So I want to preface that this is usually a book I wouldn’t read. I don’t know, I’m just not really into hard, murder/slasher, detective books; or what I perceive to be those types of books. It’s just not my thing.
But I have a lot of friends who have been reading this book and they tell me it is perfect for everyone, no matter what genre you like. There’s something there that you’re going to really be into and I have to say I agree with them.
Gone Girl is a story about Nick Dunne and his wife Amy. On the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary Nick wakes up to discover that Amy is missing. The whole town is in an uproar about this disappearance of Amy. As time goes on the town, and the reader, starts to wonder if Nick could’ve done the unthinkable and murdered his wife.
The first thing I want to point out is how much I like that the novel takes place in post-recession America. It takes place right after that 2008 financial crisis and you can see the effects of it right throughout the United States, from New York City to Missouri, where the novel takes place.
One of the ways that Gillian shows the aftermath of the financial crisis is through Nick’s town itself. It becomes very derelict and you see a lot of interesting characters emerge from that.
One of the coolest aspects and one of the ones that I wish Gillian would’ve embellished on more was the Blue Book Boys Gang. Basically they’re the men that were laid off from the factories that made those SAT books, you know those giant blue books that were everyone’s nightmares when we were in high school.
I don’t know what it is about me, I personally like novels with unlikeable characters. It’s just something weird about me. This is a book where the characters are so unlikeable; yet you are so compelled to finish to learn more and more about them.
Gone Girl takes place in alternating chapters from the perspective of Nick and Amy. I know that the unreliable narrator is a major cliché, but it’s a big part of this novel and as you read you discover more and more why that is the case.
Nick tells a story from the moment that Amy is missing. Amy, on the other hand, has compiled a diary that describes her life from the moment that she met Nick at a party, up unto right before her disappearance.
I say that the book contains unreliable narration because even though it’s not clear immediately the truth leaks out bit by bit, and you only realise it when you get to the end of the book. I’m not going to spoil anything but Amy, in her diary, talks about how her female friends bossed their husbands around, and how she calls them Dancing Monkeys… like little puppets, and how much distaste she has for that and how she never wants her relationship with Nick to be that way. And that becomes very important later in the book, but you don’t realise that until the end. So I’m just saying keep your eye out for the narration because it is very tricky.
Before Gillian Flynn got in to writing novels she was a reviewer for Entertainment Weekly. This definitely comes out in the book because the media, and her depiction of media in the book, is spot on. The media acts as this kind of weird autonomous force that can go wild and just destroy people. One of my favourite things in this book is when Nick went into many talk shows. I actually wish she did this a little more because seeing him sweat it out under the cameras as these talk show hosts grilled him with their own agenda was just fantastic.
Gillian always shows these encounters with talk show hosts as an aftermath, but I really wish she would’ve shown it in the moment. Seeing Nick sweat it out as all these talk show hosts try to spin him into this murderous husband would have been cool, just to see his mental process through it. So I’d wish she done that. But overall her depiction of media was so good, it was really the most compelling part of the novel for me.
She does something that a lot of authors just can’t seem to do, which is to write two different characters, that actually sound like two different characters. Instead of perceiving an author as tinkering with these two different voices, trying to make these two characters sound different, and have separate narratives going back to back in chapters. You don’t see her doing that, you just feel like you are reading two different people. It was really authentic and I have to give her major props. She nailed it. Fantastic!
Of course we can’t have a conversation about Gone Girl without talking about the movie. Usually I’m not keen on movies that are based on books. I think most bookworms feel the same. However, two things… I love David Fincher and I think his directorial style really suits the tone of the book. And secondly, Gillian Flynn actually wrote the screenplay. Something interesting to note is the fact that the ending is changed. At first I didn’t realise that she was writing the play so I was thinking “Oh no, why are they changing the ending? Why does everyone have to change the ending from that in the book?” But then when I realised she did it I was very curious about why she did it. Did she regret the way she ended the book? Or did she just want to play around with it?
Overall I think Gone Girl is a fantastic novel. I definitely am not a fan of this genre, but this novel stood out as an exception to me. It had me certainly surprised at many twists and turns. I would say by the latter of the novel my mind was blown. I was not expecting that. And I would like to say that I am usually pretty good at picking up plot twists. If you want to be surprised then this is a novel to read. If you’re sensitive to any kind of graphic, painful, scary things you may want to be cautious with reading this book.
But overall I really liked it so I think you should pick it up.
This book was also made into a movie which was released October 3, 2014. You should go check it out, but only after you’ve read the book of course.