I know I’m late to the Gillian Flynn party, but better late than never to have read at all. GONE GIRL, published by Penguin Random House in 2012, is Flynn’s most recent work – not including her short story THE GROWNUP, originally entitled “What Do You Do?” as part of George R. R. Martin’s ROGUES (already added to my reading shelf).
It’s tricky writing anything about GONE GIRL without ruining the “I see dead people” twist, but I’ll do my best. Still, minor SPOILERS are ahead.
Like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, we have another picture-perfect couple with a love which goes horribly wrong. Nick Dunne is a handsome, charismatic, laid-back magazine writer who considers himself the luckiest man in the world to have met and fallen in love with Amazing Amy.
Amy Dunne, formerly Elliot, is blond, beautiful, and frighteningly intelligent. Daughter of the authors of the successful children’s book series titled – Amazing Amy – she’s grown up in the spotlight and shadow of her own perfect caricature. Meeting Nick is the best thing to have happened to her.
On the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s five year wedding anniversary, Nick receives a call at The Bar – a drinking hole he co-owns with his sister – from his neighbor across the street to inform him that his front door is open and the indoor cat is outside. When Nick rushes home, he finds signs of a struggle in the living room and his wife gone.
During the first half of the novel, the story bounces back and forth between the course of the investigation as told through Nick’s eyes and the years leading up to Amy’s disappearance as written in her diary.
The early years of their courtship and marriage seem idyllic, as each describe the other from their respective Mars and Venus perspectives. However, the good years don’t last when both experience a “his and hers” layoff from their New York magazine jobs, hand over all their money to Amy’s financially-troubled parents, and move to Missouri to help care for Nick’s dying mother and Alzheimer-striken father.
With Amy missing, Nick is left alone to follow the clues in his wife’s elaborate anniversary treasure hunt. But the closer he gets to the end, the more guilty he looks, forcing him to mislead and outright lie to the detectives on the case.
The second half of the novel piles one bizarre twist on top of the other as Amy and Nick try to outwit each other. They play the kind of game where only one should be left standing, but Amy’s foolproof plan proves she’ll stop at nothing to get her way.
Flynn writes GONE GIRL as a formidable love story where the happy parts are the scariest. With a mixture of dark humor and even darker egos, the characters speak to the reader directly, making the story feel intimate and exciting.
Even if you’ve seen and liked the movie GONE GIRL, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the nefarious Amy, I still recommend reading the book. I watched the movie first which made me want to read the non-adapted version. Although a well-made film, the screen version is not able to convey every nuance of the novel, every shaded emotion, each sinister thought . . . subtle glance . . . horrid moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I love movies and enjoyed this one very much, but there’s something about the details and resolution of this mystery revealing itself to me one word at a time and one page at a time which brought me more delight than the movie. Gillian Flynn has a way with language and inner dialogue and truly knows how to make the reader cringe, bristle and loathe.