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Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

May 13, 2013

29. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

Length: 432 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Started: 20 April 2013
Finished: 25 April 2013

Where did it come from? Purchased at a local bookstore.
Why do I have it? Book club selection this month.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 13 March 2013.

A missing wife and
suspicious circumstances
are half the story…

Summary: Nick Dunne is just your average guy. Things haven’t been going particularly well for him and his wife Amy lately – they both lost their NYC jobs, and had to move back to the small Missouri town where he grew up to care for his ailing mother and mentally deteriorating father. Nick knew Amy wasn’t particularly happy, and that their relationship had its share of troubles, but then he comes home on the day of their anniversary to find the front door open, the living room in disarray, and his wife missing. As the police investigate, they come to believe that Amy is dead… and Nick is their number-one suspect.

Review: This is one of those reviews that’s almost impossible to write, because the best things about this book, the things I most want to discuss, are super-spoilery, and half of the fun of this book is the twists and turns that Flynn takes her readers through, and I don’t want to take that away from any potential readers. For starters, I will say that my summary above is really only a summary of the first section of the book, due to the plot twists. Flynn’s great at yanking her readers around; every time I thought I had the book pinned down, and thought I had a handle on what was really going on, she’d throw another completely unexpected wrench into the works. It’s not what I would consider a “typical” unreliable narrator book (like Liar or The Lace Reader), although there’s definitely elements of that. Both Nick and Amy are never entirely truthful, either when it comes to their interactions with others, or even with themselves, and it’s very easy as a reader to get caught up in their perspectives on things, and very difficult to remember that what we are being told may not be entirely true either.

Flynn is also good at building and maintaining a crazy sense of tension. Maybe too good: while I read the last half of the book all in a rush, during the early stages I could only read for an hour or less before the tension in the book would start making me anxious and I’d have to put it down. Part of that is because while neither Nick nor Amy are particularly likable, there are elements of each of them that are recognizable, and relatable, and that was a pretty uncomfortable feeling. A big theme of the book is “how well do we ever really know the people we love,” and to hear those familiar thoughts from characters who went on to do the things they did was pretty discomfiting. The tension of the book is also aided by Flynn’s incredibly tight plot, for all the twists and turns; every time I’d think I saw an out, something the characters hadn’t considered, Flynn was always two steps ahead of me.

I read this book for my book club, and I’m really glad; I don’t think it’s something I necessarily would have picked up on my own. It wasn’t exactly a fun read, but it was definitely an engrossing and fascinating one, and one that is going to stick with me for a while. This book totally messed with my mind, but it was a hell of a ride. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: There are some definite similarities to Tana French’s In the Woods, although Flynn’s prose doesn’t hold a candle to French’s. (It’s not bad, either, just unremarkable, which actually works in the book’s favor by forcing the attention onto the plot.) Fans of psychological thrillers should definitely enjoy this book, and even those (like me) for whom it’s not their usual fare should give it a chance.

As a side note, this makes an *amazing* book club discussion book, but only if everyone in your group finishes the book beforehand.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Boston Bibliophile, Jenn’s Bookshelves, Rivers I Have Known, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.

I’d fallen in love with Amy because I was the ultimate Nick with her. Loving her made me superhuman, it made me feel alive. At her easiest, she was hard, because her brain was always working, working, working – I had to exert myself just to keep pace with her. … Amy made me believe I was exceptional, that I was up to her level of play. That was both our making and our undoing. Because I couldn’t handle the demands of greatness. I began craving ease and average-ness, and I hated myself for it, and ultimately, I realized, I punished her for it. I turned her into the brittle, prickly thing she became. I had pretended to be one kind of man and revealed myself to be quite another. Worse, I convinced myself our tragedy was entirely her making. –Location 3829

I tried so hard to be easy. But it was unsustainable. It turned out he couldn’t sustain his side either: the witty banter, the clever games, the romance, and the wooing. It all started collapsing on itself. I hated Nick for being surprised when I became me. … Committing to Nick, feeling safe with Nick, being happy with Nick, made me realize that there was a Real Amy in there, and she was so much better, more interesting and complicated and challenging, than Cool Amy. Nick wanted Cool Amy anyway. Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? –Location 3965

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 2402: “Of course, I didn’t share any of these musings with Amy, so I’m sure I came off as the goldbricker I so often am.” – A fraudulent, worthless substitute; an idler or shirker.
    .
  • Location 5173 “Aiding him in his budding vexillology, which sounds less like a study of flags than a study in annoyance, which would have suited my father’s attitude toward me.” – The study of flags.
    .
  • Location 5896: ““Oh, and he has a torn labrum, which is the same injury baseball pitchers get, but he’s not sure how he got it.”” – A cuff of cartilage that forms a cup in the shoulder joint into which the humerus fits.
    .
  • Location 6919: “Men capable of being uxorious.” – Excessively submissive or devoted to one’s wife.
    .

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2013 10:05 am

    One of my lit profs used to encourage us to always look up unknown words in the dictionary. She made her point once by taking a dense passage of Paradise Lost (which we were reading) and asking if anyone knew the definition of certain words. “Uxorious” was one of those words, and having the proper definition opened up that passage like fine wine left to breathe. I’ve looked up unknown words every time since that moment. Seeing “uxorious” on your vocab list brought back a host of wonderful memories, and reminds me again how valuable it is to be diligent in looking up definitions as I read.

    • May 14, 2013 11:50 am

      I normally just jot them down as I read, and look them up later, for fear of breaking my reading flow. But that is one of the things I really like about reading on the Kindle is the instantaneous dictionary.

  2. May 13, 2013 11:41 am

    You know, I’ve been on the fence with this book for a while now. I want to read it but haven’t been able to justify purchasing it and so on but your review tips it for me. I’ll definitely read it.

    • May 14, 2013 11:51 am

      Claire – Awesome! I hope you like it! It looks like the paperback is coming out in… September? if that sways your decision at all. :)

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