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. 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?
“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.”
Gone Girl is one of those books that I’m not sure where I lie in the spectrum of loving a book. Do I “LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND” or do I “like the book…yeah it was pretty good.”
This is the first book that I’m not rating a 5 star by Gillian Flynn and it honestly makes me so sad. I still liked the book, I don’t think I loved it but I liked it. The characters were aloof and flawed, just like I like them and the plot in general was intriguing.
This took me years to read. No, I’m not kidding! This took me about 3 years to actually finish the book. I love Gillian Flynn, especially her strongest and in my opinion, her grittiest book, Dark Places. With Gone Girl, the beginning is extremely slow, almost unbearably slow. I finally decided to listen to the first 100 pages or so on audiobook and oh boy did that help tremendously! After listening to the boring stuff, I switched back to a physical copy and I couldn’t put it down!
Nick’s wife, Amy, randomly goes missing on their anniversary. Flynn alternates point of views, one being Nick and the other being Amy’s diary entries prior to her disappearance.Honestly that’s all you should know about the book in terms of plot because it’s a wild ride from there.
Again, the beginning was brutal because it was mostly the background of Nicks and Amy’s marriage. From when they first met, their families, their jobs, their financial troubles, it was difficult to get through most of those part because I simply didn’t care. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty, the investigation! It took about 150 pages to get to that and it was so excruciating, Again, it took me literal YEARS to complete this book,
When we got more into the investigation, when more secrets were revealed, that’s when the novel truly became a page turner. We learn more about the characters, main and side, and everyone’s true intentions. We think we know a character but they do something so shocking that changes everything.
It’s difficult to talk about this book without spoiling because so much happens in the second half but I don’t want to give much away.
The characters is what really makes the novel shine. Nick is the one of the most unlikable characters in the story and a little bit of an unreliable one at that. His reactions to his wife going missing is sketchy (smiling during a press conference about the case) and his behavior is questionable (constantly lying to the police). Of course Nick is going to claim that he had nothing to do with his wife being missing but as the reader, we question his real story. Also, to be frank, Nick is honestly just an asshole. He talks badly about women and is not afraid to call them every sexist name in existence. He says he’s misogynistic to one woman but the way he mentions any woman is very negative and cruel. It was really difficult to fully root for him.
Amy is a character that was also hard to particularly love. Amy is famous from the Amazing Amy books that her family created. She’s ultimately is a privileged white woman who complains that her family is taking away her trust fund since they ran out of money. I mean, I get she might be a little salty because the family profited on her existing through the Amazing Amy books but it was still just annoying. Other secrets are also revealed in the novel and I will just say she is a big time narcissist.
We also have Nick’s sister Margo aka Go who also develops nicely. Then there are the detectives of the case and we wonder if they are the good or bad guys. We have a bunch of other side characters/suspects with questionable integrity. Overall, it was a nice cast of characters who were all developed to have some type of unique role in the story, both little and big.
A Few Negatives (super brief because spoilers)
The inconsistencies in characterization: We are told some characters act a certain way but near the end,they totally change abruptly. We are not really given much of a reason why they do change so that was kind of confusing.
The ending: The ending was…weird. It went by a little too fast. Wish there was a little bit more of an explanation so that I can understand more of the decisions that were made.
Nick’s father: At least in my opinion, he provided nothing to the story both plot and character wise. I think I get why he might have been added but the execution was just poor.He was just underdeveloped and he could have probably just been written out completely and nothing in the story would have changed.
Based on Nick’s character, one of the main twist wasn’t that surprising. Nick mentions the ever so popular “it’s always the husband” cliche/trope but another popular trope also presented itself in the story as well. The biggest twist actually took me by surprise! I feel like it’s one of those things that maybe I should have known based on past reviews and people’s overall attitude towards certain characters but all those hints went completely over my head.
Some Memorable Themes
Marriage Dynamics: What this book does well is dive into the complications of marriage dynamics. Amy is more into adventure while Nick rather stays put. Amy is more of a problem solver while Nick is a problem avoider or rather do stuff easy way. In their younger years, Amy didn’t work that much because of her wealthy family but Nick reveals he had 3-4 jobs at age 14 to help provide for his struggling family. From these contradictions, it’s difficult to see how these two people could connect in a personal level. The book shows the clashing of Nick and Amy because of their differences but Flynn also reveals some type of common ground that makes it work in a unique way (is it healthy? That’s the reader to decide).
Reality vs Fantasy: The characters struggle between the difference of reality and fantasy, especially with Nick and Amy. Both characters paint a different picture on what their marriage was really like (hens again, both unreliable characters) and it was interesting to see their own perceptions and experiences. Even the reader is tricked from time to time on what’s real and what’s deceiving.
I can see why people may think this is Flynn’s best work. It’s different from her other mystery thrillers and the ending was definitely out of the ordinary. I liked it but from the slow beginning and the minor flaws this was not my favorite. I still highly recommend, the writing was still great, the characters were three dimensional and the twists were o point. I’m now a Gillian Flynn completest and I will say she’s one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future!