Gone Girl (2012)
Gone Girl (2012)

I have been coveting Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for quite some time, having heard the critical acclaim that it has received and being intrigued by the plot.  As much as I love books, I have this weird quirk where I don’t buy hardcover books for myself because I feel it’s too expensive, and what if I don’t like it?  I usually try and wait out the paperback releases, but I’m fortunate enough to have lovely people in my life who buy me books for my birthday, so my wait was recently ended.  Thanks Nicole!

The first thing you read when you open up Gone Girl is this creepy quote:

Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.

(Tony Kushner, THE ILLUSION)

Before getting to the meat of the story, this quote at first seemed cryptic.  Having finished it, however, these few words actually set the tone perfectly for the horror and insanity that unfolds in the next 415 pages.  I usually include my own synopses in my book reviews, but I really don’t want to risk giving away too much.  To touch on anything that happens after Part 1 of Gone Girl would just be criminal, so I think I’ll play it safe and just give you the stock synopsis from Goodreads:

Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favours with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behaviour. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

This novel is a total sucker punch, from start to finish, and I mean that in a pleasantly-enthralled-yet-completely-horrified kind of way.  The first part, “Boy Loses Girl”, the only one it’s really safe to discuss, is told in part from Nick’s strangely numb and oddly impassive present-day point of view of the events on the day of and the days immediately after Amy’s disappearance.  Every other “chapter”, let’s say, is an excerpt from Amy’s personal diary, starting from seven years beforehand when she first meets Nick.  The interweaving of Amy’s old diary entries and Nick’s present-day douchebaggery paint a very bad picture of Nick Dunne.  That’s the nice way of saying that by the end of Part 1, Flynn makes you hate Nick’s guts so much that you’re certain he’s just a lying liar who murdered his sweet and perfect wife in a blind rage.

But as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story, and nothing is as it seems in Gone Girl.  The twists and turns will leave you reeling, and by the last page I realized this book would be a perfect study in abnormal psych.  I think Gone Girl is worth all of the attention and every word of praise by the critics because I think it was actually ingenious.  There’s also a certain poetry to Flynn’s writing that helped keep my interest and propel my reading as much as the actual plot.  For example, I liked Amy’s description of “what it’s like to be an only child” so much that I defaced my perfect hardcover with a dog-eared page:

There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child – you grow up knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die.  There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it.  It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power.  In such ways are despots made. (page 259)

As an only child, I can sympathize.  Which, in light of the rest of the novel, makes me wonder what that says about me.

Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike

I can safely say that I have never read a book like Gone Girl, and I will most definitely be checking out Flynn’s previous novels, Dark Places and Sharp Objects.  You can check out Gillian Flynn’s website here.

The Guardian is claiming that Rosamund Pike has been offered the part of Amy Dunne (to Ben Affleck‘s Nick Dunne) in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, with a potential release date for 2014.  I’m not historically a Ben Affleck fan, but I can’t say I’m a Nick Dunne fan either, so why not?  I’m not sure I care who’s cast for this film adaptation, I just need to see this level of crazy acted out on screen.