On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick's wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately 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 aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?
The Book Report: The book description says:
Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.”Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On 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?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
My Review: I HATED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK FROM ITS SNARKTASTIC SMUG SNOTTY STRAIGHT PEOPLE TO ITS PLOT THAT MADE ME HOMICIDALLY FURIOUS.
I wish only the worst commercial luck for it, its movie, its author, its publisher, its publicist, its director, its producer, its screenwriter, and its legion of woman and crypto-woman fans.
By the time Nick Dunne provides us, his avid readers, with this insight into his character, we've already figured it out, thanks to Gillian Flynn's masterful ability to drop one twist after another into this chilling tale, in such as a way to cause a kind of literary double take of such magnitude that if it were a physical response, I'd by now be hospitalized with whiplash.
This is certainly the best thriller I'll read this year, and possibly this decade -- and I don't say that lightly. Flynn took me on a hair-raising journey, the equivalent of speeding along a slick, twisting highway at night, with not even a railing separating the car from a plunge down a cliff and into the ocean -- and I simply couldn't put the novel down. Every time I thought I had figured out where she was taking me -- and at what point this novel would relapse into classic "thriller mode", with a relatively predictable denouement -- she proved me wrong. Better yet, she made each twist completely convincing.
The novel itself is the saga of an unraveling marriage that climaxes in the disappearance of Amy Elliott Dunne, Nick's wife, on their fifth wedding anniversary. It's an ironic nod of sorts to so many true-life tragedies (there's even a vitriolic Nancy Grace-style television commentator!), but also a deep dive into a kind of toxic relationship that had me thinking three or four times about every individual I've come into contact with. Amy is the photo-perfect victim: blond, beautiful, the model for her parents' best-selling series of children's books featuring "Amazing Amy". But just how amazing is Amy? Well, fairly -- if perhaps not in the sense that we are used to viewing our "victims". The slow and gradual revelation of the layers of this story is tantalizing; the nature of what is revealed is chilling. And the real climax of the book is quite possibly the best I've read in any thriller -- Flynn shuns any thought of the "easy out" when looking for a conclusion, and the final pages left me gasping in astonishment at her imagination and the effortless way she holds all the strands of this narrative together -- and at the plot itself. If this isn't turned into a blockbuster movie, Hollywood execs should be lined up against a wall and shot.
On holiday and it's raining, or too hot to go outside? Grab this, and you'll forget about your sunburn, your heatstroke, the mosquito bites and pretty much anything else. On the other hand, it will make you re-evaluate everything your spouse says and does for days and quite possibly weeks... It's not literature, but it's the epitome of a "thumping good read", and you should stop reading this review now and just go get it -- bookstore, library or just purloin your friend's copy before he/she has finished. 4.5 stars, rounded up.
Full disclosure: I got an advance reading copy of this book via NetGalley.
Oh, also, there were some really pretty lines, particularly in the beginning.
But seriously. You take every terrible, pathetic, and despicable thing about the human race and put it into the book and... seriously, all of them dead! If I pretend that The Stand is the sequel to this book, I start to feel a little bit better about it.
There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold."
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn isn't high literature, but it has its approaching moments. A familiar premise gets torqued: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, neither boy nor girl seem to be who we thought they were, and there is something horribly, horribly wrong.
Some facts are reliable: Married Nick and Amy are both ex-magazine writers who lived in NYC and whose jobs were undone by the slicing and dicing impact of the Internet. Unfortunate family events in Nick's hometown Missouri cause them to move back. Nick operates a bar with his sister Go (Margo) and Amy . . . flounders, away from New York. Then she goes missing and Nick starts looking suspicious. What happened? Is she dead? Is he responsible? Is something else entirely going on? Readers all over the country are flying through the pages of this book, mesmerized by Nick and Amy, and desperate to find out the true story. After more twists than I remember seeing before in a book, the reader does find out. But wait, there's more. And it may not be Mrs. Bates turning around in a rocking chair, but if you're like me, the ending will run a chill right up your spine.
Reading this taunt, darkly, wicked tale, is like touring a funhouse. There may not be any monsters leaping out like banshees (another lie perhaps?) but there are plenty of shadowy corridors, twisting down deceptive passages and as the reader takes each shuddering step, there is a niggling fear that the floor beneath you will collapse at any moment.
Flynn is the real deal. She has crafted a top-notch psychological thriller. Read it, but first make sure you pay the creepy fat guy at the door.
