Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Gone Girl is the 2012 thriller novel by Gillian Flynn that became a massive phenomenon, with over 20 million copies sold. At the time of the novels publication I admit it completely passed me by as well as the movie adaptation which starred Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike but it was our book club read and I was very excited to read it.
The story begins on Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary and his wife Amy has disappeared. The books two main protagonists are Nick and Amy as we move between their two perspectives – Nick’s in the days immediately after Amy’s disappearance and Amy’s diary leading up to the disappearance starting from 5 years before.
Amy seemingly vanished on the morning of their fifth anniversary, though the living room showed signs of a struggle and Amy’s blood is found on the kitchen floor. She also left a treasure hunt for Nick which was their annual occurrence. As the police and media frenzy escalates Nick’s portrait of a blissful marriage begins to crumble. People from the town come forward to say Amy was scared of him, disturbing internet searches are found on his computer and he keeps getting mysterious phone calls.
In Amy’s diary we learn about how the two initially met and fell in love in New York but as both of them lost their jobs as magazine writers during the 2008 recession, and with Nick’s ailing parents they moved out to Missouri to look after them. Amy’s diary then tells of a marriage that became increasingly cold and threatening until Amy decides to buy a gun.
However what did happen to Amy and is everything as it seems?
I really enjoyed this fascinating psychological thriller from Gillian Flynn and it is the first of her books I have read. By having two unreliable narrators tell the story from their perspective the book does a brilliant job of leading you down the garden path in the first half before completely pulling the rug from under you in the middle of the story.
Both characters are complex and flawed. Nick comes from troubled background’s where his dad physically abused his mom and as a result he is keen to show that he isn’t like his dad and is perfect at all times but you always wonder whether the apple fell that far from the tree and whether he is as perfect as he says he is. He also shows in his thoughts how much his relationship with Amy has deteriorated so you wonder whether he has pushed it too far.
Meanwhile Amy comes across as the perfect bride in many respects that can do no wrong and everything that she is unhappy with Nick about in her diary does seem reasonable. However she does seem to have some resentment over her parents who used her childhood to create a series of successful children’s books called Amazing Amy so in some ways like Nick she has been expected to live up to this perfect imaginary persona.
I don’t want to spoil anything here but the book cleverly uses smoke and mirrors to show one sequence of events when actually something far more sinister is at work and whilst I did kind of expect the twist that did come, because it came quite early in the novel there was still room for Flynn to throw some more curveballs in there before the ending of the novel, though I am unsure if I guessed the twist or read it somewhere possibly in the movie review.
The ending itself takes something which would typically be a happy ending but makes it seem far more toxic and depressing. It also asks the scary question of nature vs nurture and whether the problems in Amy and Nick’s upbringing will just continue in a never ending spiral.
Overall if you did miss this book like me in 2012 I would recommend giving this a try as it was definitely a very enjoyable read.