Rater of the Lost Art: Gone Girl Book Review
by Laura Mooney, Arts Editor
Picture the scene: a small town in Missouri is rattled when the news hits that one of their own local residents has mysteriously gone missing one cold, foggy fall morning. Amy Dunne is a gorgeous New Yorker, currently living in the redneck town of North Carthage with her wannabe writer husband, Nick. Amy is discovered to have gone missing when Nick comes home one night after work, only to find broken windows and overturned furniture; a clear sign of a struggle. However, as the police get involved, they begin to suspect that Nick may be the one who made Amy disappear, as all the evidence that begins to surface clearly points to him. The story follows Nick’s struggle as he fights to clear his name, all while trying to handle being in the media’s glaring spotlight, and trying to find his wife at the same time.
While the basic idea of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a seemingly predictable murder mystery, the style in which the story is written is anything but typical. The story is told through two voices, both Amy’s and Nick’s, with Nick’s segment taking place in the present, and Amy’s side told through past diary entries. As the reader begins to learn about each character, Nick comes across at first as the distressed husband, clearly uncomfortable with the fact that the police are swarming his house and tracking every move he makes, and concerned about the whereabouts of Amy. But as we learn more about Nick, from both his recounting of the events after Amy’s disappearance and from Amy’s diary entries, the reader comes to realize that Nick is not the caring and concerned husband he first appeared to be, he is not even a decent human being. As more and more secrets Nick has been hiding come out, the reader begins to question whether he really is innocent, and begins to believe that Nick Dunne really did kill his wife.
Flynn’s use of non-linear storylines and unreliable narrators gives the reader the feeling of having to figure out the mystery for themselves, as though they were working along with the police trying to solve the case. Not many novels is the past few years have succeeded as well as Gone Girl has in regards to creating a story that is engaging to a wide variety of readers while still maintaining an intelligence not often found in popular literature these days. Flynn takes the reader down twists and turns, forcing the reader to question what the protagonist has been telling them throughout this strange tale. Flynn has a habit of often leading the readers down one path, then introducing a single fact that changes the reader’s entire perception of what they have read up until that point. As if this was not enough though, Flynn includes a twist ending so shocking it will make the reader want to go back and read the whole story again from the start.
Beyond the main story, however, lies a deeper examination of the psychology involved in long- term relationships and what can happen when the basic structures necessary in a relationship fall apart. The story delves into common problems that occur with couples who have been together for a long time, such as lack of communication, trust issues, and even what happens when you lose yourself in the relationship. Of course, Flynn examines these topics within the context of an extreme situation, but the problems she addresses are themes that nearly every couple has had to deal with at some point. This brings the novel to a more relatable and human level, and explores these typical relationship issues from both the male and female points of view. Instead of just being a story about a murder, the author makes you feel sympathy for Nick and Amy by showing what they both had to deal with in the relationship. Depending on whose side of the story you relate to more, most readers would sympathize with one or the other.
Flynn’s Gone Girl is a wonderfully crafted thriller that has received raving reviews and was number one on the New York Times’ best seller’s list for eight weeks, and was claimed to be the literary phenomenon of 2012. If you are looking for an excellent read full of mystery and suspense, it is highly recommended that you pick up a copy of Gone Girl and experience the wonderful twists and turns of the novel for yourself. The twist ending alone will be enough to convince you that you have made a great choice in picking up this book.