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08 August 2012 @ 11:33 pm
Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn  
Happily ever after goes seriously wrong.


I remember years ago when the newspapers were lit up with a story of a murder in a town next door to mine. It was the first recorded murder in the small suburb in 15 years and would have been a pretty explosive story on its own even without the long time gap. A doctor had murdered his wife of several years while she had been out jogging early in the morning. In order to make it look like the work of a stranger, he’d lain in wait for her in a secluded area where he knew she always went through and stabbed her several times in the chest and throat. A well-respected, successful man in his field, people had been disturbed and flabbergasted by the brutality of the crime. His motive had been he’d wanted to leave his wife but wasn’t willing to go through a divorce that would have left him financially reduced.

The murder, as I said earlier, was pretty lurid in of itself. But what always disturbed me about the story most was that I couldn’t stop imagining how at one time, the couple had been happy and in love enough to get married; that at one point in their lives they’d looked at each and thought that this was the person with whom they were happily going to spend the rest of their lives. And somewhere along the road, he’d come to hate her so much he was willing to kill her in one of the most savage ways possible. What made the story creepy was that I never once thought of the doctor as psychotic in the classic, extraordinary sense. He sounded like an ordinary guy who ended up doing something completely psychotic.

The above story stayed with me in the back of my mind as I read Gillian Flynn’s superb third novel. Amy and Nick Dunne were the perfect couple. She, a born and bred Manhattanite from a wealthy intellectual family, he a small town Midwestern boy who’d made good in the big city as a journalist. Floating through life on Amy’s trust fund that’s marginally subsidized by the couple’s jobs as writers, the Dunnes were the kind of couple other couples envied for the seeming ease with which they settled into married life.

But things take a rapid decline after both Amy and Nick lose their jobs and then are hit financially when Amy’s trust fund is mostly revoked by her parents, lost in their own financial crisis. When Nick’s mother develops cancer, the couple uproot back to Nick’s hometown where Nick uses the remainder of Amy’s trust fund to buy a bar to run with his twin sister. The couple’s marriage deteriorate further as Nick starts to loathe returning home to the increasingly discontented, bitter Amy.

And then on their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy vanishes without a trace.

The novel, which is split between Amy’s diary entries that capture the start of their courtship through a few days before her disappearance and Nick’s point of view as he rapidly becomes the main suspect of his wife’s disappearance, is a compulsively readable novel. Flynn is amazing as she captures the kind of ugliness that lurks inside mostly average human beings. At one point in the story when most of the plot was revealed, I thought this book was going to turn into your run of the mill thriller. But Flynn’s marvelous characterizations save this story from being a simple story of revenge. It’s a story of how some psychotics are born but others are utterly made.

I highly recommend the novel as one of the best I’ve read in recent years. Share with friends! Just not with your significant others.

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kensiegkensieg on August 9th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
Interesting book, but I don't think I'll read it, it'd give me nightmares! The grass isn't greener.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 10th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's definitely not a pick-me-up sort of book.