Time to transfer another old review to this new site! 😀 Then we can start on the new stuff.
I know a lot of people are undecided about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but I certainly am not. This, for me, was one of those un-put-downable novels. It was an ‘I can totally read while crossing busy roads on my walk to work’ novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had it on my book shelf for a year before finally reading it. A YEAR. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.
There are several reasons for me loving this novel, not least because of Flynn’s fantastic turn of phrase and wonderful writing. So, if you’ll bear with me I’ll try and unpick why I enjoyed it so much. (I know I’m late to the party with this one, guys, but I believe it’s entirely topical what with the Gone Girl movie having just been released, and besides which I absolutely cannot stop talking about this one).
Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Phoenix (3 Jan 2013)
Who are you?
What have we done to each other?
These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?
DUN DUN DUUUUUUHN.
So, why is this book so awesome?
Okay, so this is a really broad category, and a bit of a cop-out, but this novel truly would not be as effective without its cast of principle characters. Throughout the novel we see several characters through Nick’s eyes (including his twin sister Margo – Go – and Detective Boney), and throughout the novel we also see diary entries written by Amy, his missing wife.
Nick is a winner. I mean that in the loosest way. In fact, what I love about Nick is he is kind of an asshole. But he really doesn’t apologise, doesn’t try to ‘justify’ his behaviour (although he does provide some explanations), and really he just seems very realistic. Nick is the kind of guy I would probably hate, but something about him made me keep reading. Was it the acknowledgement of his flaws? Or the fact that amongst all these Truths, there were still so many hidden aspects of his character? Probably a bit of both.
Nick for me was the definition of an unreliable narrator. It was delicious. All the while I was asking, “Did you do it, Nick? Did you kill Amy?” Fabulous.
Detective Boney is also an interesting one. She is strong and independent, and although the incompetence of the police is something of a theme in this novel, Boney is not like the others. She does not immediately pigeon-hole Nick, and she works tirelessly to find his wife. I have no doubt that she is a good detective, and I like that a lot.
And let’s face it, you can’t write a review about Gone Girl without talking about Amy. She, I think, is where a lot of the differing opinions about the novel stem from (is the novel anti-feminist? No, I don’t think so). To me she is a complex, intriguing and extremely real (if ‘larger than life’) character. She is captivating and haunting and very, very well-written. At least in my opinion. Quite often in the early chapters of the novel I found myself thinking, “Oh my God, this is exactly how I feel sometimes” (which should probably worry me more than it does), and for that alone I feel like Gillian Flynn deserves a medal. I had this immense feeling that I wasn’t just reading a book about CHARACTERS. I was reading about real people, and Amy was one of them.
2. (Mar)Go Dunne
Yes. She deserves her own section in this review. Go is Nick’s twin, his other half in a literal sense. She is funny, crass, and extremely warm and loving. Go Dunne was literally my favourite character in the whole novel – and honestly I don’t think the story could have worked without her. I could write an essay on the reasons why, but I’ll try to boil it down here: Go is Nick’s perfect foil. She is the no-nonsense, bullshit detecting one; she works as a fictional representation of how we, the reader, are feeling. Go is not afraid to call Nick on his crap, and she certainly isn’t afraid to disagree with his decisions. And yet, through Go we see a warmth in Nick, a lovingness that we don’t see anywhere else. Through Go we understand that Nick is not a bad person, but he isn’t a good one either, which is exactly how it should be. Go is a brilliant creation, a marvellous woman with a strong, independent mind, and quite honestly if given half the chance I would marry her and love her forever.
I could definitely write an entire review on Go alone, so I’ll stop myself there. But I have plenty to say on the subject, so don’t be afraid to ask! Send me an email or comment here.
3. The Twist
No, I’m not going to spoiler you all. For me, at least, it was quite obvious from the outset that this novel was going to be a twisting, turning, OH MY GOD I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THIS IS GOING NEXT (OR DO I?) sort of story. And I was right. Flynn’s plotting is brilliant, and when coupled with real-life characters and a bang-on premise, we have a book that is perfect for late-night ‘I really should be in bed now’ reading. And even when I successfully predicted what was going to happen, I didn’t care. That, for me, is the mark of a great book.
The long and short of it:
Gone Girl is much more than your average mystery. It is a complex, well-plotted marital thriller, that has a lot more going for it than first appears. It is funny in places, and desperately sad in others. And Go is probably the best female character I have read in years.
I wasn’t sure about the ending at first, but the fact that I’m still haunted by it a week after reading just goes to show the importance of it. It is an ending with a lesson. This is a novel I will be talking about for a long time. And it is certainly one that a few friends will be getting for Christmas.
So tell me, what did you think of Gone Girl? Have you read it? Have you seen the movie? Comment below because I’d love to talk about the novel, the movie, or both!