Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
'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?'
I did not have the luxury of being able to read this novel in one sitting which was a shame as it was so captivating I really wanted to read on and on. However I couldn’t wait until I picked it up again and it was easy to remember where I had left it.
The story is basically that on the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary Amy goes missing. Nick has been out early to get some last minute things to celebrate he comes home to find the door wide open and Amy gone. There looks to have been some sort of struggle in the living room but other than that there is nothing. Nick is number one suspect and has nothing to prove where he was at the time this happened although he swears he did not kill her. We see the trial by media of Nick played out in front of the public which condemn him and Flynn shows how easy it is to make someone look guilty with no actual proof. Amy’s diaries are found in the house which she has written since she first met Nick up to the time she disappears and they paint a very disturbing picture of Nick and hint that Amy is afraid of him which adds to stack up a pretty ‘conclusive’ case against him.
The story is so cleverly interwoven and expertly written to play with your mind that by the end of the novel I felt as if I had been through a psychological journey with the characters. It has so much going on, murder, manipulation, marital breakdown, twists and turns and perfectly crafted toxic characters that makes you feel one moment Nick was the ‘villain’ to changing your mind the next and making Amy the ‘villain’.
It is a masterly piece of writing that questions how well we can ever know each other and especially the people that we love. How an innocent action or word can toss someone over the edge without you realising it until it is too late – brilliant suspense. The first person narration allows us to be Nick and to see through his eyes and hear through his ears, this lets the reader get to know him and to form an opinion of him, allowing us to ‘experience’ all that he goes through so that by the time the police and media have labelled him as a cold hearted killer we can’t quite go with this. Nick is flawed, he is evasive but on the whole he appears to be a genuine and good person.
However we then have a narrative by Amy his wife who talks to us via her diaries which makes the reader unsure of whether she is dead or not, and Amy paints an altogether different picture of Nick as the book progresses. Amy’s account through her diaries makes the reader very empathetic with her, she tells of brutality by Nick and how she becomes afraid of him. I then really believed Nick was capable of murdering her but there was a little niggle that all was not right with Amy. And it’s not really until Part Two ‘Boy Meets Girl’ that we begin to see Amy in a different light.
Because we think we know what has happened (Amy has been abducted or killed) we start to make assumptions, this is very clever as Flynn uses this to connect us to the characters, they are making assumptions about each other too, they don’t really know what each other is thinking or feeling, what each one is capable of, and of course we know that as this is a psychological thriller there will be red herrings along the way.
The novel is very much a product of the present times and Flynn manages to link the reader through the emotional roller coaster that both Nick and Amy feel with the loss of their jobs, the damage this is doing to their relationship, family trauma of Nick’s mother dying and having to return to his family home which makes it easy to identify with them both.
Overall the book was captivating, intriguing, cleverly crafted and a very good psychological thriller with a lot of curve balls thrown in so I would give this book a 5 star rating.
I suppose the only disappointment was the end, without giving this away it didn’t really tie the ends up for me tight enough, there was unfinished business. It would have been good to have the ending clearer but having said this there is enough material for a sequel here if Gillian Flynn has that in mind – I hope she does!