For all the hype Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, was getting, I was expecting it to be the mystery/thriller of the year for 2012 (as many blogs, publications, lists, etc. claimed). Sure, it was gripping and held my attention, but by the end all evaluations of how good or bad the book was were replaced by one thought: “Wow, Flynn has to be a special kind of crazy to write this.” And not the fun kind of crazy, more like the oh goodness that lady has issues sort of crazy. Upon looking up her picture and reading her biography, I was reassured of her apparent normalcy. But I still wonder, what inspires authors to write stories like this one, seemingly fueled by so much contempt, suppressed rage, and maybe a hint of desperation? How do authors create and get inside the mind of characters like the ones in this book, without drawing from some aspect of their own lives? I sincerely hope, for Flynn’s sake, that she was not drawing on personal experience when she wrote this book.
The story is about Nick and Amy, and for a good portion of the book the chapters alternate between Nick in the present day and diary entries from Amy. Married five years and living in North Carthage, Missouri, they both feel stuck in their relationship, neither one of them making the other happy the way they used to (if they ever really did – that part is debatable). But then on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears. Nick returns home to find his front door left wide open, a tea kettle brewing, an iron left on upstairs, and signs of a struggle in the living room. Nick, being the husband, is of course the primary suspect, and he doesn’t exactly help his case with his strange behavior or by repeatedly lying to the police. Yet, he doggedly maintains that he had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance. So then what did happen to Amy?
If you think this is going to be your typical whodunit mystery, you’re wrong. In fact, the reader learns what happened to Amy about midway through the book. That’s one of the reasons this book is a refreshing change of pace. Nothing is as it seems and the characters are all so incredibly twisted, it’s hard to root for anyone. Instead, the reader just has to surrender to the story and let it take them wherever it is going to, which I can guarantee will be a place least expected. By that, of course, I mean the ending, which many readers were up in arms about. I personally don’t have a problem with the ending. I’m not sure there were many other ways the book could have ended so perfectly. And with such perfect justice.
Although I still only give this book a 3 out of 5 stars, the more I think about how everything ended, the more I find I like the book. Especially for those who like a good suspense story, I think Gone Girl is worth checking out. I’m still not quite sold on it being one of the best of 2012, but I still found it to be a totally engrossing read. And even if you don’t love it, it should at the very least make you feel better about your own lives and relationships.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.