On the surface, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl may not seem like a book The Unending Backlog would tackle—a thriller, but your Bombastic Backloggers are fans of well-written fiction, regardless of genre, so Flynn’s third outing makes the list in a walk.
Where Gone Girl succeeds most effectively is in Flynn’s use of the unreliable narrator to raise questions and build suspense. Early in the novel, we meet Nick Dunne, an affable, handsome golden boy who has returned to his Missouri hometown with his wealthy, beautiful wife Amy after they had both lost their big-time magazine-writing gigs in New York City to take care of his ailing mother and father, who are divorced. Nick is that guy, the one everyone loves, but, as readers, we learn that he has ruminated on the shape of his wife’s skull and was a bit put off by Amy’s attitude toward their move to the rural town of his youth, his old stomping grounds. But, hey, she’s a city-girl and the daughter of professional psychologists/authors who had earned a mint writing a series of children’s novels based on their only child—Amazing Amy.
So, when Amy disappears on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick immediately falls under suspicion—to absolutely no one’s, including the reader’s, surprise, especially when his easy smile and relaxed attitude make him appear unconcerned and disconnected. However, we’re in his head, and he seems like such a nice guy. Could he have done it?
Flynn makes us question our understanding of Nick as the novel progresses because we want to like the doofus, but the alternating chapters are narrated by Amy herself, in her diary entries that chronicle her relationship with Nick from their first meeting until the day of her disappearance. She really tries to be the wife he wants and needs but doesn’t feel appreciation for her efforts as Nick grows more gruff with and distant from her. She fears he could harm her, so what’s lurking behind that disarming grin and easygoing attitude the rest of the world sees?
Honestly, it’s fun watching Nick’s public persona come unraveled as the novel progresses, picking up steam with each earth-shattering revelation. I’m not going to lie: one of the reason I enjoy thrillers is the shock-factor. I was reading Gone Girl in an airport last week and audibly gasped as I turned a page about halfway through the novel. Good writing involves readers, and I was Flynn’s willing servant as I turned every page—and, consequently, told everyone I know that they had to read this book.
I’ve read that some people have taken issue with the ending, but I do not. I find it utterly effective—and more than a little chilling. Your mileage may vary, but the how’s and why’s of the conclusion make perfect sense to me.
Director David Fincher’s adaption of Gone Girl will hit theaters this November with an all-star cast led by Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne—a great choice! I’m eager to see if Fincher can capture the thrill-a-minute feel of the novel, but, with films like Seven, Fight Club, and Panic Room and the Netflix series House of Cards under his belt, he’s got this—no question.
10/10 – Read Gone Girl now, and see the movie in October.