Gone Girl, of the so-called domestic noir genre (check wikipedia for more details), is a voyeuristic journey into disaster. While you might find Flynn’s characters unbecoming, there’s enough drama and intrigue to keep you reading.
We begin with Nick Dunne, our Girl’s husband, who has just reported her missing to the police. Of course, being the husband, Nick is suspect number one. As he tries to search for his wife, work with the police, and deal with his wife Amy’s parents, Nick’s every move is scrutinized and criticized by the media. You see events unfold from Nick’s perspective, which gives you insight into his actions and reactions. And quite honestly, sometimes his perspective doesn’t make you like him much. But that’s the problem with being privy to one’s private thoughts, I suppose. Some things are better left unsaid, and for good reason.
And Nick isn’t the only suspect. Amy has a short list of potential stalkers, thanks to being the inspiration behind her parent’s successful series of children’s books, the Amazing Amy series. Although she is the inspiration, our Gone Girl is really the antithesis of Amazing Amy, whose triumphs underscore the real Amy’s failures…at least in Amy’s mind.
Which brings us to Amy’s side of the story. For every Nick chapter, there is an Amy chapter. While Nick’s story begins with the present and moves forward, Amy’s begins a few years before. Her voice (as told through diary entries) gives context to Nick’s chapters…albeit in a slow unraveling way. Besides the problem at hand, Amy’s chapters address the usual course of many relationships in a painful way. She regales the excitement of new love, the comfort of a stable relationship, and the rut of familiarity. We are privy to the small deeds, or rather misdeeds, that sow seeds of resentment, miscommunication, and estrangement in this ill-fated couple.
Gillian Flynn weaves not only a murder mystery, but a sort-of psychological study of relationships. She doesn’t stop there, though. When you think you’ve figured out what the book is about, Flynn changes things up. When Amy’s diary entries catch up to the present day, you have a much clearer picture of the situation, the mystery of Amy’s disappearance is already revealed, and there is still about half of the book left to read.
Gone Girl is definitely interesting, if a bit unrealistic. It has enough themes and mystery in it to keep you reading. While you might not find yourself loving the characters (at least I didn’t), you’ll be interested enough to press on, much as a person can’t turn away from a traffic accident. There are some tragedies we find terrifying, yet comforting, knowing they’re not ours. And Gone Girl just might be one of them.
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