What have we done to each other?
These are the questions that 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 did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?
First published: 2012
This story is messed up. Like, properly insane. I knew this was going to be a dark story before I started reading it, because that’s what everybody said, but this isn’t exactly what I pictured when I started reading. Reviewing this novel will be quite tricky, since this is the kind of book you do NOT want people to spoil for you. I will therefore not talk about the content of the second half of the book.
Gone Girl centres around the relationship between Nick and Amy, who goes missing on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. It quickly becomes clear that while they had a happy marriage in the early days, they weren’t as happy together after they moved back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri. They both obviously have their issues, and they’re both not exactly likeable characters. At all. It’s clear Nick is a douchebag right from the start, but Amy’s unlikeability is revealed much more gradually, as is the extent of the insanity and complexity of the story.
This is mostly due to the structure of the novel: one half of the story is told through Nick’s eyes, and the other through Amy’s. Nick narrates the ‘here and now’ — everything that happens after Amy’s disappearance. Nick’s chapters are interspersed with diary entries by Amy, starting in 2005 and going up to just before she disappears. I think this structure worked really well, since these types of stories are all about slowly unravelling what the heck is going on. Gone Girl kept me guessing until the big reveal, and while the possibility had crossed my mind, I had no idea what had actually happened to Amy until I actually read it.
I also very much liked Flynn’s writing — at times a bit crude, but always fitting both characters really well. It really sucked me into the story and made me want to keep turning the pages. However, that feeling did lessen a bit during the second half of the story, when things started to slow down slightly after the big reveal. While I liked having this big reveal relatively early on, it did mean that most of the suspense was now more or less gone. You are left with one burning question, though, and the answer to it is quite unexpected and somewhat anticlimactic.
Gone Girl was a highly anticipated read for me, and I was impressed with the complexity of the characters and the story. I really like mystery stories because of the way everything (usually) falls into place, and all the details that didn’t make sense before finally do. Gone Girl was very satisfying in that way. I do think it lost a bit of its strength during the second half, however, and I am still unsure of what I think of the ending. It fit with the story, but it also left me feeling very uncomfortable — which was most likely the whole point.