My plan was to read this if February when it’s a book club selection. My plan was to wait to see the movie. But plans never work out, do they? After so many of the girls at work told me how much they enjoyed it and how well done the movie was, I caved. This has been on my shelf for over a year because I found a used hardcover of it for $2 at a library book sale and knew it was a steal. So I read it. And now I want to see the movie. And not because of Ben Affleck.
Summary from Goodreads:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
Okay, before we get into my reactions, I want to be sure everyone here knows I write spoiler reviews. So here it is, spelled out in pretty letters
This Review Contains Spoilers
Now we can move on. I hated every single character in this book. Every one! For a while I thought I was going to like Margo but in the end even she bothered me. The Elliots were insufferable and I wanted them to disappear for most of the book. But I was still sucked in. I was so engrossed that I disregarded house cleaning for a few days and put off studying for my stats exam. But it was worth it. I think it’s a huge credit to Flynn that I could hate Nick and Amy so much but love her book. Kudos to her.
Just because I didn’t like the characters didn’t mean I didn’t believe they could be real. Flynn’s characters were so frightening because they could walk off the page. They had flaws, which is normal. To be more interesting, their flaws were murder and infidelity, but no big deal, right? The scariest things are things that could happen to you and that’s why Amy was so frightening.
Between the two protagonists, I liked Nick. He was a scumbag in some ways, but I think he redeemed himself by the end. Outside of those two, Margo was my favorite. She seemed the most relateable and not-crazy of the bunch and because she was out of the Amy/Nick loop, I identified with her frustration and confusion at each turn.
I felt so bad for Andie, which is saying a lot about how every character in this book was a terrible person. I sympathized most for the character who knowingly had an affair with a married man. Wow. I think she was treated really badly by Nick through their whole relationship from being ‘the other woman’ to being dropped so unceremoniously to having to confess her sins to the world. All of this sounds terrible.
I loved the beginning of the second section when we learned the truth about Amy. I was five seconds from writing ‘Nick totally did it’ in the margin of my book and then I turned the page and BAM! What a sadistic, evil person! I was so shocked especially to find out how detailed everything Amy had done in her planning turned out to be. She was so set on doing this for the longest time. And then to find out what she did to other people, the one guy she had dated and her friend from high school, it painted a great picture of this very smart and jealous person. I loved her character so much.
The last page really made me think. When Amy said she wanted to have the last word, I was afraid of what she’d do to Nick or her baby to make sure she had the last word. I can’t imagine much more that she could do to Nick, but the innocent child being subjected to this evil woman is too much to bear. I’m not sure if Flynn would use these characters in another book, but I think their child would be an interesting character to read more about.
This book is supposed to make us wonder how well we know those around us and how much of a front people are putting on at any given time. Do I really know my husband as much as I think I do? Does he really not mind watching the Office with me and does he really like cereal as much as it seems he does? Maybe in reality he’s plotting to kill Steve Carell and he detests crunchy sweet flakes. But in the end, I have to trust that I do know him as well as I think I do and that he’s not going to do to me what Amy did to Nick. Granted, I’m not cheating on him and haven’t made him move away from the one place he ever felt comfortable, so maybe Amy wouldn’t ‘Gone Girl herself’ to me, but I really don’t know. She’s kind of nuts-O.
Writer’s Takeaway: Flynn shows us how fun it can be to play with your readers head! There were so many times when I knew there was something that I wasn’t being told and it played with my head. Nick would admit that he lied but not tell us what about. Amy was acting sweet toward Desi, you knew something was up. That’s the fun of being the writer, of knowing how something is going to end and how the story will get there but not letting the reader know right away what’s happening. Flynn did this wonderfully. I was disappointed in the same technique in James Dashner’s The Maze Runner but here it worked for me. I think the difference is that in Flynn’s book, the character knew more than the reader and in Dashner’s, the character knew as much as the reader.
An amazing read and I’m really excited to see the film. Four out of Five stars.
This book fulfills Missouri in my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.
Until next time, write on.