We’re back! Things have been a little crazy around here lately, but we may be ready to sit back down and get the bookish posts flowing again. Speaking of crazy… Let’s talk about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. The book was recommended to me by several friends, but their recommendations were very cryptic. ”I can’t tell you anything about the story, but you should read it.” So I started reading without having a clear idea at all of what kind of book I was actually going to be reading. My wife saw me reading the book early on and asked, “Gone Girl? Is that chick-lit or does she have a dragon tattoo?” As it turns out – neither.
This is a tough book to review, because it’s imperative that spoilers should be kept to a minimum. I’ll try to keep it brief and oblique. The story is told in alternating chapters by a man, Nick, and his wife, Amy. We learn very early on that Amy has disappeared and foul play appears to be involved. Nick’s narrative begins with the discovery that his wife is missing. Amy’s narrative begins in the couple’s past and describes how they met:
He makes a series of awful puns. I catch three-fourths of his movie references. Two-thirds, maybe. (Note to self: Rent The Sure Thing.) He refills my drink without me having to ask, somehow ferreting out one last cup of the good stuff. He has claimed me, placed a flag in me: I was here first, she’s mine, mine. It feels nice, after my recent series of nervous, respectful post-feminist men, to be a territory. He has a great smile, a cat’s smile. He should cough out yellow Tweety Bird feathers, the way he smiles at me. He doesn’t ask what I do for a living, which is fine, which is a change. (I’m a writer, did I mention?) He talks to me in his river-wavy Missouri accent; he was born and raised outside of Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark Twain, the inspiration for Tom Sawyer.
As the story progresses, revelations are tossed out like Molotov cocktails upsetting almost all that we think that we know about what is going on in the story. It’s unsettling and deeply gripping. At one point one of the characters acknowledges the shifting landscape:
Don’t fret, we’ll sort this out: the true and the not true and the might as well be true.
Gone Girl is a “holy crap” book. Several times in the story you will say “holy crap”, out loud, when Flynn throws yet another unexpected bomb at the reader. I read this book in a day and a half. It only took that long because I had to sleep (at some point) and go to work. The ending, maybe the most unexpected outcome of all, has left some readers shaking their heads. I think it’s entirely in keeping with Nick and Amy, but maybe I’ve said too much. Check it out if you like a solid mystery that keeps you on your toes. And don’t tell anyone else what’s going on!