This last year I caught all the buzz about Gillian Flynn's latest novel, Gone Girl. I'm not much of a "thriller" reader, but I was intrigued by the review I read, so I gave it a try. Admittedly, I got sucked into the story, because this really is a highly emotional story of possible murder and intrigue. However, a good read doesn't mean I liked it, and it's that part of my own response that almost prevented me from posting my thoughts. People online really came down on me pretty hard for DARING to admit that I didn't end up liking the book. Somehow that made me less of a reader from the hard core fans of the novel. Listen, I still think the book is really well written, but have every right to say that this was just "not my cup of tea." Why don't I brave the criticism and share my reasons, in the hope that I don't give the story away...
Marriage can be a real killer.
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?"
Review: The basic premise for the novel is the disappearance of the wife, Amy Dunne. As is the case in most crimes, the police look close to home for the answers in her disappearance. Was her marriage happy? Did she and her husband have a fight? Does the spouse show signs of distress or displeasure in their marriage or partner? The questions abound in a case like this. Flynn then takes the story line and bounces from chapter to chapter, between the present and the past. We see how Amy felt and the development and then slow decline of her marriage to Nick. Like and innocent lamb, we're led to believe and trust in the plot points we've been given, until WE are the slaughtered victim in the reading!
Things take a dramatic shift part way through the novel. You learn things about both Amy and Nick that make your head spin. As with all crime stories, is Nick completely at fault? Was there any outside involvement in her disappearance? Was Amy innocent in the story? All of these questions seem to go from a few predicted ideas to sometimes the opposite of what you expected. In that way, this story is masterfully crafted to send your head spinning! The story never feels predictable, and the characters are anything but cookie cutter. For that, I give Gillian Flynn high kudos, because I never knew what to expect or where we were going next.
Although the story is exciting and well-written, I found myself absolutely hating these characters. I know. I get it--willing suspension of belief. Listen, I don't need to see myself in every story that I read or expect characters to act of behave how I would, but these two were just not likable! I wanted to get why they did what they did, where the passion and anger came from, but I couldn't. I felt a little set up to hate Nick, and I definitely did. For me, there was no turning back there. In Amy's case, she just felt so completely unreliable as a character, that I started to not care about anything she did or if she was alive or dead. In short, these two crazies meant very little to me and I couldn't escape my own judgment of them; I hated them both, and I hated the way they treated one another (and others). So, by the end of the novel, my exclamations of, "What the...," were so often and frequent, that when it ended, I felt relief!
In some ways, I'm speechless where this novel is concerned. Great thriller and unpredictable read, but one that made me realize that you don't have to like them all. I definitely get the buzz and why people love it. This was not a predictable novel, and it is shocking and fascinating on so many levels; however, just from my own perspective, I really hated these two and their crazy choices. Plenty of you will disagree with me whole-heartedly, and I get that. Can we just agree to disagree? I get why you like it, and I agree that the story is good. I didn't like it, because I didn't like the characters. Enough said. If you haven't read it, you'll have to be the judge! And I promise that I won't judge your reaction to it!