Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (SPOILER FREE!)

October 2, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publication date: May 4, 2012
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller 
Source: Publisher (Thanks Hachette India!)
Amazon | Goodreads
Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

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?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
Given how into books I am, it would have been astounding had I not heard of Gone Girl in the many months since it's release. Well, since, as I am wont to say, I do not live under a rock, I have heard of Gone Girl. Incessantly. Ever since I made up with Goodreads again. So yeah, that's a long time to be hearing praises sung about a book.

Why hadn't I picked it up despite all the hype? Well, I dont like scary stuff. And realistic scary stuff can be a lot more scary that made-up scary stuff. And they both give me nightmares and increase my everyday level of paranoia from slightly above average (I'm guessing) to smack right in the middle of crazy territory (that's true though). So yeah, I avoid stuff like this usually, though I do love mysteries and detective stories.

Also, yes, I can fully comprehend how self contradictory the above paragraph is.

So anyways, after it seemed like literally everyone was recommending the book to me, I still stood my decision to not read it. And then Pooja started raving, that was what did me in. Pooja recommends only books that she really, really liked, and ones that she knows I'll love. And so I read the book. I went in knowing that the guy most probably did not do it (a dimwit can get that from the blurb), and that there's a MAJOR plot twist somewhere in the middle (that spoiled a bit of the surprise, although the degree of jaw dropping was plenty enough).

Nick and Amy meet each other at a party in New York when both of them are pretty happy with where they are in their lives. There's an instant spark and connection that ignites between the two, and after almost a year lost in little lost and found incident, they get married (they just couldn't take nature's hint now, could they?). Marriage is great! Most of their conversation is peppered with inside jokes that would make a stranger blink, or even maybe take them for lunatics, but that's the thing about the intimacy of marriage - such idiosyncrasies are what make it worth it. Nick is not the kind of husband who expects his wife to clean up after him, and Amy is not one to keep track of Nick's outings and expect him to turn up to meet her friends. She's the Cool Girl.

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer... and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding.

And then the recession hits. Nick loses his job. Amy loses her job. They try to tough it out in New York with what money they have (Amy also has a little fortune from the Amazing Amy series that she can dip into), but then both of Nick's parents fall sick. Nick & Amy move to Nowheresville, Missouri to look after Nick's mother, and his father is admitted into a nursing home.

And then the glow starts to fade. Different versions of Nick & Amy emerge under the stress of financial trouble and the change of location. Each of them gradually come to realise that the people they married no longer existed. But they stay together despite it, dancing and skirting around each other, sparring with veiled jabs and thrusts, outwardly loving and amiable.

There's a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.

And then Amy is just simply... Gone.

I dont think there's ever been a book that I've both loved and also loathed so much. The plot of Gone Girl is extremely convoluted, and devious to the nth level. We've all heard of the term 'the perfect crime' and witnessed unsuccessful attempts at it; both fictional and real. But in Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn manages to pull off just that - the perfect crime, with no one the wiser. Except the reader (while simultaneously making the reader wish they were among the ignorant. Ignorance, in this case, is bliss.

Gone Girl is written in three parts, with POVs alternating between Nick's and Amy's. The slightly epistolary structure that the novel follows was a very smart move on Flynn's part. In a book in which so much is just left up in the air, a diary entry can provide some uncensored insight into the characters lives. The much talked about twist comes in the beginning of part two, but even though you're pretty much expecting it by then, it still packs a punch.

Gillian Flynn obviously does not care about writing 'nice' characters, because both Nick and Amy are extremely unlikeable. Complex, as everything else that Flynn writes, but unlikeable. Believe me when I say that their minds are not nice places to be in. After a time, you find yourself having a morbid fascination towards characters that are seemingly normal, albeit flawed, but all it is is a thin veneer of normalcy that is carefully maintained, covering a miasma of abject vileness. Amy most definitely has psychological issues and Freud would have a field trip if he could have a look into that head of hers.

But atleast I can write up Amy's psycho-tendencies as being pathological. Nick, on the other hand, is simply despicable. And he knows it, and admits it quite freely. A 'real' journalist, who wrote for a 'real' magazine, Nick lost his job when the 'interwebs' took over. Poor, poor Nick. How sad for him. And now no one wants to employ a 'real journalist' and its all about the amateurs and bloggers and what not (okay, maybe I got mad about the dig at bloggers). And really, they were going to peg him for Amy's murder disappearance anyways, so it's not like it makes much of a difference if he lies to the police, does it? And oh yeah, he spends the lazy moments after just waking up indulging in the fascinating hobby of contemplating the shape of Amy's skull. He is a humongous douche bag, with suppressed moments of male chauvinism, who nevertheless knows how to play the 'audience', as we find out at the end of the book.

Gone Girl has a great plot, and characters, and realism, and wonderful writing, and will stay with you long after you've closed it, but it doesn't make for very pleasant reading. It is a book that is so frightfully real and believable, that it makes you question your faith in humanity. This book can quite safely call itself a 'one of its kind', because not only does it manifest the extreme depravity that a soul can possess, but it has Not. One. Single. Character. that you will genuinely like. The closest I came to liking a character is with the lawyer and his wife, who appear in, like 4-5 pages.

Bottomline: Gillian Flynn has written a brilliant mystery with countless twists and turns, and has proven herself to have remarkable talent at meticulous plotting and creating twisted personalities, that, quite frankly, makes me scared of her!

Caffeinated Book Reviewer: ...Three word review: twisted, captivating, a nail-biting page turner...

Novel Sounds: ...Deliciously dark with a uniquely compelling relationship and a twist that will make you devour the pages, there’s a reason why Gone Girl is such a hit...

Bewitched Bookworms: matter how well you think you know someone, you’ve barely skimmed the surface...

Holding Quote:
"Love makes you want to be a better man. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are."

"Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes."

"He did apologize profusely. (Does anyone do anything profusely except apologize? Sweat, I guess.)"

If you remember (or if you dont, here's a refresher), during the last Bout of Books challenge, I hosted an Acrostic Book Poem Challenge, and you guys came up with some wonderful poems. Of the winning poems, here is the one of Gone Girl! Isn't it great?! It was actually one of the motivating factors that made me pick up the book! :)

The poem was written by Book Bunny at Book Bunny's Burrow. Go check her out!

Girl, gone
Obedient wife
Naive husband
E​ndless game

Girl, gone
Illegal actions
Rude lies
L​ifeless marriage

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