In the first few pages of Gillian Flynn's new novel Gone Girl, I was thinking, "This is it -- one of those rare novels that's unique and totally engrossing, cleverly plotted so that each new development has me astounded and eager to find out what happens next." Then the story continued as Midwestern husband Nick began to deal with his wife Amy's sudden disappearance and some gradually revealed details that might cast doubt on his own innocence in the matter. During that time, the book dropped down from the level of extraordinary to merely somewhat intriguing. However, once I reached Part Two of Gone Girl ("Boy Meets Girl"), it was like Ms Flynn kicked it up a notch, and the book became amazing again. Without giving any spoilers, Part Two unveils some major plot twists that cast Amy's status in an entirely new light. From that point on, the story moves along in powder keg fashion: the fuse has been lit, and it's only a question of how long 'til the explosion, and how much damage will be done when it happens. Flynn has a distinctive writing style that really involved me in what was going on with her two main characters. I had previously purchased but not yet read her Dark Places (after several recommendations). Now I will have to read it, and also get her first book, Sharp Objects. Only one warning, though: Gone Girl contains a fair amount of foul language. This was not a problem for me, but it might be for some readers.
on July 21, 2012
Does the ending of this book leave you a) wishing you hadn't read it in the first place; b) asking, "where's the resolution?" c) feeling thoroughly unsatisfied; or d) all of the above. Answer: d
Think of a life experience you've had that started great only to bomb out at the end. Like a promising date that was going really well--only to be ruined by a nasty argument at the end of the evening. You go to bed feeling empty, unfulfilled. That's what reading this novel was like for me. Starts great, quickly becomes a can't-put-it-down page turner, then completely fizzles at the end, leaving you unsatisfied with the novel's lack of resolution.
That said, I agree with most of the positive comments about the book: "Fiendishly clever," "Totally engrossing," Gripping and addictive." "Well-plotted," etc. Does Gillian Flynn have excellent writing chops? Does she masterfully develop psychologically complex, multidimensional characters? Present penetrating insights into the nature of modern marriage and relationships? Write pitch-perfect dialog? Absolutely. She just needs to learn how to finish. Develop resolution.
One thing Flynn might want to learn to use to her advantage in future novels is the "recency effect," which simply states that the last thing you see or experience in a given situation or event is more accessible in your memory, and therefore more likely to be remembered by you then those things that occurred in the beginning or middle of the experience. Given the novel's lack of resolution and totally unsatisfying ending, the last thing I remember about the book is my feeling of utter disappointment.
on August 25, 2013
Amy and Nick are married for five years, but there is not much harmony left. All of a sudden, Amy is missing. And from there, a more and more surprising and devious plot develops, cleverly and elegantly put together by a very talented writer.
It is difficult to talk about the plot without risking spoilers. So let's say this: It is not a conventional thriller. There are twists and totally surprising developments, we are getting manipulated and are lied to by both protagonists. It's not only a thriller, the book is also about unconventional truths about love and marriage. Sadly, the ending is a disappointment. Best not to expect too much from it and just enjoy the reading of the novel as such.
The book is always straightforward and readable, but maybe there are a few digressions too many. I can't help but feeling that nowadays thriller writers feel the need to expand their books to 600 pages when 400 would have done just as well. That's stupid, because it automatically weakens the suspense.
Gillian Flynn really deconstructed love and marriage here a lot, so I have a suggestion for readers who would like to read a (shorter) crime novel which is thrilling, full of dark humor and lets you believe in love again: Heads Off (A Lisa Becker Mystery).
on June 11, 2012
I was totally engrossed in this book in the beginning. I liked the way the story was told from both Amy and Nick's perspectives; it made it difficult to know what was really going on because I wasn't sure who to believe. In Part 2 several surprises are revealed that make the story even more engaging...until it isn't. Towards the end of Part 2 the twists and turns stopped being intriguing and just seemed over the top. The characters stopped being flawed and interesting and instead just seemed incredibly unlikeable. And the ending is just terrible. I cannot stress enough how much I hated the ending. I have never read a book before that took me from not being able to put it down to wanting to punch someone in the face out of frustration. So my advice is this: if you really want to read this book, check it out at the library. Don't do what I did and pay the Kindle price!
on June 24, 2012
I kept reading through all the drawn-out, detailed story for the sole purpose of seeing how justice is dealt. The ending is simply ridiculous because it does not match anything that the story leads up to. This poorly thought-out ending ruined anything I did like about this book.
on July 3, 2012
I wish I had read more of the one star reviews before I wasted my money on this book. The first part of it sounds like a teenage diary, except the female character is in her 30's. The middle started to pick up, and then started to be beyond belief. The ending made me feel like I needed to take a shower for some reason. It was awful, and makes me wonder about this author in several ways, none of them very good.
on June 20, 2012
I don't like spoilers in reviews so won't include one here, but the ending of this book is so bad I can't believe it was ever published. I had mixed feelings about the book -- somewhat clever, somewhat annoying -- but I stuck with it thinking the author would find a great way to wind it up. Instead we get . . . you've got to be kidding me.
on July 6, 2012
I am still angry that I wasted my time and money on this ridiculous book. Seems like a good plot at the beginning, but soon you find yourself saying over and over again "What?", "No Way!". Totally unbelievable. I kept reading thinking the author must have a really clever way of wrapping up all the insanity. There was no wrap up, there was no ending. All the hateful characters and plot lines just stop. In the author's acknowledgements she writes that she got stuck when the book was 82% completed, and her editor had to help her finish it. She should have just stopped at 82%. I wish there was a way to demand my money back after feeling totally manipulated and ripped off. Don't buy this book!
