Book Review: ‘Gone Girl’ – Gillian Flynn



I hadn’t heard of Gillian Flynn – the author of Gone Girl before, nor had I heard of the book. But most of all, the name didn’t even appeal to me, didn’t do anything for me. You know what I mean? When you see a book, there’s something that happens inside you, there’s a feeling that passes through your body telling you to pick up the book and read it at the earliest. No such thing happened to me when I was at this book store in Meerut, with my husband. He loves buying books on politics especially by Indian authors, since they are not available so easily here in the US. And being a book lover, I wanted to get loads of them too. This one seemed to be one of the ‘new’ ones and I decided to add it to the many kilograms of books that we were buying anyways. Sigh… it added to the overall weight. But the heck – a book is a book is a book after all.

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Gone Girl BookAs luck would have it, I didn’t feel like reading it on the plane, nor did I touch it after reaching home. It went straight into the bookshelf once we unpacked after reaching home. And then there was competition. I had also bought my favorite author – Nicholas Sparks and so when the time presented itself, I chose See Me over Gone Girl. What a lovely book it is and you can read my review on See Me here. There are times when I am on a reading spree and after completing See Me, when I looked at my shelf again, Gone Girl jumped at me. I touched it, and hesitatingly removed it from my shelf and sat on the bed. Man! How boring I felt it was. But it isn’t in my nature to let go of any book easily. I feel bad and have endured many a pathetic and really boring books. But actually this one didn’t turn out that bad, the way I felt initially. In fact I found it quite thrilling and exciting after having endured one-fourth of it, because by then I really got hooked. Okay, let me straight get into the story-line.

Story-line of Gone Girl

The book is divided into two parts. The first part recounts the story of Nick and Amy Dunne chapter by chapter, each taking turns to tell their side and both tell us a different story. Initially this chapter by chapter individual story is what I found a bit boring, till I read enough to keep me going, and then there was seriously no looking back. The second part though is where the fun really starts. Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy’s marriage. In Amy’s journals, she writes about her relationship with Nick in the past and Nick writes from the present. The two stories are not very alike. Amy’s point of view on marriage makes her seem happier and easier to live with than how she is depicted by Nick, who describes her as an anti-social element, obsessed with perfection, almost to the point of hatred. Also, Amy’s depiction makes Nick seem more aggressive than he claims in his own story.

As the story goes, Nick loses his job as a journalist and Amy loses her job as a magazine writer in New York City – a city that Amy is crazy about. The couple then relocates to a small hometown in Missouri because Nick wanted to take care of his sick mother. Nick and his sister Go start their own business by opening a bar with the last of Amy’s trust fund. Although the bar allows the Dunne family to make a reasonable living, the marriage takes a very different turn. Amy loved her life in New York and hates life in Missouri as well as living in the house that Nick is renting.

The twist in the story happens on their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy disappears without a trace. While initially Nick has everyone’s sympathy on his side, over time he becomes a suspect in her disappearance for many obvious reasons. He used his wife’s money to start a business, increased her insurance policy, and seemed unemotional about her disappearance in public appearances, many a times smiling for the camera when he should have come across as a miserable man dying to know the whereabouts of his much loved wife, or even whether she was alive in the first place. Much to his dismay, the police later find items that Nick had denied purchasing in the woodshed in the garden of his sister’s house. That seemed like the perfect hideout to the cops. Later, it is also revealed that Amy was pregnant – a child that Nick did not want. In a box found in the shed were 3 doll figurines, each of the dolls representing the wife, the husband, and the child. Frustrated and not knowing what to do, Nick finally feels that he needs to hire a lawyer, so he contacts Tanner Bolt – a lawyer who specializes in defending men accused of killing their spouses. (Of course this also raises the suspicion of the cops).

But the real bend in the story and where I was pleasantly surprised is in the second half of the book. That’s where the realization dawns that the main characters are absolutely unreliable narrators who have not been revealing the truth and were giving out false and incomplete information. Nick is having an affair with one of his college students and Amy is alive and hiding. She is trying to frame Nick for her ‘death.’ Her diary, when found reveals fake facts which are only intended to implicate Nick. While Nick soon realizes that it is all Amy’s doing and that she is trying to frame him, he has no way of proving it. He is still the suspect on the case and the media is after his blood.

Gone Girl Movie
Gone Girl Movie

With Nick’s public image having gone for a complete toss, he along with his lawyer work to make it better. He is granted an interview with Sharon – a high profile TV journalist. During the interview with her, he pretends to be an apologetic husband and appeals to Amy to come back home. Also, in the process of trying to find his wife through her old contacts – stalkers and admirers who supposedly harmed her in the past, Nick realizes the astonishing truth that it was Amy who had set them up for seeing other women or for not doing things the way she had wanted them to. He is shocked and his hatred and anger for his wife rise even more.

In her motel hideout, poor Amy is robbed by other equally suspicious guests. In her desperation she thinks of another criminal strategy where she gets help from her first boyfriend – whom she had fed some pathetic stories about her father abusing her, just to her boyfriend to fall in love with her and adore her. Unfortunately he is taken by her once again and agrees to hide her. But the free spirit that Amy is, she soon feels trapped in his house as he becomes over-possessive and spends every possible minute with her. When Amy sees Nick’s TV interview with Sharon, for some reason she is convinced that Nick really does want her back. The daring girl that she is, Amy lures her first boyfriend into her bed and then murders him, to finally return to Nick.

Amy explains that she had been kidnapped and imprisoned by her former boyfriend. Her story doesn’t cut ice with Nick, who is sure that she actually killed her first boyfriend and that her pregnancy was a big fake. Unfortunately, he stays in the marriage because he has no proof of her crimes and deceptions. But he still works behind the scenes to try and find proof of Amy’s misgivings and wrong doings. Amy forces him to lie about his love, hoping that he will love her the way she wants. She begins writing her memoirs, while Nick writes how he is still in love with her. But Amy’s criminal mind never stops working. She is absolutely aware of his intentions to expose her and that makes her finally play her last winning card, that forces Nick to make the decision to stick with her for life. What that decision is? I won’t let the cat out of the bag. Do read the book for that!

My take on Gone Girl

I haven’t minced my words on how I found the book utterly boring in the beginning. But if you can sustain the first few chapters, then it is a real crime thriller full of mystery and suspense and keeps you going. It is a ‘breakthrough’ story after the author’s first two books. She has laid her characters very cleverly and they are so well imagined that it is difficult to let go of both the main characters and you keep wanting more and more. It is a must-read book! I haven’t seen the movie et, but it is an amazing one and I will see it soon.


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