The writing is stark and the staccato style that Flynn adopts is so effective in setting the tempo for a suspense thriller for the ages. But here’s the problem with reviewing this book: there’s very little I can say about it that won’t give away, well, everything. This is a book of surprises, one after another. A psychological thriller that had my head spinning throughout its 400+ pages and the author tantalizingly keeps you guessing right up until the last sentence. And even then, I wasn’t absolutely sure what would happen to these two after the book was back on the shelf.
But it’s the crisp, addictive writing, again and again, that had me furiously turning pages. Nick writes:
”The two detectives entered with end-of-shift weariness. The man was rangy and thin, with a face that tapered severely into a dribble of a chin. The woman was surprisingly ugly---brazenly, beyond the scope of everyday ugly: tiny round eyes set tight as buttons, a long twist of a nose, skin spackled with tiny bumps, long lank hair the color of a dust bunny. I have an affinity for ugly women. I was raised by a trio of women who were hard on the eyes---my grandmother, my mom, her sister---and they were all smart and kind and funny and sturdy, good, good women. Amy was the first pretty girl I ever dated, really dated.” (Page 33)
Her characterizations of the two protagonists are incredibly clever and cunning. She carefully crafts their characteristics and just when you think you have them pegged, she throws out something new. Think you know them? Think again. And the plot just twists and turns and takes a sharp right then, just as abruptly, heads in the opposite direction, the tension building until you have to stop and catch your breath. Unputdownable? Oh yes. Definitely. Highly recommended for thrill seekers.
The story of two rather unlikeable people starts out with the reader having full sympathy for one of the characters but slowly as things are revealed, the perspective changes. Then the second half of the book opens with confessions that knock the reader sideways and reveal psychological flaws that show a depth of darkness that one doesn’t find very often portrayed so cleverly.
This is my first book by author Gillian Flynn but she is definitely an author whose books I want to explore. Gone Girl, with it’s surprising twists and turns kept me glued to its’ pages and it’s been quite some time since I stayed up all night just to finish a book. I applaud the author for how she ended the story, I expected something quite different, but when I think about it, leaving this toxic combination to continue to simmer along gives the book a provoking and terrifying conclusion.
As this was my third Flynn novel, I knew to doubt what the narrators told me, knew to expect the unexpected and that I would probably not like the main characters. A wise stance given how the story went. All through Amy’s initial journal entries I kept waiting for the real Amy to show up. When she did though, she blew me away with her vicious and conniving cruelty. In just about every entry where she blows her own horn at her cleverness, insightfulness or ability to plan ahead, I was rocked back on my heels at her audacity. Now I’ve had some weeks to digest it, I think Flynn deliberately created Nick’s character as fairly innocuous. He never came across as anyone so vile, so deliberately mean as Amy made out. Thoughtless, possibly. Selfish, definitely. But to set him up for your supposed murder? To do everything in your power to ensure a death penalty or at least life in prison? Nah, I didn’t see he deserved that and that served to make Amy seem all the more deranged. It wasn’t over-the-top, though and I really appreciate Flynn’s subtlety.
I also like her depiction of the media in this story. She’s skewered them in the past, notably in her sophomore effort Dark Places, but in this one she goes for the juggler. Too much of our justice system is perverted by media, especially now in the 500-channel, 24-hour news, internet world. Opinions, decisions, judgements and assumptions are all made before so much as a single prosecutor steps into a courtroom. Various talking heads and “pundits” take up their assigned positions regardless of truth, circumstances or actual evidence. As a result, Nick swings from definite wife-murderer to framed hero and back again within hours. Of course, this is exactly what Amy counted on and when it didn’t happen quite fast enough, she made some anonymous calls to get the ball rolling.
The interlude where she hides out in the cabin/resort is really interesting from a character and emotional hook-development point of view. Up to that time I’d been waiting for Nick’s other shoe to drop; when he finally would admit to some grievous injury against Amy and make her scheme something I’d want to do myself. When it didn’t happen and her situation with regard to her new “friends” became more and more precarious, I started to swing the other way, and when they robbed her I was pretty darn glad. I hoped that she’d have to come back or eat crow or something, but forgot about her old boyfriend. She chews him up and spits him out, doesn’t she? Poor sap, he liked it the first time around.
Interspersed with her maniacal gloating is Nick’s story of trying to convince the cops of his innocence and his dig into Amy’s past. That second chat with her childhood friend was pretty chilling. As was the chat with her other boyfriend and ‘rapist’. What a twisted little deviant she turned out to be, and all the while masquerading as Cool Girl (which is a brilliant concept, btw). If Amy’s own poor-poor-pitiful me schtick as described by her in her journal wasn’t enough, these tales of the budding sociopath definitely did the trick.
