[ This Post Contains Spoilers ]
A friend and I decided we would do a two-person book club since all of our friends are in school and don’t have time to join with us. The first book was my suggestion so I figured, why not read the book everyone is talking about? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has won a number of accolades including Goodread’s Reader’s Choice for 2012 in the mystery/thriller category.
But I was particularly drawn to read it because during a trip to Michigan with some girlfriends, one of the girls spent the entire weekend plowing through this book rather than carrying on with the rest of us. And I thought, if she can’t tear herself away from that book, it must really be good!.
So I set to reading.
The main thing I hear from people who talk about this book is how they read the whole thing in one sitting, how they just couldn’t put it down. That is definitely the case. The only reason I stopped myself from reading was because it was midnight and I was only halfway through the book. I honestly had to tear myself away so that I wasn’t a zombie at work the next morning. But I will say that it took me about a week to pick it back up again. I really had to set the time aside to make sure I wasn’t interrupted because I knew once I started again, I HAD to finish.
And by the time I turned to the last page (on my kindle), I was literally sick to my stomach.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is about a husband and wife who have quite possibly the most toxic relationship possible for two human beings who claim to have been in “love.”
On the day of their 5th wedding anniversary, Nick returns home to find his wife, Amy, missing, and the house a mess. She’s gone. Then begins the police investigation, making Nick the primary suspect, a development not unheard of in cases like this. As the reader slowly learns what has happened through Amy’s diary entries and chapters in Nick’s point of view, it become clear that things just don’t add up.
The best part about the first part of the book is the reader’s uncertainty about Nick, especially when the diary entries and his thoughts contradict each other. The unreliable narrator is used perfectly in this instance, especially because we aren’t completely sure when Nick is lying, when he is telling the truth, and when he just isn’t telling the reader something–something important–like his affair.
And then we get a chapter from Amy’s point of view.
Without giving too much away, because I’m already shared plenty, I can say that this book is just full of “WTF” moments. More often than not, at every turn of the page, I was saying out loud, “WHAT?” and “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” You are certain that each development can’t be topped with something more outrageous, but you are always wrong.
I can’t decide if I was satisfied with the ending of this book, or just so disturbed that I was glad it was finally over. There were times when I really wanted to put this book down and walk away, but I simply had to know how it all ended. And yet, the end, though not all that exciting, seems like it’s the only way things could have gone for these characters.
Some things I really liked about this book:
- Great Pacing: The chapters never felt too long, I learned things exactly when I needed to, and I was pulled through the story with ease.
- Unreliable Narrators: This is one of my favorite narrative techniques, and it works perfectly in this book. Every character is the worst and you don’t want to trust what any of them say, but you don’t have a choice because no one else is telling the story….so as a reader, you really have to draw your own conclusions.
- Realism: The first part of this book reminded me a lot of the highly publicized Scott Peterson murder case, and something about that kind of realism made the beginning of this book especially creepy.
- Evoking feelings: When the characters felt trapped, the reader felt that just as profoundly.
One thing I didn’t like about this book was some of the blatantly stupid decisions the characters made. Like smiling like an idiot when your wife is missing or carrying on with your mistress when YOUR WIFE IS MISSING AND YOU’RE A SUSPECT. I mean, come on. Sure, they were characterized in way that sort of explained this behavior, but half the time, they just ignored basic logic, and it drove me nuts.
I am also unsure about my personal feelings about the book about 3/4 of the way through. At many times, I was tempted to just free myself from this book and read the end, but thanks to having a kindle that wasn’t an option. But there were times where I was so desperate to know what was going to happen next that I didn’t care what was happening on the page I was reading. However, this may be my own fault more than a fault of the book.
With all that said, I am in awe of Gillian Flynn. This book is incredible and I can see why so many people enjoy reading it. While the plot is definitely front and center, there are some elements of craft that are really quite impressive. And to those who complain about not liking this book because they didn’t like the characters, I think that was the point, and it was very, very well done.