on June 11, 2012
Gillian Flynn is a very talented writer. Her potential shows in each of her three novels. I loved Sharp Objects. I was not wild about Dark Places as a matter of personal preference, not because of any lack of writing talent as much as that I did not feel drawn to the characters, but I respect the work. I am disappointed in Gone Girl. Ms. Flynn has a clear talent for sharp and often witty prose, as well as a very vivid imagination. With Gone Girl, however, I felt she tried a bit too hard. The novel is divided into three sections. Section One introduces the main plot, and juxtaposes the two protagonists in back-to-back tellings of their respective versions of events, alternating one chapter for each. I found this a very effective tool to introduce some confusion and doubt regarding who exactly to believe, as well as some insight into how we all can miscommunicate with each other. His story, Her story, and the Truth. The Second section takes a radical turn, increasing the tension developed in the First section even more. A very neat trick, very inventive. The overreaching, in my opinion, begins to occur in the Third section. Plot lines become stretched, and the characters start to feel made up rather than real; the whole thing begins to feel unbelievable. The final summation of the book takes a new twist past the plot line itself and into the psychology of relationships, and this is where I felt the novel really fell apart. I had the feeling Ms. Flynn, a gifted writer, had run into a serious case of writer's block somewhere about two-thirds into this novel, and just began to punt. She seemed to try to outdo herself with twists and turns that began to lack a sense of authenticity. Inventiveness turned into contrivance. The issues that shaped Sections One and Two suddenly were resolved, and there began a departure into something new, but I did not feel satisfied that the mysteries presented in Sections One and Two had been satisfactorily concluded as much as forced to ending. My advise to Ms. Flynn for (hopefully) some future novel, if I could offer my advise, would be to keep it simple and not try to be clever and overreach with incessant twists and sudden jumps into new terrain. Better to finish one story well than to over-complicate with too much novelty.
I can not say I disliked this book. The first two sections kept me coming back for more. I wish it had stayed on course the entire time instead of veering into new waters at the end.
************************** WARNING - SPOILER ALERT **************************
The alternating voices of Nick and Amy really kept me guessing as to who was telling the more reliable version of the truth through the entire first section.
The opening paragraphs of the second section stunned me, and I found myself rereading them a few times to make sure I was getting it right. Having Adorable Amy transform into Psycho Amy this way was a shocker, and added energy to the story.
Disbelief began in the third section with Amy's return. The mystery element was now gone. We had been told all through section two that Amy had invented the entire frame-up, but this still left room for a sudden twist to occur where, we might have been told, it wasn't that at all, it REALLY was something ELSE, had Ms. Flynn chosen to take that path. But she didn't. Instead, we were presented with the necessary, and forced, pseudo-reconciliation between Nick and Amy. We were not informed of any police work into the truthfulness of Amy's story. Apparently the police were too embarrassed to do any further work after falsely accusing Nick in sections one and two. Not very believable. For all the work put into constructing the frame-up in the first two sections, there was almost no work put into making Amy's story seem really believable both to the cops and to the public. Everyone just seemed to accept her word at face value, period end. The descent into the psychology of dysfunction in relationships at the conclusion of this third section would have been better suited for a new, different novel, than as the ending of this one. There was just too much ground to cover, psychologically speaking, and considering the level of dysfunction being as high as it was (read: psychopathic) to simply brush it all to perfection in a final rushed section. I found this ending the most disappointing part of the book, not for its theme of dysfunction, but because it simply did not belong here in this book, much less as its resolution and conclusion. I felt a real lack of closure when I had finished. A strong storyline had been abandoned, and a premise for a new and complex discussion of relationships and human nature was not given its due.
on July 28, 2012
In reading Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, I was struck by several things. This book began clearly, as a whodunit, and ended as a descent into madness, for virtually all of the characters. It was uneven for this reason and didn't appear to ever get into a smooth rhythm. It was also a book of pure hate, not the least of which is a long series of characters (not all of them men) who are both obvious and subtle misogynists.
The two main characters, Nick and Amy, married five years, are about to celebrate their fifth anniversary when Amy disappears. It seems, for this first part of the book, that Nick may have had something to do with it.
However, at about 1/3 of the way through, we begin to see who Amy really is, and who Nick really is as well. These two are the most self-aggrandizing, vitriolic, hate-spewing people on the planet. Amy is ridiculous. Nobody, including her child-psychologist parents, seems to have any idea that she displays clear signs of sociopathy. People seem to "hurt themselves" around her all the time, but they just want to be her or be loved by her, or so Amy says, and her parents buy it every time. They are the few characters who aren't painted as hating women, but they certainly seem to care less for their child than the books they write about her life and make a living from.
Aside from this, both Amy and Nick seem to think all women are either smart, but nasty bitches or just flat-out dumb. There was some clear indication that the author, a Midwesterner, seems to find the stereotype about New Yorkers thinking Midwesterners are dumb rubes to be true.
I didn't care much for this story. It was too frustrating to read about innocent characters getting framed or hurt over and over, and the ending was absurd.
I did think the concept was interesting, but the execution was unpleasant and not at all fun to read. I would not recommend this book.