By now, everybody already knows the basic plot of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Everybody probably knows the twist. I had already seen the movie so I started this book completely spoiled. However, even though I already know all the outcomes, the writing was compelling enough to keep me interested.
Gone Girl is divided into two parts. The first part is about Nick Dunne’s thoughts and experiences as police search for his missing wife, Amy. Interspersed throughout is Amy’s diary entries which serves as a flashback to how the couple met, married and moved to Missouri. In the second part, we get Amy’s voice, Amy’s thoughts and Amy’s perspectives. Nick’s point of view is still included, but from the moment Amy said “It’s me,” you only want to read about her and no one else. In the second part, we find out how Amy executed her very well-thought out plan, how it went awry and how she got back together with Nick. While reading the first part of the book I would sometimes nod off, but the second part got me hooked, so much so that I couldn’t put it down, even while making dinner.
I love that Gillian Flynn subverted the damsel in distress trope. Amy is a total psychopath – that bit about not understanding how to react to certain emotions as a child confirmed it – but I still rooted for her. Everything she did, to Nick, to Desi, to the people in her past, was completely wrong and yet, for some reason, I still wanted her to succeed in her schemes. She could have gotten away with the perfect crime and the only reason Nick is not rotting away in jail is because she came back. What was interesting to me was, towards the end of the book, we got the seemingly role reversal of what we usually think an abusive relationship would look like. Amy is in complete control of the relationship while Nick is the subservient one, the one who has to walk on eggshells lest he displeases his dominant partner. A lot of people are upset that Amy is not caught, that she is free to continue her psychotic manipulations, but I liked that she still has the upper hand at the end of the book. We don’t see that often enough with literary antagonists, let alone a female one.
Both Nick and Amy would make comments about how they are reacting to situations like how they think a character in a movie or a TV show would react. I don’t have the book with me anymore* so I am unable to quote, but there’s a part where Amy says no one is an original anymore, everyone is playing a part they saw in a movie. Even Nick says as much while he’s being interrogated at the police station. I wonder if Gillian Flynn wrote this because of all the movies and TV shows she reviewed for Entertainment Weekly. If, while watching all these one-dimensional female characters, she’s filling in all the gaps, adding in layers and the result we get is Amy Dunne.
This book was brilliantly written and thoroughly plotted out. Even if you have watched the movie, read this book for a richer understanding of Amazing Amy.
*I picked up this book from the hotel lobby where I was on vacation.