I am probably the last person who read this book in the universe. Everybody has read it. ‘Thriller of the year’ – Observer review says. If there is one thing that makes me want to read a book, it would be curiosity. What is this book all about? Why does it claims to be the thriller of the year?
If you want to read this book, I advise you not to read my reviews. No. Stop here. Click the backspace, go somewhere else because even the mere mentioned of the unreliable narrators, in plural; takes away the pleasure of being led and experience the gasp-inducing twist.
What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?
These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his 5th anniversary, when his beautiful wife Amy Elliot Dunne disappears. All evidence pointing to Nick. Where did he go the morning his wife went missing? He has no alibi. Amy friend’s revealed that she was afraid of him. He swears it isn’t true. But the evidences are pointing against Nick. A police examination of Nick’s computer shows strange searches. He says he didn’t do it.
What exactly happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? The Amazing Amy that her parents wrote about in their children’s novels. Everyone loves Amy, everyone wants to be Amy. Is she abducted? Is she harmed? There is evidence of blood in the house. Where is Amy?
The book contains both Nick and Amy’s voices in alternate chapters. Nick’s voice is the present, Amy’s voice is derived from her diary. Contrary to the experience of reading a thriller, the first part of the book doesn’t flow as quickly as it should. The writing is very descriptive, intense. An emotion is emphasised a thousand times. I was a little impatient so when an elderly lady, who sat next to me in the train, told me that she has read the book, I expressed my annoyance of the slow moving plot. The lady asked me to persevere and everything will make sense from the middle.
So sure enough the middle came. Because I knew that both narrators are unreliable, it takes away the pleasure of gasp-inducing, jaw dropping, earth shattering, “Oh Sh*t” moment where you just hold your breath and disbelieve what you are reading in front of you. Well, it happened to me but to a lesser effect. I think my pupils dilated, my heart beat a little faster and my eyes scanned the pages a little quicker. That’s about all.
There were other characters in the book that added colour to the novel. Nick’s father was a bitter, misogynistic man with dementia. Nick’s twin sister, Margo (nick Go) was a feisty, supportive and cool sister that every brother wish he had; there are Marybeth and Rand Elliots, Amy’s parents, writers of the Amazing Amy who are worried sick for the disappearance of their child. There is good cop Detective Boney who works hard to uncover the truth; and a cast of other quirky, unsavoury characters with questionable sanity of mind which are central to the plot and play their role in revealing the multi-facet and complexity of the case. Tanner Bolt, Nick’s lawyer was quite a character and he offers some lines that made me laugh. “Whatever you say Nick, never, ever mentioned your wife in past tense.” I just laugh how Tanner picked on every single word and made Nick rehearse his speech before the public, that Tanner knows what he is doing.
Although being a thriller, there are a lot of chilling and heart searing words that could potentially shake us, for those who are in a marriage:
I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and not the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters.
And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls. – Nick, page 81
I think of how consistently lovely Maureen is, and I worry that Nick and I were not meant to be matched. That he would be happier with a woman who thrills at husband care and homemaking, and I’m not disparaging these skills: I wish I had them. I wish I cared more that Nick always has his favourite toothpaste, that I know his collar size off the top of my head, that I am an unconditionally loving woman whose greatest happens is making my man happy.
I was that way, for a while, with Nick. But it was unsustainable. I’m not selfless enough. Only child, as Nick points out regularly. – Amy, page 159
Flynn made use of detective police procedure, strategy of crime planning, statements and lies, media attentions and has spun this incredible psychological thriller. At the end of the book there is discussion notes and also a short interview with Flynn. I have to admire Flynn for doodling about her characters on paper, kept a timeline to keep track of who is telling what lie to whom and when, superbly organised and tape them on the wall of the basement where she writes.
This book is complex. There are clues, poems, surprises, intense emotions and lots of lies. I suggest you read this first as a thriller and then re-read it again to admire its planning and the hidden wisdom between the pages. Surprisingly, with a book of such dark undertone, dark humour can be found too. Oh, and I like the ending.
Despite the foul-mouthed, vulgarity and swear words per paragraph, the novel is simply diabolic. Diabolic! diabolic! diabolic!…. and very clever. Enter the mind of a sociopath. The institution of marriage and the idea of relationship is so intensely dissected that you will either be terrified or you will resolve to work harder in your relationship. Read this novel and be very afraid.
When I want to be spooked again, I’ll read another Gillian Flynn.
Paperback. Publisher: Phoenix Book, 2013 Printed Length: 463 pages; Setting: New York and Carthage, USA Source: Reading Battle Library. Finished reading on: 6 June 2013, Thursday.
So many other views (I am sure you can find plenty more!):
Life Word’s smith: Gone Girl is dark, deceptively packaged as a thriller, and masquerading as a marriage tale.
Jackie@Farmlane book blog: Their annoying back-story seemed to go on forever, with very little plot development (JoV: I agree).
Jill@Rhapsody in Books: You ought not to have a phlegmatic response to this book! (JoV: I like that Jill mentioned in an interview, the author said that “…in marriage: we should be the best person we can for our spouse, yet the point of marriage is unconditional love, which allows us to often dissolve into our worst selves.”)
Ti@Book Chatter: So, I have mixed feelings about it. I liked it for its entertainment value and I liked being able to discuss it with others who have already read it. There is a lot to discuss with this one. However, it didn’t surprise me or wow me or even shock me. It was predictable and parts of it were so ridiculous that I sprained my eyeballs rolling them.
Simon@Savidge reads: I don’t think I have read a book that has taken me to such dark places, it’s not a graphically disturbing novel though get ready to have your mind played with and warped, and have so many twists and turns. I also don’t think I have read a book that so cleverly asks the question ‘how well do you really know your partner’ and answers it in such a shocking, brutal yet also worryingly plausible way.
Sam still reading: I found this book a compulsive read that wouldn’t let me go until I’d finished reading it.
Lizzy’s Literary Life: the plot is utterly sensational and the smallest detail is hugely significant.
Shelf Love: I really enjoyed this book, far more than I expected to. It made me want to read her other books, Dark Places and Sharp Objects.
‘Most beautiful, good things are done by women people scorn.’
I think women end up with lion’s share of the kind work we are want done but don’t want to do ourselves. Women make the scrap books and keep the family photos, women organised the philanthropies and luncheons, women tend to head up the holidays – decorate the house, buy the paper plates, make the punch. Women are the ones who remember birthdays and plan the surprise parties. All these lovely things, which take a lot of work and a lot of energy – it can be easy to dismiss, but it makes life special. – Gillian Flynn
About the writer:
Gillian Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, was the winner of the two CWA Dagger awards and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award, and for an Edgar. Her second, Dark Places, was published to great critical acclaim. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, her novels have been published in 28 countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.