Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

September 12, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

Warning MAJOR SPOILERS below!

  • The action kept moving along. There were four major “twists” in the book (by my count), and they were relatively evenly spaced throughout. The first one (Nick revealing he was having an affair), at 34% into the book according to my Kindle, took the longest to appear. After that, the subsequent twists (Amy is alive; Amy goes to Desi for help/kills him/returns home; and Amy and Nick are stuck together because of the baby) developed more quickly and kept me reading.
  • I could not figure out what the hell Amy’s end game was — and that was a good thing. My need to discover her motive and goals, though they ultimately proved to be a bit weak, was another factor that kept me turning the pages.
  • The media circus that surrounded the case seemed pretty accurate. I can totally imagine those scenes at the rallies, vigils, and outside Nick’s house because that’s definitely the kind of world we live in now.
  • Although I found Amy’s motivation to be lacking, I couldn’t help but marvel at her discipline in thinking through every aspect of the staged crime and taking her time (more than a year) to get everything just right.
  • I liked that Desi turned out to be harder to control than Amy anticipated. She needed him to bail her out, but she ended up being his captive (for all intents and purposes) instead. That was unexpected.
  • Twice in the book Flynn (through Amy) notes that the construction “Nick and me” was “the correct grammar” for a particular sentence. It’s a pet peeve of mine that people seem to think “So-and-so and I” is right 100 percent of the time, so this made me smile.

Disliked:

  • Some parts of this book (particularly in the beginning) are so overwritten as to be pretentious. Fortunately, Flynn toned things down considerably about a quarter or a third of the way through, making the story a lot more readable.
  • I did not like Go at all. Nothing about her, from her stupid name (who shortens Margot to Go?) to her attitude that alternated between being blase about everything and wringing her hands over every little detail, appealed to me.
  • I have a feeling that we were supposed to be rooting for Nick at the end, after it was revealed how treacherous Amy was (Nick actually says as much), but I wasn’t. Flynn didn’t do anything at all to make Nick likable, so even though I started out rooting for Amy (thinking she was dead and Nick killed her), I didn’t turn completely against her after her inner sociopath emerged. Nick was so annoying by that time that I began to feel Amy had a point in framing him!
  • Speaking of, Amy’s motivation for framing Nick for her disappearance was so…trivial. He wasn’t the husband she expected him to be???? Really??? Okay, so get a divorce, don’t rain law enforcement down on him for a freakin’ capital crime.
  • I thought it was utterly ridiculous that Amy stayed at the Ozarks cabin long enough to get robbed by her two neighbors. She planned everything out so perfectly, but then gets lazy and sticks around one place for weeks on end like that? No way. Obviously the rest of the story wouldn’t have worked if her getaway had been clean, but come on. The author should have come up with a more believable reason than that to force Amy to seek Desi’s help.
  • Nick ended up staying with Amy in the end just because she artificially inseminated herself with his sperm and got pregnant?? Here’s a guy who couldn’t even sleep at night for fear that she would stab him or something, yet he’s going to stick around for a baby? Yes, he wanted kids, but he was essentially just a sperm donor in that situation. It would have been easy to walk away. I guess Amy telling him that no other woman would want anything to do with him and that he still loves/needs her actually got to him. What an idiot. And this was the character I was supposed to root for???

Rating:

When I sat down to write this review, I was thinking about giving Gone Girl 4 stars. But then all those “dislikes” started bubbling to the surface and I realized how flawed this book really is, and decided to change my rating. I give this one 3 stars out of 5 based on the content, but acknowledge that it’s probably entertaining enough for 4 stars.

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