After reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl I have had occasion to be irritated with my husband. Each time I think, yes, I’m mad, but am I mad enough to frame him for my murder? Lucky for both of us the answer keeps coming up a strong no.
Gone Girl is one of those books that stays with you. You think about the characters a lot. About how true to life their actions are. How close they are to an everyday couple and how far they stretch that commonness until suddenly they are no longer recognizable as the couple next door. I had difficulty going to sleep after reading Gone Girl. It was hard to put down, yes, but it also led to unsettling dreams.
The bare bones plot is this: Amy and Nick have had a difficult few years in their marriage. On their five-year anniversary Amy goes missing and husband Nick is the number one suspect. No real surprise there, we’ve all seen enough Law and Order episodes to know that the husband usually did it. The book is written from Nick’s point of view, with every other chapter being an excerpt from Amy’s diary. And trust me, this is not a diary Nick wants the police to find. You learn that Amy has faked her disappearance to punish Nick for their unhappiness. (Don’t worry, that doesn’t spoil much.)
In the beginning I was on the fence about Nick. He seemed nice enough but I didn’t really like him. I was reasonably sure that he did not kill his wife, he seemed too bewildered by her disappearance to have committed a crime, but I felt more pity for him than affection. Not a great set of emotions for a reader to have about a main character, in my opinion.
Amy was a different story all together. I never liked her. She seemed like she was trying too hard to be what Nick wanted in the beginning, trying to convince herself that she wanted those things too. Her views on their courtship and marriage tell a sadder story than Nick’s. Things had been bad long before either one of them noticed. The more I learned about Amy the less I liked her. For Nick there were points where I really cared for him, rooted for him, and saw some humanity in him. For Amy? Well, for every page I read I felt a little more desire to see her dead body wash ashore from the Mississippi River.
Gillian Flynn does amazing things in Gone Girl. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, since she keeps you guessing the entire time. I am not the type of person to try to piece together whodunit but I think that the number of twists would surprise even those readers who like to solve the case.
What I was pleasantly surprised about was how much I liked the book without liking the main characters. The more I learned about Nick the less I liked him, but I still needed to know what happened next. That was unusual for me. In most cases if I don’t connect with a character I give up. Who cares if they find the wife of this jerky guy? Flynn’s writing style and plot development were what I enjoyed. And in the end it worked out pretty well that I didn’t like Amy or Nick. They were self-centered and a little psychotic, I’ll let you judge how psychotic, and they don’t end up very happy in the end.
The alternating narrators do more than help move the plot along. It provides some insight into how a marriage falls apart. Seeing Nick and Amy’s differing opinions on so many events really makes you wonder how they were ever happy, if they were ever happy. Nick truly knows nothing about his wife. At first you think that if only he had paid attention, listened better then they wouldn’t be in this failing marriage. But Amy wasn’t as forthcoming as she pretended to be. And then there’s that whole crazy person thing that you really need to watch out for when you get married. It really sets the whole tone for a relationship.
Every morning I would regale my husband with what I had read the night before. He would give me horrified looks as I told him how Nick had officially been arrested, how the crime scene was suspicious, that Amy was a conniving bitch. The whole plot starts from such a normal place and then events spiral out of control. And then when I finished the book and filled him in on the final details he asked the question I’m sure Gillian Flynn wants all husbands who read Gone Girl to ask: “Honey, you would never do that to me, right?”