Book Reviews

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.

I had high hopes for Gone Girl. Each person I spoke to who had already read the book had nothing but praise for it. But I was less than a quarter through reading Gone Girl when I felt as though finishing this book would feel more like a chore than enjoyment; the kind of book I’d put down and disregard rather than finishing. I almost looked up the ending because I didn’t feel like wading through the rest of the book to discover the final outcome. Maybe I should have just watched the film?

Meet Nick and Amy Dunne. New York City writers who found themselves victims of the rapid growth of the Internet. The printed word was dying, and their careers along with it. Both unemployed, Nick uprooted the couple and moved to Missouri to live closer to his dying mother. Nick settled back into his hometown while his Manhattanite wife struggled to adjust to small-town life. Their marriage began to falter and on their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy disappeared. What happened to Amy Dunne?

Gillian Flynn took far too long to develop the characters and the plot. The book was half over by the time things actually started to get interesting. The characters were pretentious and not relatable. I really did not care what was going to happen to Amy and Nick. I only preserved because everyone I spoke to assured me “it gets better”. I continued but failed to feel anything towards these characters. I began to truly despise the character of Amy, somehow I could not even muster the slightest bit of sympathy for her. Poor little rich girl, the only child of successful author parents, complete with a large trust fund and a gorgeous Manhattan home. Poor little rich New Yorker, uprooted to Missouri to live closer to her husband’s dying mother. Unemployed but doing nothing to improve her own quality of life. Her personality was a facade; a mask of a Cool Girl. Amy had completely altered her personality to become someone else so that her witty husband with the gorgeous smile would love her. But once she let her true colours show, she resented and hated Nick for not loving the real Amy; a person he was only just being introduced to after he had fallen in love with Cool Girl Amy. She lived, unhappily married to Nick, torturing herself and Nick instead of seeking true happiness. Before I get too carried away and you start jumping to conclusions that I think Nick was a golden boy and the victim in all this; Nick is no better than Amy. He wore his own mask. He kept his feelings bottled up and words left unsaid. But at least his character – despite being a liar and a cheat – was a little bit more genuine, more relatable, more average.

Life is nothing but a game for Amy. She described Nick as the big bad wolf, some stereotypical “bad guy” and how she couldn’t let him win. She turned his fidelity into some kind of twisted game. She realised that framing him for her own meticulously planned murder is extreme; that just walking away and leaving would be a sign of weakness. I can’t even begin to understand how a person could become so motivated to exact such mad revenge. Neither party is innocent in the breakdown of their marriage. Amy talked about Nick’s selfishness, but in truth, they were both awfully selfish characters. The book has no shortage of self-centred acts. The fact that Amy spent months planning to frame Nick for her murder but then had a sudden change of heart and adapted her sinister, self-preservationist plan to frame Desi Collings, the creepy prep school boyfriend who also just happened to be fabulously rich, so she could run home and into Nick’s arms is just incomprehensible, but also a perfect example of how selfish Amy truly is. Poor, naive Desi Collings. Speaking of Desi, I immediately imagined him as the character of Dandy Mott (played by Finn Wittrock) from American Horror Story Freak Show and I could not remove the image from my mind.

I must admit, the book did become quite addictive in the latter half. The story twisted and turned enough to keep the reader hooked whilst feeling endlessly frustrated at the turn of events. I found myself actually wanting to read it, but not because I was enjoying it or because it was particularly well written, but the twists and turns were coming thick and fast so I just needed to know what was going to happen next, no matter how irritating it may be. As contradictory as that sounds, I still felt zero connection to the characters; I didn’t particularly care about them. I just needed to know – would Amy’s psychotic plan actually work? Would Amy return? Would Nick be sent to prison, and ultimately to his death? How on earth would Flynn end this?

The ending of Gone Girl literally had me flipping through the remaining pages to ensure I hadn’t missed some secret ending, some kind of hidden chapter. It was infuriating enough that Amy got away with the murder of an innocent man, but she also resumed her life with Nick like nothing happened. No consequence, no justice. But wait, that’s not all! Amy is pregnant with Nick’s child! It’s not enough for Amy to manipulate Nick into playing the role of the perfect husband in her staged and scripted version of life, but she is bringing a child into the world. Nick and Amy deserve each other, but no child deserves parents like these two. Allowing Amy to become a mother is probably the most infuriating thing of all.

Gone Girl is overhyped. Not worth a second read and not something I would recommend.

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