In “Gone Girl,” Nick and Amy Dunne are about to celebrate their five-year anniversary. Though celebrate is a relative term, since they are going through a desperately dark time in their marriage. After both losing writing jobs in New York, they’ve come back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri where he has opened a bar and they have both begun to harbor secrets and resentments. Thus, when Amy turns up missing, with obvious signs of some kind of violent struggle in their living room and kitchen, everyone suspects Nick. What follows is a long series of violent fantasies, psychopathic plans, frustrations and ultimately, shocking revelations in a thriller that I’m sure will stick with readers just as I am certain it will stick with me.
The question I have been asking myself since I finished “Gone Girl” is: How do I explain this book? I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that left me so discombobulated, pondering all its layers and levels, unsure of how to even rate it. I can hardly even reveal anything that happens in the book since every step glows with “spoiler alert” signs, and I couldn’t ruin this masterpiece of thrills for anyone else.
I can say, as a writer, I was stunned by how the author, Gillian Flynn, could write the book in two first-person point of views, Nick’s POV and Amy’s through two very separate diaries, and make them both so compelling and yet so utterly unlikeable. I couldn’t stop reading, yet I also felt a burning dislike for them in varying parts of the book. And that was the author’s intention! The heroes of this piece are, at times, both villainous and it is an unexpected twist.
This is just one of many bold and startling turns Ms. Flynn takes, to the point where the reader develops a strong belief of what happened to Amy, only to then have those theories destroyed when new evidence appears and a new part of the book begins. Then it is all tied up with an ending so shocking that I drudged across my house to summarize to my husband in his office, waving my hands around in animated horror and utter bliss.
The book dives into the unraveling of a marriage, asking what happens when we pretend to be someone we aren’t? What happens when all those facades fall away and leave only cold reality? Worse, what happens when those realities are far worse than any fiction? It asks these key questions and then answers them with answers that will leave the reader surprised and perhaps a little awed by how far the author is willing to go. I cannot promise a reader will be satisfied by the book, but I do say that they will be highly entertained.
I give the book a strong 4.5 stars from a still reeling reader.