I’m actually really excited to write this post today because I’m reviewing my first completed novel of 2014 instead of recycling a review from one of the many books I read in 2012! (Yeah, I know … 1 out of a goal of 50. In February. Pathetic. But I’m determined to at least try to make reading more of a priority!)
Image courtesy of thedailynewsonline.com.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I felt like literally everyone was reading this book at one point. And honestly? It kind of weirded me out. This is a “Kristen” book (a.k.a. a book that might not appeal to the masses due to explicit language, graphic violence and/or sex, disturbing subject matter, etc. What can I say, I love dark and disturbing entertainment.). And yet there it was, at the top of the bestseller list.
I really wanted to read it, but much of 2013 was spent in a haze of wedding planning so I never got around to it. Until now.
The chapters alternate between the two main characters, a married couple named Nick and Amy Dunne. In the beginning, Amy’s chapters are excerpts from her diary which covers around 7 years of her life and discusses everything from the first time she met Nick to the beginning of the end of their happiness (they were both laid off from their jobs in New York City, which was just one in a series of events that caused great tension in their marriage).
I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I mean, I know a lot of people have read this book, but there’s a chance that someone who hasn’t will stumble upon this and then feel irritated that everything was laid out for them in one blog post.
So I won’t get into all of the details. What I will say is that nothing is as it seems. In the beginning of the book, I had a couple of theories about what happened to Amy. (For those who don’t know the basic premise of the book, Amy goes missing on the day of her fifth wedding anniversary. When Nick returns home from work after getting a call from a neighbor that his cat is outside, the door is open and it looks as though there was a struggle of some kind.) None of my theories were even remotely correct, though, which was actually a relief. I hate figuring things out early on.
This is my third Gillian Flynn novel, and I’ll definitely continue to read her work. Her books are always well-written and keep me engaged. Gone Girl was less extreme in certain ways than her previous novels, which I suppose explains the mass appeal and bestseller status. And while it definitely kept me interested, I found myself putting the book down quite a bit (sometimes for days). I felt like I read through her other two novels much more quickly, though I’m not sure why … Perhaps it was a pacing issue?
Before reading Gone Girl, I’d read several reviews (without spoilers, of course!). Almost all of them complained that none of the characters were particularly likable and/or that the ending sucked. I don’t really care whether or not I like the characters (you can read more about my thoughts on that, at least as it relates to female characters, here: You Know You’re Better Than This). As long as the author can write well and somehow make me care about what will happen next, I’m happy. And Gillian Flynn does this.
As for the ending, I honestly didn’t think it sucked. It wasn’t what I expected (not at all), but it wasn’t horrible. I’ve read so many books that just completely fall apart at the end, but this was not one of them. If I’d written the book, I would have ended it another way, but I assume Flynn realized there were several ways she could end it and chose the version that best suited her overall vision. It wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t make me feel like I’d invested too much time only to be let down.
As I said earlier, I will continue to read works published by Gillian Flynn. She has a way of making her characters seem real (which is probably why I like “unlikable” characters: they have flaws) and is particularly good at creating dialogue. A lot of authors can’t do this for whatever reason, so their characters end up sounding stiff and ridiculous. Additionally, Flynn spices up her novels with plenty of twists that keep readers guessing. I can really appreciate that since, as I mentioned before, I really hate when I see the “twist” a mile away. It’s like, “Seriously? This is all you’ve got?” So disappointing.
I would recommend Gone Girl to others. It’s definitely not as dark as her other two novels, so it might be a good place to start if you’re interested in checking out her work. If you’re a fan of mysteries/thrillers at all, it’s certainly worth a read. As I said, there were definitely lulls in the book but there were also a couple of points that kept me up late reading until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer.
I give this novel a solid FOUR STARS. I’m glad I started off my (hopefully!) 50 books in 2014 with a great book. It wasn’t phenomenal enough to warrant a perfect score, but I’d be happy to read it again in the future. I’m also kind of intrigued by the upcoming movie, though I’m not sure how I feel about Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne. He’s just … Not what I pictured, I guess.