A NOTE ABOUT MY REVIEW: So my review of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl will be split into two parts: one that everyone can read (no spoilers) and one that only people who finished the book can read. Actually, everyone *can* read both parts. It’s a free country after all. You can read whatever you want. But if you plan on reading Gone Girl, I don’t recommend reading the second part of this post. The book is a thriller–much depends on the your discovering details as it moves along.
REVIEW FOR EVERYONE: Let me say first–this novel belongs on the NYT Bestseller list. The list is currently populated by books that pale in comparision (*cough* Fifty Shades) in terms of pyschological insight, engaging story and characters, and sharp wit. This book made me smarter. Seriously, I learned new words and lots of other useful shit. (If C.K. reads this post and then reads Gone Girl, he will definitely want to know what “useful shit” I learned.)
A few good points
- Strong narrative voice: I should say “voices.” There are two narrators: Nick and Amy (in the form of diary entries). Both are intriguing, realistic, and reveal deafening psychological problems. I don’t like either of them and yet I’m completely obsessed with both.
- The twist: I’m not going to say what it is, of course. But I will say that I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. With thrillers (either in film or books), your brain can’t help but try to figure things out before the author/director gets you there. It’s part of the amusement, I think. You want to have the “gotcha” feeling before the protagonist gets puts all the clues together.
- The pacing: This is the most perfectly paced book I’ve read in a long time. Nothing is superfluous. Everything is meaningful. Flynn’s writing is tight–either providing details for the kidnapping/murder or the illuminating some deep recess of the character’s mind (and in the process defining his/her moral code).
One disappointment: I didn’t feel satisfied at the end. More on that below in the second part of the review.
SPOILERS ABOUND! SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK!
REVIEW FOR FELLOW READERS OF GONE GIRL: Oh my GOD! Part Two of this novel, people! I didn’t see it coming. Actually, I saw some hints of it coming but still, nothing jived with Amy’s personable diary entries. I absolutely adored that first or second chapter in part two when she describes how she framed Nick, how she hates her parents, how she did it all to punish him for cheating on her. The framing is just impressive–you know you’re dealing with a very intelligent narrator. The resentment for Rand and MaryBeth had me exclaiming “Of course! Who wouldn’t hate those parents? They took her trust fund!”
And if the framing has you loving how intelligent Amy is, the punishment of Nick damns her as a reliable narrator. I love a good unreliable narrator (Hello, Nick Carraway in Gatsby!). Furthermore, Nick Dunne was the unreliable one / the unlikeable one but after the shift, Amy fills that role. As a reader I was totally on Nick’s side–the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. And the scope and dedication of such an elaborate punishment reveals Amy to be a sociopath fit for an orange jumpsuit.
My one disappointment was the ending. However, I think my reading this on a Kindle killed it for me. I laid down in bed Monday night and looked at the Kindle: 94% at the bottom. I thought–I can finish this tonight. But with 6% left there has to be another twist. And I was spoiled with how beautifully paced the twists in the narratives were. Nick has to get Amy somehow. Boney has to figure something out. Jacquelyn Collings finally gets a sympathetic soapbox in the media and a really good lawyer. But the novel ended abruptly as 97% and went into acknowledgements. Where’s my last 3%? Where’s my twist?
But nothing! Nick just stays with Amy because she’s having the baby he always wanted. That baby, by the way, has no chance. Flynn created a completely innocent victim. Who would want to be endowed with those genes? So the only character who has my sympathy is the baby. However, I wanted vengeance despite not liking any of the victimized characters. And maybe that’s the point–Nick and Amy are screwed up and deserve each other. I guess Desi is just collateral damage.
Now, I’m reading Gregory Maguire’s Out of Oz, fourth and final in the Wicked Series. Talk about superb writing and getting smarter from reading. The man is a genius.
I read the wikipedia pages for the first three books: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. I think I need to read them all again to be prepared for Out of Oz. So much rich history there.