Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlEven though I have been a book blogger for quite a while now and am generally meant to be on top of all things bookish, I have been very slow at getting round to reading the book that pretty much the entire world (no exaggeration) has been discussing for the last year or so.  I got a bit fed up of my mum and my sister going into another room to talk about ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn so I thought I had better get round to reading it so that I could join in with the conversation.   

I deliberately chose not to read any reviews of ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn in order to avoid spoilers about the big “twist”. This was a sound decision and I would say it is definitely a good thing to read ‘Gone Girl’ knowing as little as possible about it.  All you really need to know is that it tells the story of Amy Dunne, a woman in her thirties who suddenly disappears from her house in North Carthage, Missouri on her fifth wedding anniversary.  When evidence of marriage problems begins to emerge, her husband Nick becomes the main suspect.  So, what exactly happened to Amy?

I’m not going to reveal any big spoilers about the “twist” or the ending.  What I will say is that I hadn’t known that the “twist” would occur in the middle as I assumed that it would come at the end.  It is rare for that sort of thing to happen right in the middle of a story rather than the beginning or the end so I found this really surprising and also quite refreshing.  Given that ‘Gone Girl’ is meant to be a thriller, I had initially thought that the pace was a little slow to begin with but the revelation at the beginning of Part Two gave the story a new lease of life.

The writing itself isn’t always brilliant but the observations about underlying resentment in relationships and ‘Cool Girl’ are spot on. Paradoxically, I tend to like the supposedly unlikeable characters more than the likeable ones so I found Nick and Amy’s relationship particularly fascinating.  Yes, the events and their characters are pretty extreme but they also revealed some subtleties about relationships too like how the cracks start to form.  The tagline “There are two sides to every story” turns out to be particularly ominous.

My mum read ‘Gone Girl’ a couple of months ago and said it felt like the author hadn’t known how the story was going to end even while she was writing it.  I had a little more faith in Flynn than my mum did as I think she plotted the story very well.  Even though the ending doesn’t entirely resolve everything, I still think it was actually quite satisfying.  Given the whole set-up of the book, I really don’t know how else it could have ended without descending into total farce.

A psychological thriller with a real twist, ‘Gone Girl’ is undeniably a very clever book that I really did find hard to put down.  As with many much-hyped books, it isn’t perfect, but it is very thought-provoking and definitely a book that you will want to discuss with other people.

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34 Comments

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34 responses to “Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

  1. I also happen to be one of the few remaining ones who haven’t read this. Your review gives me hope that maybe I’ll like this. Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects left me considerably underwhelmed.

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  2. I am unapologetically obsessed with Gillian Flynn. I loved Gone Girl and have since gone on to love Sharp Objects and Dark Places. Flynn has a talent for unlikeable characters and twisty plots that make her stories so very readable – they have the distinction of being perfect reading for a day at the beach or a cozy day in.

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  3. I haven’t read any of Gillian Flynn’s books, but Sharp Objects is the one that stands out to me the most. I didn’t know Gone Girl was a thriller, and that kind of puts me off since I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but maybe when it’s released in paperback I’ll take a look at it.

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  4. I loved Gone Girl but wasn’t able to get through Sharp Objects or Dark Places–they were both just a little TOO dark for me.
    On another note–I notice that the photo on your header contains one of my very favorite books–A Tree Grows In Brooklyn! (Quite a departure from Gone Girl, isn’t it?1?!)

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  5. Great review – I bought this yesterday a it was only 99p. Looks like it was money well spent 😉

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  6. I read this over the summer since absolutely everyone was reading/talking about it. It was so strange the way I felt one way about the characters until the twist, and then that changed dramatically. I’m not used to that so I was shaken up rather a lot 🙂 I am glad I read it though.

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  7. I generally don’t like the thriller genre, but I really enjoyed Gone Girl. I like how you describe it as a psychological thriller. There were a lot of mind games in that marriage. Thanks for posting!

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  8. Haven’t read it yet either! Sometimes, the more hype, the less inclined I am to read a book.

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  9. I also read the book based upon the incredible hype (most reviewed book on GoodReads 2012). I was probably set up for disappointment by these elevated expectations. I was much less satisfied with the ending than you, it seems. In addition, I have the problem of knowing that the central plot tenet is impossible as a practical matter, which makes a thriller such as this shaky at best. I did enjoy the unique nature of a story that explores the conflict between two truly dysfunctional, deceitful, and unlikable characters.