The ending was perfect for our dream couple even if it left me as a reader somewhat baffled. I guess I’m too normal, sane and possessed of a vertebral column. Try as he might, Nick was pinned. Pinned like a butterfly to a board. While he was grubbing around, trying to find leverage I remembered the failed fertility fiasco and knew he’d never win. Never. The thought of them spending the rest of their miserable lives circling each other, teeth bared, like rabid dogs is chilling. Often Stephen King writes of the interior of marriage, but never has he made it so sick, so defective and; so unhinged. Brilliant.
A highly irritating manipulative and ultimately unbelievable and unsatisfying book. I knew all along her diary was made up; I knew all along she wasn't dead; but the character that emerged from all of this hokem was totally unbelievable. Flynn just made up her idea of what a sociopath would be.
I really wish I hadn't wasted all that time reading it - and no, it was no page-turner.
On the other hand, it’s popular for a reason. Flynn takes the voice and perspective of the husband and the wife in alternating chapters, and does so effectively. It’s a page-turner. And through the distorted lens of this extreme duo, Flynn trots out the dirty, unspoken truths present in a lot of relationships, and the subtle and not-so subtle ways in which we might deceive, from being over-accommodating while dating, to not communicating later on, and to adultery. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure, but I liked it for that, more than for the plot twists and turns.
“Love makes you want to be a better man – right, right. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are.”
On the Midwest:
“For so many years, my husband has lauded the emotional solidity of midwesterners: stoic, humble, without affectation! But these aren’t the kinds of people who provide good memoir material. Imagine the jacket copy: People behaved mostly well and then they died.”
“I go on dates with men who are nice and good-looking and smart – perfect-on-paper men who make me feel like I’m in a foreign land, trying to explain myself, trying to make myself known. Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?”
“People want to believe they know other people. Parents want to believe they know their kids. Wives want to believe they know their husbands.”
“I should add, in Amy’s defense, that she’d asked me twice if I wanted to talk, if I was sure I wanted to do this. I sometimes leave out details like that. It’s more convenient for me. In truth, I wanted her to read my mind so I didn’t have to stoop to the womanly art of articulation. I was sometimes as guilty of playing the figure-me-out game as Amy was. “
“Nick and I fit together. I am a little too much, and he is a little too little. I am a thornbush, bristling from the overattention of my parents, and he is a man of a million little fatherly stab wounds, and my thorns fit perfectly into them.”
“…believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: ‘I like strong women.’ If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because ‘I like strong women’ is code for ‘I hate strong women.’)”
“Nick loved me. A six-o kind of love: he looooooved me. But he didn’t love me, me. Nick loved a girl who doesn’t exist. I was pretending, the way I often did, pretending to have a personality. I can’t help it, it’s what I’ve always done: The way some women change fashion regularly, I change personalities. What persona feels good, what’s coveted, what’s au courant? I think most people do this, they just don’t admit it, or else they settle on one persona because they’re too lazy or stupid to pull off a switch.”
“I hated him for not knowing it had to end, for truly believing he had married this creature, this figment of the imagination of a million masturbatory men, semen-fingered and self-satisfied. He truly seemed astonished when I asked him to listen to me. He couldn’t believe I didn’t love wax-stripping my pussy raw and blowing him on request. That I did mind when he didn’t show up for drinks with my friends. … Again, I don’t get it: If you let a man cancel plans or decline to do things for you, you lose. You don’t always get what you want. It’s pretty clear. Sure, he may be happy, he may say you’re the coolest girl ever, but he’s saying it because he got his way. He’s calling you the Cool Girl to fool you!”
On loneliness in marriage; this one so sad and pathetic:
“We watched TV silently on our two sofa cushions, as separate as if they were life rafts. In bed, she turned away from me, pushed blankets and sheets between us. I once woke up in the night and, knowing she was asleep, pulled aside her halter strap a bit, and pressed my cheek and palm against her bare shoulder. I couldn’t get back to sleep that night, I was so disgusted with myself. I got out of bed and masturbated in the shower, picturing Amy, the lusty way she used to look at me, those heavy-lidded moonrise eyes taking me in, making me feel seen. When I was done, I sat down in the bathtub and stared at the drain through the spray. My penis lay pathetically along my left thigh, like some small animal washed ashore. I sat at the bottom of the bathtub, humiliated, trying not to cry.”
This is more of a psychological thriller as opposed to an edge-of-your-seat action-packed one. The basic plotline: wife disappears on her 5-year wedding anniversary. Is she dead or alive? Is the husband involved or isn't he? The interesting thing about the narration is each chapter alternates in the first person point of view -- his and hers, primarily with his generally in the present-day, and hers written in diary form over the previous 5 years. You would think that written in the first person, the reader should be able to get a general feeling as to whether the husband (Nick) had something to do with the disappearance. But that's just it. The reader really can't tell. One minute you're reading & thinking one thing, but then you turn the page & your thoughts travel elsewhere.
