B.I.T.S: “Gone Girl” – Gillian Flynn

gone-girlVery well-written,

leaves you feeling unresolved,

tough to recommend.

There’s a quick summary of what I’ve got to say about Gone Girl, just in case anybody finds book reviews boring.

I heard a lot of buzz around this book shortly after it was released, but it quickly fell off my radar until the last few months when I saw David Fincher was directing the film adaptation. As Fincher has quite a prolific track record of incredibly dark yet thought-provoking films (Fight ClubSe7en, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, just to name a few), my interest in the book perked up enough to add it to my list this year.

Very briefly (and without giving anything away), this is the story of the disappearance of Amy, who has been experiencing recent marital struggles with her husband Nick. Explaining more of the plot would be giving away too much.

And for that reason, the book hooked me right off. I was finished with it in two days, and that is a tribute to how perfectly-constructed the story is. Flynn paints this beautiful and truly depressing picture of a disintegrating marriage, a marriage involving two people at odds with each other. Both are out to “win,” or at least not be defeated by the other. This is a marriage based on competition.

The reader is presented with two narrative arcs, from the perspective of Nick (during and after Amy’s disappearance) and of Amy (diary entries from years leading up to her disappearance). The interplay between the two conflicting views sheds so much light on this broken relationship, and it’s pretty grim. Your allegiance is tossed back and forth between both parties; first you’re on Nick’s side, then you can’t believe he shut Amy out in this way, then you think she should’ve handled that conflict differently, etc. Both characters have real issues and you can relate to both. Flynn creates a palpable tension into which, as the reader, you can’t help but find yourself quickly mired.

And then you hit the halfway mark, and everything gets thrown out the window. Again, saying more would be to give away too much. And I dislike writing that, because I don’t want to sell this book to you by pitching “Twists! Turns! You’ll never see the end coming!” Rather than it having a Sixth Sense ending, Flynn forces the reader to drastically change their perspective during the story. It’s a pretty great story device and again, makes for a compelling read.

And yet, I don’t know if I’d recommend this to anybody. Compelling, yes, but overall the book left me feeling sullen. There wasn’t much redeeming about the story and I think that’s why I don’t totally feel confident putting my stamp of “You’ll love it!” on Gone Girl. But Flynn’s writing has a beautiful voice, and she deftly illustrates how two people can interact and communicate (or not communicate, depending on your perspective) in a way that will ruin a marriage. I greatly enjoyed reading it despite my lingering feelings of discontent upon the book’s end. You might, too.

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