Monday, September 29, 2014

Gone Girl


On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
(from Goodreads)

** I would like to preface this review by stating that there will be NO spoilers in this commentary. **


 I, like many other avid readers, prefer to read the book prior to watching Hollywood’s on-screen interpretation. When I found out that Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was being made into a blockbuster film, I immediately grabbed the book off the library shelf and began plunking away. I could not have imagined that the journey I was about to undertake would be so infuriatingly long and drawn out.  The novel is broken up into two very distinct and differing sections. The first half I found to be hard to digest, while the second half, albeit more reader friendly, was not as satisfying as I would have liked. For that reason, I am going to assess the novel in two parts. 
PART I-  It is difficult to place my finger on exactly what it was that rubbed me the wrong way about the first section, for the writing was superb. I am leaning towards the notion that the scenarios that were presented were not as true to life as the author was pushing for, leaving the reader full of doubt that the story was really going in any direction. My best description would be that I felt as though I were on a perpetual round-about, desperately wanting to make a right turn to exit, but knowing deep down that once I start a book, I must finish! Previous to my reading the book, a friend had forewarned me that I might feel that way, but suggested that I trudge along because the second section was much more worthwhile.
 The first section of this book is told from a first person point of view through the present eyes of Nick and the past journal entries of Amy. At this point in the story, the reader is unsure of the guilt or innocence of Nick in the disappearance of his wife, although he seems to be a prime suspect.  Amy comes across as a needy and weak wife who desperately seeks the approval of her husband and her parents. Nick, on the other hand, looks to be a pompous and arrogant man-child whose only concern is his own happiness and the hometown bar that he now operates.  I felt as though each narrator was hiding something, and this left me with an mistrustful taste in my mouth. Amy’s depiction of her loving and supportive reverence toward her husband does not mesh well with Nick’s morose view of his wife, causing me to question the integrity of each account. Amy’s sudden disappearance on the eve of their 5th wedding anniversary, with the information given, could not possibly be contributed to anyone but Nick! 
PART II-  In part two of this novel, the truth begins to unveil itself, revealing a lot of ugliness and deception on both sides. Nick is outed as a husband who has made some egregious mistakes, but did they drive him to harm his wife? While Amy, who worked fiercely to uphold her squeaky clean, good girl image, is not necessarily what she seems to be on the surface. Once the reality of the situation is revealed, the ingestion of the story is much more palatable. Flynn’s wit and flair truly shine when she stops trying to deceive the reader. Had she used this approach during the first portion of the piece, I would have found this a much more enjoyable ride.  Without giving away the twist, the finale of the book did raise a lot more questions than answers. I am not one of those readers who must always have storylines tied up with a bright shiny bow, but it would have been nice to walk away with some semblance of justice. In a sense, I felt cheated, making me dislike the author more than the wretchedness of the characters she created. For that reason, I give this book three stars. I hope the upcoming film can redeem my faith in Gillian Flynn.

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