Nick arrives home on his fifth anniversary to find a crime scene and his wife missing.
Who abducted her and possibly killed her?
Right. It’s always the husband. The husband always did it.
Or did he?
That’s the set-up for Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl.
This was the It book of late 2012 and early 2013, and I read enough reviews to pique my interest and invest in the hardcover. As part of my “what matters” resolutions this year, I resolved to read only “good” books — books considered classics, ones that made “best of” lists, bestsellers or at least books positively reviewed by someone I respect. When I managed to read only 34 books in 2013 (despite resolving to read a book a week), I realized how few books I’ll be able to digest in a lifetime, so I want to make them good ones.
Gone Girl has sold at least 3 million copies, so it qualifies. I pulled it off my bookshelf and began reading.
This book is spell binding.
And I don’t even like fiction that much. Or mysteries. Or thrillers.
The characters are unlikable. The narrators are unreliable. There are a lot of expletives.
There are unbelievable plot twists. The ending is less than satisfying (one-star reviewers on Amazon, by far, hate the ending).
I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
I stayed up reading ’til midnight last night, and I accomplished nothing today until I was done.
Despite being unlikable, these characters demanded I stick around to find out how their story turns out.
Here’s where the spoilers begin: This book is best enjoyed if you don’t know what happens. If you have even an inkling that you want to read this book, READ NO FURTHER.
YES, I’M YELLING.
This book is an experience to savor, and I don’t want to taint it. So stop reading now if you don’t want me to ruin it for you.
I liked Gone Girl because I could relate. Nick, the husband, is an out-of-work writer. He and Amy, his amazing wife, live in the Midwest. Nick cheats on his wife with one of his students. Amy observes that in the suburbs, Republicans go to Sam’s Club and Democrats go to Costco. “And everyone buys in bulk because — unlike Manhattanites — they all have space to store twenty-four jars of sweet pickles.”
I adored Gillian Flynn’s writing and wit. One of Flynn’s best lines is a commentary on readers and a lot of book reviewers:
“It’s good.” She chirps the last bit as if that were all to say about a book: It’s good or it’s bad. I liked it or I didn’t. No discussions of the writing, the themes, the nuances, the structure. Just good or bad. Like a hot dog.
Despite the unreliable narrators and preposterous twists (really? Amy anticipated Plan B? and C? and D?), the plotting is brilliant. I wish I would have thought of it.
I have to confess: Halfway through the book, I was rooting for Amy. Hating Nick for demanding that Amy be Cool Amy, for turning away from her when she revealed she didn’t like everything he liked and for finding solace in the arms of another (younger) woman. Hoping Amy’s revenge scheme would work and that Nick would pay for being a callow narcissist.
But Amy is a sociopath and she goes too far. The book, in its soul (if it has a soul, and I’m not sure it does) is about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. It’s a mystery. I read it like I could figure it out, and you can’t figure it out. There’s no figuring out some things. Some things are mysteries. As unsatisfying as the ending is, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for the characters.
Gone Girl is good. I liked it. Like a hot dog.