"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Monday, 18 February 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

When Nick Dunne returns home on his fifth wedding anniversary he finds the front door flung wide open, the house a mess, and his beautiful wife, Amy, missing. But when the police get involved and the evidence mounts, all of the clues seem to point to Nick. This might sound like a typical premise to a pretty average thriller novel but be warned, Flynn has written a novel that will surprise and stun you; it is dark, disturbing and filled with tension and numerous twists and turns.

Gone Girl is the most original and memorable thriller I have ever read.  At its core it is about what makes relationships work, and the consequences of miscommunication in a relationship. It forces us to consider how much we really know our spouse.

The narration is unique and lends a whole other level to the novel; it’s a very clever book. The chapters alternate between Nick’s perspective, starting from the day of Amy’s disappearance, and excerpts from Amy’s diary, starting from the day the couple first met. Giving the perspectives of both the alleged victim and culprit provides the reader with unique insight; I loved this aspect as most thrillers have you read things from the detective’s point of view. It soon becomes clear, however, that our two narrators are far from reliable. For example once the police have come to Nick’s house shortly after Amy’s disappearance, he is talking to them completely normally, seemingly helping them as much as he can, when out of nowhere he informs the reader: “It was my fifth lie to the police.” It’s startling as up until that point you feel as though you’re on his side, he surely had nothing to do with Amy going missing, and then all of a sudden doubt creeps in and you feel compelled to re-read earlier sections to catch the clues that are scattered throughout. Gone Girl’s unusual style of narration means you never fully understand what is going on, even when you think you do, you don’t know who to trust, and desperately want to get to the bottom of it all. It kept me intrigued right from the beginning; it is a novel that immediately hooks you and doesn’t let go until you’ve devoured every page. 

Flynn is a talented writer; she manages to make you feel about the characters exactly how she wants you to feel. The dialogue flows effortlessly, and the characters feel real and easy to sympathise with or hate accordingly. She leaves clues and red herrings peppered throughout the novel; I am tempted to re-read most of it again to see if I can ‘see it coming’ upon a second reading. I can’t wait to read Flynn’s two other novels Dark Places and Sharp Objects; if they’re anywhere near as good as Gone Girl I will have found a new favourite author. 

I like reading the occasional thriller, but they are largely very samey and lacklustre. Not Gone Girl though; it’s unusual and intriguing style of narration, it’s compelling, messed-up characters and shocking plot twists make for a dynamic, gripping, smart and truly memorable read. 

Rating: 9/10

My other Gillian Flynn reviews:
Sharp Objects 

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