The reader learns who Amy is and who Nick is through her eyes, while we learn who the real Nick is as he tries to figure out what has happened to Amy. As he searched for the truth, the reader is taken along for a ride where things are not what they seem in regards to Amy and to Nick.

The twists in this book are not-stop. As you turn each page, you don’t know what you will read next. More than half way through, Gone Girl has a pretty cut and dry way of storytelling, but then Gillian does something that will make your jaw drop, which in turn becomes even more shock and awe. My reaction throughout the book was this most of the time:

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As for the ending, oh how I wish I could talk about it! The ending is likely to make the reader want to throw the book against the wall. My first reaction when I finished based on the ending was this:

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Let me put it this way without any big spoilers. For those who have read Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, the ending regarding Suzy’s killer is very subtle, a simple and a fitting punishment to the crime in a way. I was expecting that same type of ending in Gone Girl, but after the payoff and the explosiveness of the alleged crime and all the reveals about Nick and Amy, it doesn’t deliver and will make the reader shake their fist in confusion and anger. I had to do a double take and re-read the last chapter because it didn’t make sense to me at first. But as I digested what had happened, in a way it does make sense, but again in a very WTF warped way.

Warped is the perfect word for describing Gone Girl, including chilling and sad. I would say Nick and Amy are caricatures but Gillian excels at making them very dimensional and real. These two are characters you will despise. Nick and Amy are unbelievably pathetic.

I had a very visceral reading experience with this one. My emotions were engaged to the max and it’s one of the best books I read this year. I would have given it a perfect review, but can’t because of the ending. But regardless, Gone Girl gets very high marks for me and one of the must read books this year. Do yourself a favor and read this one! (Crown)

Final Grade: B+

A few other Gone Girl reviews:
Boing Boing
Dear Author
Poetry to Prose