My rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Publisher: Crown (2012)
Length: 419 pgs
Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover, checked out from my local library
Goodreads Synopsis: 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 Gone Girl I was expecting a thriller. Something that would keep me up at night and make me check around corners warily. Instead, Gone Girl was not a action thriller, but rather slow-burning, psychological thriller that brings up the disturbing questions: Are the ones who are closest to you the ones who can hurt you the most? Do those who love you cut you the deepest? Do we love others because they secretly emphasize our love for ourselves?
At its core, Gone Girl was a tale of two deeply unhappy, unsatisfied people. Told with multiple narrators, the novel chronicles the marriage of very unreliable narrators, each with hidden agendas that simmer beneath the surface. After seeing the book raved about so heavily, I was surprised to find that the first part is slow. The premise of the book kept me going, but it seemed to be a sad, yet predictable tale full of flashbacks of what was probably a husband murdering his wife for insurance money. But I implore you to keep on with the text, because part two throws a curveball to readers that I absolutely did not see coming. It changed the entire pretext of the book, made me think twice about everything that I read, and really proves that Gillian Flynn is a master of laying down carefully crafted clues and scenarios.
Despite this plot twist (and many others that followed it), this book underwhelmed me in some respects. Initially the pacing was what threw me off (I mean the title really makes it seem like it’s going to be a Dangerous Girls-esque courtroom drama). At times keeping track of all of the peripheral characters, especially everyone involved in the investigation, was confusing, And the ending, while pretty unexpected, was also a bit far-fetched for me as a reader to really get on board with and buy into. Reading about the intricate details of Nick and Amy’s tenuous marriage became tedious after a while, and at times the book felt almost as if it were trying too hard/ironically to be profound and “meta.” (Example: the bar that’s named “The Bar”). In some instances it just felt overwritten, too much detail and too much narrative, and just overall trying too hard, when it already had an intriguing plot and great twist.
Despite my disappointment with some aspects of the book, I will fully admit to not being able to put it down once I hit about 100 pages. As I grew addicted to finding out the resolution, I came to be disgusted by the vices and despairs of these deeply troubled characters (they were both antagonists in a sense), yet also came to find them fascinating and found myself justifying actions for each. This is where I found Flynn’s true talent to be, that she could tell a story about such abhorrent individuals, everyday individuals, and yet write them in such a manner that it evokes sympathy or justification out of readers.
Overall: Gone Girl was a slow-burning mystery that read differently from what was promised, but delivered great plot twists and intriguing characteristics in deeply unreliable narrators. It’s worth the read, but I wouldn’t classify it as a “psychological thriller.”