Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn © 2012 Crown
I finally got around to this blockbuster. Not entirely sure what the fuss was all about. It’s a Coen Brothers story, selfish characters whose selfish schemes go awry. Amusing, some good twists, but kind of a downer overall.
Amy and Nick Dunne appear happily married. One day, Amy goes missing, an apparently tragic random abduction. Then, we gradually learn through Amy and Nick’s alternating POVs what really went on in their lives preceding the event. Not a happy marriage after all, and perhaps not a tragic random abduction.
Flynn’s device of unreliable narrators provided interesting reveals, but I didn’t like the story starting out like a whodunit. A whodunit lays the relevant facts before the reader, challenging the reader to pick up on what is significant. A whodunit does not hide the clues. A thriller or adventure may hide facts until they become revealed in the natural course of events, but Gone didn’t reveal surprises in the natural course, either. They came out as the author chose to provide them. Gone could be called innovative for not following the usual whodunit or thriller formulae, but I found the style more an effort in deception, which is easy, rather than storytelling, which is hard.
Amy and Nick are both bad guys, one worse than the other, and therefore the lesser bad guy was the “good guy.” Therefore, I wasn’t too invested in seeing the good guy come out on top. I was more invested in seeing the bad guy go down, but that investment never paid off. Neither of the main characters changed one bit from beginning to end.
I’ll grant you it was an entertaining plot. Amy and Nick’s elaborate sparring was fun to follow. And typically, I am a fan of ambiguous endings, which Gone had, but this type of story needed a more definite, emotionally satisfying, conclusion.
The plot was strong enough to make me want to see how it all turned out. For that reason, I call Gone Girl a success. It will stay on my shelf. It disappointed me for lack of a single character I could give a damn about.