Review: Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I finally sat down and read this book (well, I listened to it over the course the week leading up to Christmas). Sharp Objects was so good, Dark Places drove me batty, but was utterly enjoyable. Gone Girl…I don’t know what to think.
DON’T READ ON IF YOU AREN’T PREPARED FOR SPOILERS!!!
Okay, you’ve been warned.
The first third of the book was an absolute bore, but it’s by design. I hated Nick, hated Amy. I hated everybody except the cat, really. They were all just so mundane that it’s comical. I kept asking myself why Reese Witherspoon was producing this movie because nobody was gonna want to watch the equivalent of a grocery trip.
Even after Amy disappears, the book feels completely predictable. Let me add that the book alternates from Nick’s POV and Amy’s diary. Flynn uses this type of storytelling in all her books — I’m not a huge fan of alternating POVs which seems to be popular in today’s fiction, but I digress. Amy’s diary is that of a good little wife who loves her husband so much that she abandons her High Society life in Manhattan to follow her husband to his hometown somewhere in Missouri to care for his dying mother. Amy is dutiful despite living well below her upbringing, even after she and Nick both had lost their journalism jobs in NYC.
Nick is likable enough. He’s a typical guy. Nothing special about him, at least to me, but Amy thinks he’s hung the moon.
After Amy goes missing on their fifth anniversary, Nick is still likable enough. He does what his in-laws advise, appearing on TV shows and making pleas for his wife’s safe return. Forgetting Amy has an anniversary tradition of a scavenger hunt, Nick is handed the first clue by a police officer which leads to another clue…and another. In the past, Nick was never any good at deciphering Amy’s cryptic notes about moments and locations in their relationship that seemed to mean everything to her while Nick might not have paid all that close attention.
Things get interesting with the introduction of Nick’s twin sister, Go. I started to suspect she may have had something to do with Amy’s disappearance because of jealousy or something. All the while Nick is still so friggin’ likable, and not really all that worried about where his wife is. I can’t really say that I suspected him right off, but at this point I was not pleased with the book because it felt so formulaic. Things really get interesting when Andie shows up. Nick’s been boning one of his community college students–now he’s not so likable. Yay!
During all this, the dull drivel of a lonesome, but perfect, housewife keeps showing up in the form of Amy’s diary. That part was kind of confusing now that I look back on the whole book because the actual diary was not found until the third act, so what we’re reading is really Amy as she’s writing her diary entries; however, they don’t line up with the timeline of Nick telling his story. Okay, I’ve just confused myself.
Nick kinda-sorta befriends one of the cops investigating his wife’s disappearance. At least she doesn’t outright suspect and detest him like her partner.
So, at this point, I’m suspecting Nick because he’s taken the last of his wife’s trust fund and opened a bar, has been having an affair with a co-ed, and Amy’s life insurance policy was just bumped up. Amy’s belongings are turning up along the trail of her scavenger hunt, but not as part of the romantic clues. Whodunit? Lance Nicholas Dunne, that’s who.
But where’s the body?
After a Nancy Grace-esque TV show, Nick is painted as the villain, and we hear from Amy again. This time it’s really Amy — and Amy’s a bitch.
I won’t give much details about what happens next, but Nick figures out that he’s being set up once the cops show up with a stack of credit card bills that total hundreds of thousands of dollars. When faced with this damning evidence, he still acts unaffected for the most part, but finally wises up and gets himself a lawyer. A slick, big city lawyer who specializes in domestic cases.
After finding a couple more of Amy’s anniversary clues, Nick pieces together that Amy is setting him up because she’s somehow learned of his affair with Andie. He confesses this to his sister and his lawyer, and they formulate a plan to reveal this to the police and the press.
Oh, and we discover that Amy’s pregnant, and there’s blood that has been cleaned up on the kitchen floor. And that the crime scene is ludicrously staged. Nick knits things together and gets mad, but he keeps a lid on his anger. At this point, I’m hoping Amy stays gone so Nick doesn’t kill her because guess what? I like him for real this time.
Masterfully, Nick appeals to the public as the lost, contrite husband that Amy wants. All the while she’s up in a cabin watching her plotting unfold and laughing her fool head off. She meets some drifters at her little hideaway and kinda sorta makes friends. Then she gets her ass beat. I don’t condone violence, but this one time was well-earned.
With her plan changed, and her money gone, she seeks the assistance of a childhood friend that she’s kept on a short leash his entire life. All throughout Amy’s life, she’s left a trail of carnage of the lives of those who have wronged her. As the inspiration for a popular children’s series Amazing Amy, Amy Elliott Dunne could do no wrong. Whatever she said was bond. So if she said she was being stalked, was raped, and so on, it was the irrevocable truth.
There was one, albeit brief, moment when I felt sympathetic for Amy, and that was when she spoke of how she came to be. I’ll let you read that for yourself. It was soul-stirring, at least I thought it was. That sympathy was short-lived, though. That bitch is crazy!
I can’t even do justice to the insanity of the third act. I’m about go to back and read it again, it’s just that good! It’s like what the Sixth Sense‘s ending felt like the first time I watched it (a feat M. Night Shylaman has sadly failed to repeat, but again I digress).
What I will tell you is that Amy ends up killing someone. Like I said, that bitch is crazy!
As with all Flynn’s books, I’m left panting, drooling, writhing around for more. Her endings piss me off. I want to know what happens next, but as with King, who she claims to be one of her literary heroes (mine too), she leaves room for the reader to fill in the blanks.
Flynn does well with her descriptions, giving all the right details and leaving things out so as not to fill up the moment with useless chatter. Because I listened to the book and did not look at the printed pages, I feel as if there was not a whole lot of dialogue, but there was so much interaction and wit, that the pacing didn’t need the boost of expository conversations.
Although I said I was bored through the first third of the book, it is by design, and brilliantly done–Amy is a crazy bitch.
Do yourself a favor and read plotting and pacing done right. Gone Girl was a gripping look into what lies beneath the shiny outer layer. Do we truly know who we’ve bound ourselves to? Divorce is not an option for Amy and Nick. It’s not good enough for Amy, and Nick wants to live, so he endures.
I can’t say enough good things about Flynn’s novels. I look forward to what else she produces.