Book Review: ‘Gone Girl’ Gives All

Maya Reddy ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

gone girl

With the recent release of its movie adaptation, it seems only fitting to review number three on Publisher Weekly’s Best Seller List, Gone Girl. Published in June 2012 through Crown Publishing Group, Gillian Flynn’s story follows thirty three year old Nick Dunne, whose wife goes missing. With signs of a struggle and a cover-up at the crime scene along with an already rocky marriage, Nick soon becomes the prime suspect.

Flynn divides Gone Girl into three parts not to provide a physical structure to the novel, but to mirror the flow of the plot. The chapters involving Nick’s point of view in the first section, switch off with old diary entries of his missing wife, Amy. With both in first person, it’s a good idea to keep the concept of the unreliable narrator in mind while reading.

While first person narration may scare some people off, Flynn deftly uses it to create a vivid picture for the audience while keeping the action of the story present and compelling. It’s a book meant to be adapted into a movie; with visually tense scenes and continuous action. Flynn doesn’t try too hard to make Nick or Amy overly likable. Nick and Amy’s motivations are clear but not justified; Flynn creates these flawed individuals and allows the audience to make up their own mind about these characters

Characterization besides Nick and Amy has its spotty moments. Andie, a driving force of conflict for Nick and Amy is woefully underdeveloped. While she is meant to serve as an antithesis to Amy, her character lacks the motivation that brings a character to life making it a rather dull rivalry to read. Although characters like Desi, Amy’s ex-boyfriend, and Go, Nick’s sister, are multifaceted and interesting, Flynn’s characterization problems root in her reliance of clichés. This is especially disappointing because her characters are at their best when they break clichés and stereotypes.

Ultimately the takeaway from the novel is the messy, complicated relationship between Nick and Amy. Flynn creates a cynical outlook on the realities of marriage that might leave the reader with a desire to never get married or have a close relationship again. How well do people know their loved ones? How fleeting is love? Underneath its inventive and dramatic plot are these universal ideas that will hit the reader in a surprising way.

The emotion of Gone Girl is always present and rooted in the action, despite the drama of the novel sometimes reaching a level of absurdity. Albeit having a slow build in the first part, Flynn creates such an amount of tension that makes it worth it and makes the climax all the more surprising and exciting.  With little knowledge of the books ranked higher, it would be unfair to wholeheartedly say Gone Girl should be number one or two on Publisher Weekly’s Bestseller List. What can be said is that Gone Girl certainly will leave an impression on its reader.

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