Both of these characters will keep you guessing. The plotline will keep you guessing. And even when you think you've figured most things out, something bizarre & unexpected will occur, forcing you to revise your thinking yet again. This novel is not flawless, but it's refreshing & different & thoroughly enjoyable. The ending was not what I expected, and I like endings like that, but in this case it was primarily the only reason I didn't rate this book a full 5-star. I thought it could have been written a little more satisfyingly & still been unpredictable.
“The truth is malleable; you just need to pick the right expert.”
Nick and Amy Dunne are on the cusp of celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing. By all appearances, she has been abducted from their home, where there are signs of a struggle. A lot of blood has been spilled, too, and police investigation reveals it to be Amy’s. Nick, of course, is immediately suspected to be the perpetrator.
Gone Girl catapults into action, and it becomes clear very quickly that appearances count for the little where the Dunnes are concerned. Their marriage is a disaster – the players infinitely cunning, shrewd, and manipulative. As the narrative bats back and forth between Nick and Amy, what unfolds is a layered tale of treachery, betrayal, deception, and fraud. I would just think to have figured out which was the victim and which the sociopath, and then … well, that matter of appearances would rear its head again.
Flynn skillfully creates edge-of-your-seat suspense in this fast-paced, psychological thriller, and ensures that Gone Girl is worth the hype. The audiobook very effectively engages a male and a female narrator, and both of them are superb. Highly recommended.
There's no-one to root for, really. Gillian Flynn switches between two narrators, a 30-something married couple. Both are mostly unlikeable and wholly unreliable. Amy is a Manhattan trust fund kid resentfully slumming it in Missouri. Nick is the sort of handsome, oblivious guy a lot of chicks dig these days. Then Amy disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary and Nick (and the reader) follow a trail peppered with clues - and more than a few red herrings - to find out what really happened to her.
Flynn is a clever writer, in two ways. First and foremost, her plotting is smart enough to keep even the sharpest armchair sleuth guessing. But her writing also, at times, tips over into smugness. It reminded me of the precocious, self-satisfied expression of an expensively educated teenager - aren't I just so cool and clever. This novel is so hip that it probably won't date very well. But for now, as a reflection on marriage, media and the criminal justice system in early 21st century America, Gone Girl resonates.
The book is narrated from alternating points of view. In the first part, comprising half of the book, Nick narrates events as they occur in present-time, beginning with their fifth anniversary, and Amy’s point of view is presented via her diary which begins with their first meeting. (There are slight changes in Parts 2 and 3, but to explain would give too much away.)
The two tell very different stories; very soon the reader begins to question who is telling the truth. For example, discussing their first wedding anniversary, Nick says, “Amy presented me with a set of posh stationery, my initials embossed at the top, the paper so creamy I expected my fingers to come away moist. . . . Neither of us liked our presents” (20). Amy’s version is the opposite; she writes about giving him “the monogrammed stationery he’s been wanting from Crane & Co. with the clean sans-serif font sent in hunter green, on the thick creamy stock that will hold lush ink” (41). Are they just a couple who do not know each other very well or are they being selective in their retelling? Nick admits to being “a big fan of the lie of omission” (133) and even says, “It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting” (37). Amy, on the other hand, is just too good to be true; she refuses “to turn into some pert-mouthed, strident angry girl” (65) even when Nick goes drinking with coworkers on their third anniversary. She tells Nick, “’My money is your money’” (68) but writes, “Those jobless men will proclaim Nick a great guy as he buys their drinks on a credit card linked to my bank account” (66). Obviously neither is a reliable narrator. As a consequence, the reader is manipulated into choosing sides and then constantly reconsidering. At times sympathy might rest with Nick but then allegiance will shift to Amy.
Neither character is likeable. Both are selfish and immature, and this may cause problems for readers who require a likeable character. I quite enjoyed how the characters are gradually stripped of all their pretenses as we get to the truth. Of course there are a lot of twists and turns along the way to the truth, but I love roller coaster rides.
I have two problems with the book. One is the portrayal of the police investigating the case. In many ways they are stereotypes of close-minded, bumbling police officers. At one point, Nick’s lawyer says, “’The bigger the lie, the more they believe it’” (390). My other problem is the third part, the last 50 pages. I found it contrived and so unsatisfying, although I’ll admit that perhaps it’s the only possible ending.
