Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Amy Elliott Dunne sounds perfect on paper - only child of prized child psychologists and authors of a series devoted exclusively to her (narcissist, party of one!), beautiful, easy-going, rich, a native of Manhattan, and quasi-writer married to the man of her dreams, Nick Dunne, handsome, killer smiler, also a writer.  Amy, in my humble, unscientific opinion, is an egotistical, schizophrenic, sociopath.  And Nick, who truly seems like a normal guy in the beginning, morphs into some kind of crazed bastard himself.  This novel is like a beautifully orchestrated train-wreck.  I couldn't put it down if I wanted to.* 

Amy goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary.  In an era of crime-shows, both fact and fiction, Nick is an immediate suspect, and a personal history and set of clues begin to unravel a terrifyingly bizarre picture of an unstable marriage.  It's hard to review this book without giving anything away.  Unintentional spoilers will appear.  Suffice it to say, Flynn's novel is the essence of psychological thriller.

As a reader, I felt like Flynn was psychoanalyzing me sometimes, toying with me.  Against my will, I liked and believed Nick too - at first.  Diary Amy really got to me - at times she had me near tears, and as the evidence piled up, I threw Nick under the bus.  I felt betrayed when Flynn revealed her ace.  Then I marveled at her wit, applauded her ability to manipulate me so thoroughly, and read on.

Gillian Flynn is a phenomenal writer, and she had me turning the pages at warp speed, but I was only halfway through the novel, and I kept thinking, if I've got this thing figured out already, I am going to be so disappointed.  All that fantastic build-up to lead to 200 pages of, "Oh, I knew that was coming."  But I had an inkling that Flynn wouldn't do that to me.  And she didn't disappoint.  I turned the page, and my earlier train of thought was confirmed - a set-up - but more intricately fleshed out than the brief vision I entertained.  But Flynn wasn't going to give in easy.  I never could have guessed the rest.

Flynn is a fascinating author because she plays along with the reader.  She indulges their fantasies and then whisks the rug out from under them, leaving them disoriented but with a deep desire to see this story through to the end.  Gone Girl is the first book in a while that so thoroughly engaged me.  I have to admit I wasn't so much disappointed by the ending, but it certainly wasn't satisfactory.  But maybe that was Flynn's goal all along - leave the reader wanting more but unsure of what "more" even is.  I've said too much already - you'll have to figure this one out for yourself.

Best matched with an insatiable, if morbid, curiosity.

*I read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl in a day.  This book is 400 pages.  It's been a long time since I've read any book in a day.


  1. I loved this one too. But I'm disappointed to read that Reese Witherspoon is going to play her in the movie. I don't think that's particularly good casting.

    1. Interesting...I guess they're playing up the attractive blonde plot line. When I think of Witherspoon, I think romantic comedy, and this novel is anything but. I'm not sure how well she can do crazy. This novel has so much subtext, I'm not sure that will translate on screen. I may have to skip the film version.