Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I want to preface this review by saying that, aside from people singing its praises, I didn’t know very much, if anything, about the story prior to reading Gone Girl (Get a copy here.). I picked it up blind, just understanding that it was a murder-mystery.

Gone Girl revolves around Nick Dunne, a former writer who has moved back to Missouri from New York after he and his wife, Amy, are laid off.  Amy, a Manhattanite, isn’t thrilled to be in the more rustic suburban town. But, Nick’s parents are ill and they are almost completely broke. They buy a bar and seem to start settling in, though their marriage is more distant than ever. When Nick returns home on the evening of their fifth wedding anniversary, he finds their living room a wreck, their things scattered about and ruined, and Amy is nowhere to be found.  The longer the search for Amy goes on, the more we realize how dark things really were between them.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is presented in two different perspectives (arguably three). We hear from both Nick and Amy, both in first-person narrative. It’s very difficult to keep two parallel first-person narratives distinct, but Flynn manages to do it. With the exception of a prolific misuse of the word “literally,” the two maintain different attitudes and voices.

What’s unfortunate is that neither character’s voice felt particularly genuine. Nick is unhappy in his relationship. This much is made clear, but the emotional connections we’re supposed to see, namely his desire to be anything other than a man like his farther and the slow resentment building up towards Amy, seem very unjustified in the narrative. We don’t see him interact once with his father and we already know he has come back without hesitation or complaint to take care of BOTH his mother and his father. The narrative seems to jump from neutrality over Amy and a preoccupation over how he will be perceived without every explaining why he (1) instantly assumes that he will be seen as a culprit, or (2) why he isn’t that concerned about his wife’s safety. As a character, I thought Nick felt very flat.

Amy isn’t any better. Her initial diary entries do little more than paint a picture of a spoiled upper-middle class princess. The shows of resentment towards other children of privileged don’t make her special; instead, they emphasize her self-pretensions and entitlement. When the plot twists, Amy at least speaks in a way that makes sense with her actions.

The story has been praised for it’s twists. To be honest, I thought that the plot was pretty predictable. As I said before, I knew nothing about the plot going in, but I was never surprised. I thought that the plot points were overly built up and the story overall seemed anti-climactic. It seemed very much like there were check boxes Flynn was going through to be surprising or edgy. But the twists have all been used before, and they were neither exciting in their presentation nor in their justifications.

Overall, I gave this one a 2.5-3.

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