This novel received huge critical acclaim over the past year so, being a fan of thrillers, I was keen to give it a read. I hadn’t heard of the author before so, when I started reading the book, I thought it was a debut novel. It became clear very quickly that it wasn’t. Gillian Flynn is a talented, accomplished author and with Gone Girl she has weaved a chilling web of lies and deceit.
Be warned, this review does contain some spoilers, as it is basically impossible to review the book without giving some parts away. I’ll do my best to not spoil the ending though.
This book is a story of three parts: “Boy Loses Girl”, “Boy Meets Girl” and “Boy Gets Girl Back (Or Vice Versa)”. Each part has a distinctly different feel and reveals a little more pieces of the puzzle that is Amy and Nick’s marriage.
I think everyone knows the premise but, just in case, this is the story of married couple Nick and Amy Dunne. It opens on “The Day Of” – the day Amy suddenly goes missing. The first part of the book follows Nick, who tells his account of the day Amy disappears and the flurry of media publicity that follows in the next few weeks. Nick laments that he has no idea what had happened to Amy, and yet there are a few tell tale signs and flashbacks that suggest everything may not be quite as it seems. This is all interspersed with chapters written from Amy’s point of view, accounting their relationship, from the first encounter, leading up until the day before she disappeared.
Like some other reviewers, I did feel that this part dragged on a bit. I was getting a little concerned that this book which had received so much critical acclaim was actually a fairly generic missing wife sort of tale. All of the evidence was pointing towards Nick as the culprit. But I read on, and things soon changed.
The second part really picks up the pace, as almost everything we thought we learnt in the first part is turned on its head. Suddenly, the book gripped me in a way which a book hasn’t in a while. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, trying to come up with my own theories on how it would all end. My various theories changed regularly, and none of them were right, by the way.
The final part of the book is where everything comes together. The gripping drama hurtles towards its conclusion which, for me, was shocking, disappointing and inevitable all at the same time. But I won’t spoil it for you here.
If you haven’t read this book, don’t be put off by claims of a disappointing ending. It is well worth the journey to get there. What this book really is is an exploration of a toxic marriage. Flynn examines some pretty heavy emotions and the unreliable narrators serve to blur not only the lines between truth and lies but between right and wrong. The story charts the rises and falls of a marriage and exposes the darkest points of a relationship. It also does a good job exploring the psyche of a psychotic, vengeful and self-obsessed character.
However, I did have some issues with it. For one, there were some red herrings thrown in in the first part of the story which were never really cleared up. I also found that the extensive, methodical nature with which one character’s crimes were planned – down to every minute detail – a little unbelievable. Particularly as they then proceed to completely change their mind.
All in all this book is clever, and offers something a little bit different to the conventional thrillers out there. It deserves its acclaim. Don’t expect it to change your life, but do expect to get sucked into a world which will keep you guessing and where nothing is quite as it seems.