I’m a little late on boarding this train, aren’t I? So I’m sure most of you know the story already (mild spoilers abound in this review): I myself have seen the movie adaptation! But it was a conversation about said movie that made me want to actually read Gone Girl in the first place. Basically, the conversation boiled down to most people simply dismissing the character of Amy in the story as “crazy”. And while, no, I don’t agree with her actions and she does seem sociopathic, I thought… that’s so reductive: there’s so much more to it than that! Because while I do think she takes things too far and don’t agree with her actions, both after watching and reading, I felt like I understood why she as a character felt she should do the things she does. And so I thought, maybe the book will dive into this mindset more, because it sure is super intriguing, though completely unlikeable.
Actually, neither protagonist of Nick nor Amy is likeable, but you really get a sense of who they are and how they think in this novel with all it’s twists and turns. For those who haven’t engaged with the story yet, Gone Girl is about the mysterious disappearance of a woman named Amy. Her husband, Nick, is thought to have killed her, while he has a feeling that Amy may have more to do with her own disappearance than meets the eye.
Throughout the novel we get an engaging story, but also a deep look into the minds of two people who once loved each other, but now find themselves hating one another. Something that I love about this novel, in fact, is how Amy as a character examines what love means to her, but more importantly, how she sees gender-relations in the world. Her “Cool Girl” rant? I was squeaking with joy because she just hit the nail on the head in so many ways about how women are expected to perform for men’s desires but the men don’t really need to do the same in return. But then we also see Amy being resentful if not competitive with other women, just in the same way as society wants us to always be pit against one another. And yes, even at one point the idea is brought up that reducing her to a “psycho bitch” is just the easy way out, just like how I felt there was so much more to her character in the film than just being considered “crazy” and calling it a day. I hate Amy as a person, but I get her. Heck, I even understand her husband despite him coming across as exactly the kind of guy I try to avoid. As I said, neither of them are likeable, yet I still wanted to know more and just hear their thoughts in order to understand them.
However, I do have some sticking points with this novel, one of which is just a minor thing where some of the side characters come across almost like cartoonish caricatures. This came across to me most notably in the character of Desi, the ex-boyfriend. He is overly caring and possessive here in a very obvious way, but (of course I have to compare it to the movie), I think it’s all the more sinister when it’s more a more subtle control being employed, to the point where others would think it’s just kindness while really there are some darker motives.
But more than that, what killed my enthusiasm about this novel the most was how drawn out the ending felt. It was almost as if Flynn felt a need to over-explain why the end had to be the way it was: why they wanted to go back to one another and felt the need to stay there. In fact, the entire back third of the novel felt like it was dragging. While the internal aspects are a huge part of the novel, at this point it felt like they weren’t pairing up with any action, and ultimately the whole pacing just sputtered out for me.
In any case, Gone Girl is not a story about people you root for, but ultimately it is an engaging one. Flynn has a knack for writing unlikable, and angry characters, who you still get invested in and want to know the truth behind what’s happening and what they are thinking. And as I said before, there’s more going on here than is on the surface. That’s always the kind of story I can get behind.