Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlGillian Flynn’s third novel, Gone Girl, is the story of a marriage gone very wrong. Nick and Amy have married for five years. They met in New York, but then both got laid off from their jobs, Nick’s mother was sick, so they moved to Nick’s hometown in Carthage, Missouri. Nick opened a bar with his twin sister, and Amy, stuck in a town she didn’t want to be in, tried not to feel resentful. Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappeared. The story is basic enough, boilerplate almost. But Gone Girl is anything but.

Nick has to with the horror of finding his wife gone, not knowing if she is dead, or if she is alive and suffering, being raped or tortured. He deals with the pressures of facing the media, of being cast as the cold, uncaring husband of a beautiful woman who is missing. Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance.

The book alternates between both Nick’s and Amy’s point of view, his in the present, and her in the past, as her diary entries. Both are in first person and as the story proceeds, you begin to doubt the truthfulness of both narrators (Nick: “I was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting”.) You as the reader never know what these lies are, but you know that there are lies. Nick is being cagey, Nick is being evasive. You want to like him, want to sympathise, but you end up wondering, did he actually do it? And even though Amy’s diary entries seem truthful, there seems to be something amiss, something wrong, slightly askew.

Amy’s parents wrote children’s books about an idealized version of her, Amazing Amy, and Amy continues to creates personas for herself. She is never truly herself, always pretending.

“I can’t help it, it’s what I’ve always done: The way some women change fashion regularly, I change personalities. What persona feels good, what’s coveted, what’s au courant?”

When Amy starts narrating her real story, it is easier to see the cracks developing in their marriage, easier to see why things started going wrong for them.

Gone Girl is exciting, thrilling, and will keep you wanting to find out all the secrets of this mismatched couple. It is no surprise then that it is being turned into a movie, with Ben Affleck as Nick, Rosamund Pike as Amy and also featuring Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry in important roles and the author herself writing the screenplay. Gone Girl has found both positive and sharply negative reviews, and it remains a great piece of work and must-read for every fan of fast-paced mysteries.

Dee B