So I finally got on the bandwagon and read Gone Girl after being the 150th person in line for the library ebook. I wanted to read it before the movie makes its way to my neck of the woods.
The summary, if you haven’t heard it by now: Nick and Amy Dunne moved from NYC to Carthage, Missouri, after both lose their jobs and Nick’s parents fall into poor health. We learn about their courtship, marriage, and move to MO through Nick’s first person narration and Amy’s detailed diary. Gradually, those two accounts veer away from each other, but you’re never sure why: are they both unreliable narrators? Is this just typical communication breakdown? Or is someone lying…to us or to themselves? And if so, who? On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Nick seems guilty, and he’s definitely a jerk who is hiding something, but is he a killer? And if he didn’t do it, then where the hell is his wife?
The much-talked about twist that comes halfway through honestly was not so big a twist. I mean, you’re only halfway through the book, and you have two characters telling wildly different versions of the same story. Obviously, something’s gotta give. That said, the halfway point twist is great, and it’s also when things get crazy.
The book was extremely well-written and satisfying; the kind of storytelling you can just get lost in. The portrait of marital unease and miscommunication is dark and disturbingly relateable if you’ve ever been in a less-than-healthy relationship. The action is non-stop, and I felt like every 25 pages I was convinced that someone else had done it, or I switched “sides” from Amy to Nick and back “Well, Amy sounds super high maintenance! … but wait, Nick really did that? Well obviously Amy was justified in her reaction … but wait, Amy said that? Ugh! … but look, now she’s trying to make up to him!” Etc. Flynn did a great job introducing red herrings and false leads, too. I also loved how she portrayed the media and media frenzy throughout the book.
But a couple things prevent me from giving all five stars to this book, despite enjoying it immensely, and this is where I veer into SPOILER territory.
The ending. Good lord, the ending. It felt like Flynn had written herself into a (very dark) corner where she couldn’t give a happy ending (bad guy gets what’s coming to him/her) but didn’t want to give a predictably unhappy ending, either. And I see why pregnancy is the perfect way to make these two awful people stay together and “complete” each other to make their own insane nuclear family (seriously can you IMAGINE parenting with Amy?) But it felt very sketched-in to me: she self-impregnated with frozen semen that quickly and easily? I mean, I’m sure it can happen, but how convenient for Amy–and this plot device–that it worked after one try.
Amy’s written as this (wealthy, beautiful) brilliant woman who plans, plans, plans, but then doesn’t plan enough to not get robbed of all her cash or not become a prisoner in ex-bf Desi’s home. Surely one of those major instances of poor planning should have led to her downfall. But no, she is just so brilliant that even her last-minute cover-up plans work perfectly and she gets away scot-free. Hmph.
I had a hard time believing that she planned this all so effectively and made so few missteps that Nick and Cop Lady couldn’t find one tiny mistake. Like, really: cops, federal agents, detectives, everyone, everyone, is fooled by her pretty smile and far-fetched story of being kidnapped…despite the elaborate and damning treasure hunt, her total Grand Plan overhaul in the Ozarks, the many ways that plan could/should have gone wrong, the fact that Desi’s mom and other friends could probably provide an equally compelling (and verifiable) alibi for him that contradicted Amy’s story, and the fact that she has a history of deception and manipulation that, by the end of the book, is fairly common knowledge.
In the summary on Amazon, Flynn says, “I wanted to explore the geography of intimacy–and the devastation it can lead to. Marriage gone toxic.” Other reviews say things like, “masterful dissection of marital breakdown” and the like, which like…sure, yes, this is definitely a toxic relationship, and the first half of the book especially does a great job of using two unreliable narrators to paint a picture of how distrust can seep into a marriage. But also: Amy is a vindictive, psychopathic murderer. The main point didn’t seem like it was so much about intimacy or a “marriage gone bad” as about the fact that when you have a misogynistic jerk married to a pyschopathic murderer, things go off the rails. Imagine that!
Also, it bugged me that Nick’s sister’s nickname is Go. Sentences like, “Go, don’t!” are just unnecessarily confusing.
So I definitely enjoyed the book and will absolutely see the movie, but can’t quite give it 5 stars because Amy really should not have gotten that ending. 3.5 from me.