Anyone who loves a psychological thriller with fully developed characters, and a character-driven, intricate, unpredictable, suspenseful plot should definitely give this book a try. I will certainly be seeking out Flynn’s other two books.
Nick's wife of five years, Amy, is missing on their fifth anniversary. Nick gets a call from a neighbor that his front door is wide open and the cat is sitting on the front stoop. Nick rushes home to find signs of a struggle in the living room. He calls the police.
The has alternating chapters. The first is Nick in the present, dealing with the disappearance of Amy. The second is from Amy's point of view and starts with her meeting Nick at a party. Each alterate chapter is Nick in the present and going forward and Amy in the past leading up to the day of the disappearance.
Quite frankly, none of the characters, Nick, Amy, Nick's twin sister Go, Amy's parents are characters you like...not a one. So, if you get to the point that you don't care what happened (I did), why read further (I didn't).
Pass this one up.
The bad news, however, is that, despite being a novel that so consciously flips the standard "wife killer" suspense thriller paradigm on its head, Gone Girl ultimately ends up falling into the same genre tropes it rails against, especially in its second act. What makes Amy such an attractive villain in the first half of the book is that she seems to have a legitimate complaint against Nick and the male oppression she's suffered, and she, unlike so many others, is actually doing something about it, and something entirely uncompromising. Yet when she starts to trip up in the second half of the book, she turns back into the demure, helpless "standard female character" that she so consciously refuses to be earlier on: she is easily overpowered by a couple strangers, she no longer even considers retaliating or taking revenge on them later, and instead she simply runs into the arms of the nearest man who can provide for her (and who, as it happens, turns out to be a psycho rapist). The really disturbing part, however, is that what the reader is supposed to feel through all this is, it seems, some sort of schadenfreude, some sort of sick pleasure is discovering that Amy is just as weak as the sexist female stereotype she initially opposed. We are supposed to delight in her assault, her downfall, her rape. And that is, simply put, not okay.
Gone Girl, for the most part, is a novel about playing with our expectations, about shaking us out of the standard voyeurism trafficked in by so much pulp fiction. So when it ends up glorifying that very same voyeurism and asking us to participate in it halfway through, this should give us pause. But maybe I'm overthinking things. Maybe Gone Girl should be treated as a beach read and nothing more -- and in that respect at least, it's really quite good.
Two things about this novel. 1) I couldn't stop listening to the audio version narrated by two readers who alternate between Nick's and Amy's first person accounts, and finished it in two days. 1.5) I hated this story because 2) These people really do exist in real life, only they don't necessarily resort to psychotic behaviour... or at least, not on that scale. I've got to hand it to Gillian Flynn for being an amazing storyteller. She builds up the various elements of this thriller in a way that has the reader constantly on the edge of the seat and makes two truly despicable characters absolutely fascinating case studies of the state of matrimony in the 21st century. For those of us who aren't married, this novel is like a warning signal not to believe it when someone seems to be too good to be true, because they inevitably are; having done the rounds of the dating scene in a big city, I can personally vouch for that.
Yes, you have the perfect couple that every couple wants to be (at least as it appears to outsiders): Nick and Amy Dunne, who have transplanted themselves from the cultural and social megalopolis of Manhattan to drab and dreary small town Missouri because both have lost their exotic jobs as professional writers. On the morning of the couple's 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing from their small-town house, and Nick goes ... evasive. It was interesting to plow through the first part and try to unravel the psychological complexities of Nick Dunne - made all the more brilliant because the story is told in the first person from his POV - while meandering through the flat, two-dimensional Amy, whose life with Nick up to the day of the disappearance is told through a series of journal entries. I applaud Flynn's ability to make Nick a mystery in the story of his wife's disappearance, when he is telling the story.
And then you get to Part Two, where, yes, the POVs now switch back and forth between Nick and Amy, and again, I applaud Flynn because the flat, two-dimensional Amy of the diary entries in Part One becomes a richer and more complex character, while Nick becomes flat ... and two-dimensional. That is the true genius I walked away with: somebody who appears psychologically complicated is not, and somebody who appears psychologically simple is not. Flynn's ability to unravel these two characters is, in a word, astounding.
Did I like either of these characters? Not particularly. But that doesn't mean they weren't a fascinating read, especially from that psychological perspective. And I will admit, the slow unveiling of the story behind Amy's disappearance: when, how, and why, kept me turning the pages. As completely demented as everything was in this book, I wanted to find out what happened. And I take that as a good thing. Because, to me, that means this was a brilliantly crafted novel, even if I hope I never meet anyone like Nick or Amy Dunne in real life.