Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl seems to have been the hot book of the season (when I first requested it at the library, I was number 900-something on the waiting list), and it's easy to see why: it's a mystery, psychological thriller, and CSI/Law & Order episode all in one. The premise is that Nick's wife Amy disappears the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, and soon signs point to Nick as a murderer. In alternating chapters with Nick's narration of the present and Amy's diary entries of the past, the reader learns about their imploding marriage while uncovering what really happened that morning.

The book is divided into three sections, and I was totally hooked in the first. Amy and Nick were very much real people--albeit seriously flawed people who were tearing one another apart--and you could see how their marriage might have arrived at the point it did. I could identify with Amy's early "pretending" in the relationship, feigning being the "cool girl" (the girl who looks great without trying; who doesn't mind when her boyfriend/husband blows her off; the girl who's up for pizza and beer and football and never insists on doing those "girly" things) because she wants Nick to like her and she wants them to have a good relationship. And I could also understand Nick, who often felt like a failure and ended up blaming Amy, regardless of her role in the matter. They were still awful people to each other most of the time, but there was human-ness in their feelings and behavior.

In this first section, there's lots of excitement and tension as more and more is revealed. It's clear that both Amy and Nick are, to some extent, unreliable narrators, which constantly kept me guessing about what really happened. In fact, I was so excited, I emailed my sister and recommended the book to her when I was barely half way through.

However, my enthusiasm dimmed some by the second section. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Instead of both Amy and Nick seeming real but flawed, Amy turns out to be absolutely nuts. I no longer was reading a book about a troubled marriage gone very wrong; instead I was reading a cable criminal drama (which had borrowed liberally from Sleeping with the Enemy) about a psychopath. Once this section opens, much of the mystery is gone.

The third section brings in a final disappointing twist: both Amy and Nick are nuts. Certifiably crazy. Though the ending was quite creepy, it was also unsatisfying after all the early build up.

I think I'd still recommend the book, even though the end half of the book didn't live up to the first half.

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