Sunday, 14 April 2013

Review: 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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 from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. 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?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Review

Back in April 2011, I read The Trespass by Rose Tremain and remember thinking that for a book full of characters I hated, I'd enjoyed it a surprising amount.  Gone Girl is the new winner of my Favourite Book Featuring Hateful People award.

Nick is apparently a handsome, down on his luck sort of chap who lost his job as a writer because of the evil Internet and is living out some kind of manly fantasy by running a bar with his twin sister, Margo ('Go').  I really disliked him but couldn't quite put my finger on why.  Sure, he's whiny and too quick to blame almost everybody else for his problems, seems to feel that he is for some reason entitled to more than those around him and ridiculously ignorant of how his actions/comments will be perceived.  But then, his wife has just disappeared under seemingly violent circumstances so I felt as though I should be giving him a bit of a break.

So the first part of the book follows Nick as he blunders his way through being investigated by the local police as the main suspect for the murder of Amy, his apparently beautiful, charming and devoted wife, while also letting us get to know Amy through her diary.  By itself, that part is good as far as your average 'Did he? Didn't he?' type mystery goes.  It's the second half that makes Gone Girl stand out.  It's rare that a book completely blind-sides you, I think, but this is unlike much else that I've read before and ridiculously hard to describe to anyone.  I leant my copy to a friend at work (who has incidentally destroyed the poor thing) and after mumbling at her for a bit just had to say, "Just trust me and read it and then you'll know why I'm recommending it"...It's definitely chilling, just not in a turn-on-all-the-lights kind of way.  More just a pervasive sense that things aren't...right and a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I got back to reading.  Except in a good way.  Kind of.

I suppose what it comes down to is that everything is just so bloody clever.  The plot weaves around, about and back on itself so perfectly that by the end, I didn't have any idea what I wanted from the ending.  With most books, you know who and what you're rooting for.  With Gone Girl, I hadn't a clue.  I didn't know who I liked, what I wanted to happen to them, who I wanted embroiled in whatever was going on or who I wanted to stay relatively clear of blame.  I do know now, however, that the ending I got was the one I didn't know I wanted and was pretty perfect.  I can imagine it not being wildly popular but I loved it.

Impossible though it would have been, I kind of wish I'd gone into reading Gone Girl without knowing anything at all.  Which actually has made this review REALLY HARD to write in case when all the hype dies down, someone happens across this review and I do to them what I'm bemoaning myself.  So let's just say that I wish I'd been able to go into this with a simple recommendation.  As it was, I found myself second-guessing everything even more than I knew that I was supposed to be doing and generally trying to prove to myself that watching back-to-back episodes of CSI with Boyfriend had given me some sleuthing skills.  It hasn't...

I guess all I can really say is: Just trust me and read it and then you'll know why I'm recommending it.

Overall:  Disturbing. Full of people you wouldn't ever want to know, going through things you wouldn't ever want to go through but almost impossible to put down.  If you want a thriller that will consume you and keep you wrong-footed until the end, Gone Girl is your book.  Just don't come crying to me if you wind up concerned about the state of humanity or something...

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Date finished:  23 January 2013
buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryFormat:  Paperback
Source:  Bought
Genre:  Crime fiction/thriller
Pictured Edition Published: by Phoenix in November 2012

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