Gillian Flynn’s number one best-selling novel, Gone Girl, proclaimed to deliver the goods. Dishonesty. Murder. Kidnapping. Unhappy marriages. Trickery. And did Gone Girl live up to standards? Onwards and upwards, friends, and I shall divulge.
Gone Girl follows the lives of Amy and Nick Dunne, a seemingly beautiful, perfect couple that harbour festering resentment towards one another. Amy is a golden girl; beautiful, rich, smart, witty and famous by association (her parents wrote the incredibly successful Amazing Amy series, loosely based on her), but she also has deep flaws that she refuses anyone else to see; control issues, a sense of righteousness and a need to always, always be right. Nick, on the other hand, wants to be ‘the nice guy’ who pleases everyone around him, swallowing deeper problems that stem from his parents’ abusive relationship and his dad’s hatred of women.
Set in Missouri after the couple lose their jobs, and Amy loses her trust fund, Gone Girl begins on their 5th anniversary when Amy mysteriously disappears, leaving only a literal paper trail of clues for Nick to follow (it’s an anniversary tradition). As the clues build up so does the alarming evidence against Nick…and with Amy still missing, he becomes the prime suspect.
Only thing is, despite their rocky marriage, Nick continues to claim his innocence. And when the evidence seems too conveniently against Nick, and secrets from Amy’s past are re-discovered, we soon learn all is not as it seems.
Of course, that’s only about a third of the novel, but I’m really trying hard not to ruin the plot for you. Because a spoiler for a great thriller like this one would be an absolute bummer.
Gone Girl was addictive, entertaining and very easy to read. Flynn is a competent and intelligent writer, and although I could easily sit down and read pages upon pages at a time, at no point did I feel like she was trying to dumb it down for me. Her characters are incredibly well developed, her descriptions necessary but not overbearing and the storyline superb.
What made the storyline so good? For me, I was kept constantly interested. Did he or didn’t he? What secrets are he and Amy hiding from one other and from the rest of the world? And although the twists weren’t entirely unexpected, and came in the middle of the novel, I was still intrigued by how the characters would get themselves out of the tangled mess of lies that they’d created for themselves. Furthermore, despite revealing the twist so early on in the storyline, I was still a bit shocked by the ending. In all honesty, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Not particularly in a ‘what the hell?’ kind of way, but more of a ‘no. No I don’t know if I like this at all’ kind of way.
I also found I had a strange almost respect for the characters, particularly Amy, despite the fact that they were both awful human beings. Nick is a liar, a cheater, and overall a not-very-nice person. He tries hard to look good and make good impressions, but from what I gathered, that goodness only runs skin deep, and then trickles down to nothing. Yet despite this, I was on his side for the entirety of Gone Girl.
Then there’s Amy. Now don’t get me wrong, she is a crazy psycho bitch. No doubt about it. But she’s also incredibly smart, resourceful, cunning and strong. She can withstand pain to achieve her goals. She can plan ahead, forecasting numerous outcomes and even more solutions. She is comfortable enough in her intelligence and her ingenuity, yet she also does not feel the need to show-off or laud these traits. And while she is an incredibly selfish human being, she also manages to get her way. Every time.
But although she had these positive traits, I wanted her to meet her downfall again and again. I felt hurt by what she was capable of and how she betrayed the reader (in a way) as much as Nick, and then I was angered by how smart she could be about some things and so ignorant about others. Much as I tried, I couldn’t emphasise with her, and I knew that she was a very bad person.
The other aspect of this novel that I found particularly intriguing was the continual presence of the media and the effect that it has on the case. As terrible as the idea of a person being ‘trialled by media’ recent cases have shown us how easily it occurs, and how easily we, as outsiders, can be made to believe what others want us to believe.
I can definitely see why Gone Girl has become an international best seller, and I’m excited for the upcoming film adaptation, particularly since the screenplay is also being written by Gillian Flynn. Unlike many book to film translations, I feel Gone Girl has the potential to enthrall viewers just as much as its novel counterpart. Flynn has created a thrilling adventure with just a hint of darkness (nothing too scary), complex and unpredictable characters and just a touch of social commentary that pauses the reader, and ideally future viewers, to think.
Have you read Gone Girl? What did you think? Are you excited for the film version? Let me know!