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  10. hey Clare
    Good review.
    I think it is one of the best unreliable narrator fiction ever written. A classic which people will remember for long.
    Cheers
    Ashutosh

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  11. Great review! Hmmmm… maybe I get around to the last of her books sometime, maybe…

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  12. Apparently Hollywood has picked up the story for 2015. Last I heard Reese Witherspoon was slotted for Amy… wonder who will be the handsome Nick?

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  13. mesetageresenfranglais

    I enjoyed gone girl. I wouldn’t read that type of book all the time but from time to time it is good. I also tend to not read them when there is all the buzz about them and read them after. Like you I thought that the book was good but not particularly beautifully written. The author has certainly a talent to
    create an atmosphere.

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  14. I definitely couldn’t put it down. What I didn’t enjoy was the fact that I didn’t find either of the main characters likeable, but that’s a romance author talking. It’s not as critical in a thriller, perhaps. Enjoyed your post!

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  15. Enjoyed your post. Like you, I finally read the book after seeing endless praise/hype. I seldom read thrillers. But must admit I read voraciously and I think the p0lot structure was daring, and a clever departure from the normal last-page-twist scenario. I plan to read more Gillian Flynn thrillers.

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  16. I also tend to like unlikable characters and like you, I was fascinated by the story and their relationship. I didn’t see the first chapter of the second part coming, but I found myself shouting “Yes, that is!”. It is so, SO sad that “Cool Girl” is still a thing in our society and that many young women our age want to be it…

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  17. Oh dear, I have the shortlist for both the Giller and the Manbooker stacked by my bed and after reading your post I feel compelled to go out and pick up GONE GIRL as I have had it on my ‘to read’ for a long time. Happily the evenings are getting longer and there’ll be more time for the reading life!
    Coincidentaly on CBC, The Next Chapter http://www.cbc.ca/thenextchapter/episode/2013/10/07/alistair-macleod-sarah-elton/ recently mentioned this very title.
    The journalist Ing Wong-Ward participated in a regular feature on that program. It’s called, “if you like this then you will like that…” the idea is to pick a popular book (in this case The Gone Girl) and propose a Canadian book that might be similar. Ing chose The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison which I may pick up as well at the same time as I purchase The Gone Girl, out of curiosity. (I shall probably have to go into hibernation to catch up on all this reading inventory 🙂

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  18. Loraine Branan

    Flynn’s books are really good. I think she really writes well. This read a great genre has a lot of hit and miss as all do I guess. But her books are worth the read. I just read a great one by Don Grippo, To Sleep…Perchance to Die, It was a great read even though I wasn’t sure about the content, surgery stuff is scary as it is. But his book was awesome in the psy thriller genre!

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  19. A Fresh Tomorrow

    Good review. Just like you, I avoided spoilers and reviews. I think this made for a better reading experience. Not sure how I feel about Ben Affleck playing Nick in the movie…

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  20. mushypeasonearth

    Interesting, I HATED this! MY review (I wrote on goodreads cos I hadn’t started my blog then):

    OVER-RATED. I would like to give this 2.5 stars but Goodreads does not allow. This may be a bit spoilery, so beware before you read on. On the one hand, its a fairly readable, enjoyable, modern thriller. But on the other, it makes for deeply uncomfortable reading and (in spite of being written by a woman) I would say it is incredibly misogynistic. In this era of victim-blaming and general disbelief of women who say they have been raped or abused by their partners it is not helpful to perpetuate this by basing a whole story around the idea of a ‘psycho bitch’ who frames her husband for her own murder and then manipulates him into taking her back. Moreover, you are supposed to sympathise with and pity Nick, the main character. Hello?! He has dragged his wife across the country, taken her money to finance a barely afloat bar and then cheated on her for over a year with someone who, we are repeatedly told, is “very young and very pretty”. Even before this, when things are supposedly fine he would not turn up to meet her and her friends in a bar and go to strip clubs etc, which she was supposed to be ok with because she was a ‘cool girl’. Makes me so angry. And the end is just silly, if all that wasn’t bad enough.

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  22. Meg

    Good review! I enjoyed the book as well. I particularly agree with the point you made about the twist coming in the middle. I definitely wasn’t expecting it!
    Although I did find the relationship between the two interesting, I felt unsatisfied with the characters. They lacked a certain depth. But nevertheless I quite enjoyed the book and it kept me interested the whole way along!

    What do you think of Flynn changing the ending? I’ll definitely have to see the movie and contemplate the changes!

    I also wrote a review of Gone Girl, you can check it out here: http://bit.ly/1ae3pBo

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  26. I really did like the book. I thought the way the book ended was neat. So many twists. I really liked the bitterness in the book too.

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