I was finally able to read Gone Girl (2012) by Gillian Flynn. I'm a little behind the rest of the crowd, as always, but by the time I heard about it--months ago--the waiting list at the library was in the hundreds. Fortunately I had plenty of other reading material to occupy myself while I waited.
It's always a little odd to read something that you've heard so much about and that you've waited so long for. After seeing so many reviews, I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but I decided I had to read it in order to make up my own mind. In addition, so many people had complained about the ending that as soon as I started reading I started bracing myself for whatever it was that was coming up at the end.
Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne are a couple in their thirties. Nick was raised in a small town in Missouri and Amy was raised in New York, a cherished only child. The couple had moved from New York City back to Nick's hometown two years before when both of them lost their jobs and Nick's mom got sick. The book starts out the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy suddenly and mysteriously disappears. The book switches perspective between Nick during the present and Amy in the past through diary entries.
This book was better than I was expecting. The writing was incredibly good, combining the suspense of a missing person's case, the emotional roller coaster of the collapse of a marriage, and the in-depth psychology of all of the characters. I stopped reading it one night because I had to finish some stuff up for work. But after about an hour, I just picked it back up again. I couldn't let it go. Before I read Gone Girl, I wasn't planning on reading any more of Flynn once I got through what I considered to be her most "famous" novel, but now I think I'll end up reading all of her books.
I like to discuss all my reactions books without having to tiptoe around plot points, trying not to ruin it for other people. So below are some of my uncensored thoughts:
Flynn was leading me by the nose through this entire book. I was reading Amy's diary like it was a horror novel. How terrifying that a marriage could dissolve so completely until the man who loved you can barely stand you. My opinions against Nick were being shaped right along with the public's opinion as they learned more about him. And just when I was certain Nick had done it, there is a momentous shift! And it's still almost a horror story, but now Nick is the victim of his sociopath wife
The ending: I wish I hadn't heard so much vague discussion of the ending before reading this book. I kept trying to guess what shocking and annoying plot twist Flynn was going to throw at me. So I had mixed feelings when I finally got to the end. A part of me had problems believing that Nick would stay with Amy after all that. She is crazy! She could kill him! She could ruin him! Why would you want a child growing up around her? It would be better to be free. But then I was also impressed by how well Flynn had set everything up. Amy is incredibly dangerous when you cross her. Working with her was the only way Nick could have a real relationship with his kid and actually live in peace. Flynn wrote once that all of Amy's barbs fit perfectly into all the wounds left by Nick's father. Amy's worse, of course, but both Nick and Amy are messed up in a way that only the other person really understands. In a way, they can't be with anyone else (although Amy really should be in jail). In fact, Nick was already playing a role before Amy disappeared. His entire life he's been acting in a way that tries to control others perceptions of him. Flynn wrote a painstaking, original novel. It would have been a disappointment if she'd ended it with something as mundane as the bad guy getting caught. This ending fit the rest of the story and was, in a disturbing way, a believable path for their characters to take.