Written by: Gillian Flynn
Published by: Crown
Gone Girl is a story of a missing woman, a suspected murder and her wrongly accused husband. Amy Elliot is the girl in question, though nearing her forties, she hardly qualifies as a girl. Amy is married to Nick Dunne and the two live in New York where they enjoy the most glamorous of all fictional careers–they’re writers. The drawn out description we’re given regarding Amy and Nick’s life is painfully tedious. Yes we realize they’re beautiful, intelligent and successful in life. And yes we also know to expect a fall-out fairly soon. The book begins in the mid-noughties so the references to current events are still fresh in most of our minds. The recession is looming over everyone; the Internet is destroying print journalism, etc. Even Amy’s wealthy parents, who made their millions from kids books about their daughter “Amazing Amy,” lose their vast fortune.
The tag line for the book, “There are two sides to every story,” refers to the fact that we see their world from both Amy’s and Nick’s eyes. Amy gives us their relationship’s background through her diary whereas Nick kicks off in the present: the day Amy goes missing. This adds further (intended) confusion as sometimes the two stories completely contradict each other presenting a “Who should we believe?” sort of quandary.
[ad#longpost]The Dunnes have now left their fabulous New York lives behind and moved to Nick’s hometown in Missouri after they both lost their jobs and Amy’s inheritance. Nick’s mother is ill and he returns to take care of her, dragging a reluctant wife in tow. At this point I couldn’t find any reason to empathize with either character. Sure they experience horrible, real-life situations but they are both so self-entitled and obnoxious, you’d almost wish it on them. Amy’s disappearance occurs on the couple’s five year wedding anniversary and throws Nick’s world upside down. He alerts the police and immediately becomes suspect number one because he has no alibi to protect him. What follows is Nick’s story of being hounded by the police for weeks on end and while pleading his innocence, he behaves apathetically causing his twin sister, in-laws and the general public to worry. Amy’s diary is still in the past, discussing her and Nick’s relationship in detail, revealing tidbits along the way to create an image of who Nick really is.
The most interesting part was the depiction of the media embarking on a witch hunt against Nick. Before the case is even put before a judge, the public made its decision: the husband did it. There are two chat show hosts who lead the chase, manipulating public opinion either for or against Nick. His hometown’s population volunteered to help Nick search for Amy but as time goes on, they turn on him too.
The police are portrayed as lazy and unwilling to properly investigate the case. In fact, most of their evidence is discovered thanks to extensive tip-offs. It’s easy to sympathize with them though, because Nick is a difficult one, concealing major facts throughout. Whereas Amy is the ideal missing person because she is beautiful and vaguely famous thanks to her fictional persona as “Amazing Amy,” the public laps it up and her face is recognized countrywide.
Once the full truth of what’s happening is revealed, the story takes on a new sinister twist, which is disturbing at the best of times. It doesn’t move quickly enough to be “thrilling,” instead we spend a lot of time hearing one character’s thoughts and feelings on the matter. The book becomes a page turner towards the end because you have to know what the fate of the characters. This is a mark of a good thriller but…shouldn’t it feel that way throughout? Plus the characters’ actions are so ludicrous that you’d question Flynn’s reasoning. The ending left me feeling a little cold and dismayed at the protagonists. I think the author wanted to make it clear that the ending was well deserved. At least I hope so.
This book is ideal for someone looking for a trashy, tabloid thriller. It has all the key elements: beautiful people, sex, money, lies, manipulation, murder, and an underlying air of unease, which will stay with you even after you’ve put it down.