“Who are you?
What have we done to each other?
These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?”
It’s all well and good reading books about good people doing good things, or about good people fighting back after having had bad things done to them. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s far more interesting to read stories about people who you’re not too sure whether they are good or bad (in the most naive of terms), and about people for whom your feelings continually fluctuate. Gone Girl fulfills this criteria, at the same time pushing the boundaries of a protagonist’s likability, and making the reader question whether, after all, a character must be good in order for you to care about them.
Never have I found like swivelling so quickly to dislike, or my jaw dropping quite so dramatically. Flynn certainly gives her readers plenty to think about and to discuss over whispered “have you read?” conversations. It is imperative that these conversations be whispered because, as of today, the film adaptation of Gone Girl is released into cinemas and all inevitable discussion of ‘spoilers’ and ‘twists’ must be avoided at all costs. There is nothing worse than reading a book in which you know there will be a huge twist, because you just end up continually trying to guess what said twist will be rather than allowing yourself to be swept up in the present of the narrative. Twists are supposed to be surprised, or at least that is what I thought. Let’s try and keep it that way. Saying that, I had my suspicions with Gone Girl‘s prose and there is something just so thrilling about not being able to trust the narrative. Think Atonement, but times a thousand.
With all that said (and ranted), I have to say just what an easy and gripping read Gone Girl is. It’s certainly not my usual genre but I found myself slipping into it very quickly thanks to Flynn’s easy and compelling style. Some parts of the plot were a little too unbelievable to my liking, but I suppose that Amy’s personality more than makes up for any discrepancies of these sort. It’s a pretty incredulous story all around, to be honest, but it’s rooted by probably the most dysfunctional and interesting couple of modern fiction. Flawed wouldn’t even begin to cover it. But I like the fact that it’s so difficult to pinpoint their relationship, and so easy to question: is this a love story? Or is it, in fact, the exact opposite? Because I think this might be the most convincing love story I’ve read in a while, however painful it is to admit it.
I won’t spoil anything else for anybody who would like to remain ignorant of the story and read it before watching the film (please, as always, read the book first. Narrative twists simply never come across well on screen and Flynn had admitted that she had altered the screenplay, undoubtedly for a more “Hollywood” ending) but I will say that it was a thoroughly enjoyable read which surprises, intrigues and exasperates the reader in equal measures. Just like the characters themselves, Gone Girl has its flaws, but in a society obsessed with both the legal system and the media’s portrayal of figures going through this system, Flynn makes some very interesting observations about social perception, Gone Girl in many ways serving as a very self-aware commentary of the genre it seeks to emulate.
“You two, you’re fucking addicted to each other. You are literally going to be a nuclear family, you know that? You will explode. You will fucking detonate.”