Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The wait is almost over! On October 3rd the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel Gone Girl will be out in theaters so, if you haven’t read the book, now is the time to get your hands on a copy. This is a book that readers either love or hate, so read on to find out which camp you are likely to fall into. It should be noted that Gone Girl is a dark book. So I’ll give you the Lemony Snicket warning that if you are looking for a happy story with uncomplicated, loveable characters then this book is not for you.
Gone Girl is a love story of sorts. A he-said/she-said. Husband, Nick Dunne, comes home on his wedding anniversary to find that his wife of five years is missing. Nick is emotionally unavailable and withdrawn, but he’s no idiot. The cops always suspect the husband first, right? Nick searches for his wife and reminisces over their time together. The only lead he has to find his wife and clear his name is the anniversary scavenger hunt his wife left behind. Then there’s the she-said. Amy, the girl who tries to be the “cool girl.” The girl was the inspiration for her parent’s children’s book series Amazing Amy. Her story is told through the pages of her diary, beginning with their first meeting and leading up to the day of her disappearance.
Thematically, Gone Girl tackles much of what many of us in our thirties and forties are experiencing—that frustration that you are past your prime, but that you are still young enough that you need to do something with your life; be somebody. This is not something I could have related to in my twenties and certainly not my teens. Younger readers may find the mid-life crisis theme off-putting or cynical.
Flynn’s characters are so well-crafted and believable that we feel safe entering their minds, then she slams the door shut behind us and shows us the inner workings of some very damaged people.
I would not be surprised to find out that Flynn has studied psychology. She clearly understands what it is that makes people tick. Bad people are never completely bad and more importantly, they don’t view themselves as bad. That is how the antagonist of this story is, but laced with all the hatred swimming around in this person’s head are some astute critiques on our modern media -obsessed culture as well as an honest, unflinching look at marriage and romantic relationships.
“We all watch the same shows, we read the same stuff, we recycle everything.”
Flynn shows through her characters how the media makes us feel the need to portray characters in our real lives. We repeat lines from movies and mold ourselves into personas like ‘cool girl’ or we ask ourselves ‘what’s-my-line-again?’ in distressing situations—not trusting our own instincts. The media subjects us to so many perfect, unrealistic characters in TV shows and movies that we are left feeling that who we are at our factory settings is not good enough.
A complicated and thought-provoking novel where nothing is cut-and-dry or black and white. Gone Girl lives in the gray area and delivers many surprises that lead to a chilling ending that should defy most readers move-fed expectations. Whether you love it or hate it, this is a novel that is sure to stay with you long after the final page.