Gone Girl

June 13, 2015

Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn. 2012. 432 pages. Broadway Books.  [Source: Personal copy.]

I wanted to like Gone Girl, really.  And I enjoyed most of it, if I’m honest. But sometimes, my enjoyment of a book can crumble in moments, and that’s exactly what happened to me when I finished reading.

Gone Girl is the story of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy, who goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary.  What follows is the investigation into her disappearance but also a retelling of their courtship and married lives.  Amy’s perspective is presented in a series of diary entries that bounce around, but usually start from that past forward.  Nick’s perspective is presented day by day, starting from Amy’s disappearance.

From the start, Nick is an unlikable character.  One gets the sense that he is smug, dishonest, and barely contains violence toward those around him.  Amy seems sweet, if not timid and accommodating to those around her, but as the story unfolds, her own irrational behavior is highlighted, too.  The result is a story in which the reader has to figure out own their own the good and the bad.

This has all the makings of a good whodunit. The crumbling marriage, hidden affair, financial strains, distracting family events, and two characters who can’t for the life of them be real with one another.  The back and forth of Nick and Amy’s stories allow the reader to piece together what caused Amy’s disappearance, but as soon as you think you have an inkling of what happened, you find out you’re off-base.  This aspect of the book makes it both interesting and intriguing.

I enjoyed about three-quarters of this book.  The plot was interesting and I really liked the back and forth of Nick’s present-day experiences juxtaposed with Amy’s context from the past.  However, the last quarter of the book was infuriating and frankly, unbelievable.  Amy’s reappearance was difficult to stomach, but Nick’s own reaction solidified my disdain for him.  Truth be told, when I read the last sentence, I flipped the page, praying something would come next. The end  fell flat for me, and really turned what could have been an enjoyable read into one that made me question whether it had been worth reading at all.

Gone Girl is a technically sound read that is largely enjoyable. But the end really ruined it for me. While I cannot say I don’t recommend it as a whole, I don’t rush to tell others to read it, either.  The movie inspired the same feelings in me, so this story is just a loss for me all around.

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