Strengths: Very gripping and meticulously planned.
Weaknesses: You could take the ending as the ultimate solution – or not.
Why I read it: This book has garnered a lot of attention since it was published.
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Setting: New York City and Missouri
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
This is a difficult review to sit down and write. What do you say about a book that it seems everybody has read and that featured frequently on best books of 2012? A book that is now long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and people are arguing over its inclusion – is it worthy?
I suppose I could start by telling you the reaction of several people I know to this book. They ranged from ‘ohmygodfantastic’ (yes, said that quickly) to ‘so weird’ and finally, ‘it has a terrible structure and I don’t know how it ever got published’ (this person says this about every book in the universe). These are the kind of polarising opinions you get with Gone Girl – it’s one of those love it or hate it kind of books.
Me? I’m a lover. I think this is one of the best revenge novels I’ve ever read. I would happily hire Amy if I needed revenge on someone (but would fear for my life should she turn in the middle of the process). It is a little far-fetched at times, coincidences falling beautifully into place, but that’s fiction. You can put your characters right where they’re needed.
For those who haven’t read this book, the book is about a couple, Nick and Amy, who are in a dwindling relationship. When Amy goes missing on their wedding anniversary, all clues point to Nick. Nick protests his innocence, but all the evidence points to a secret life and a growing hatred of Amy. The story is interwoven with excerpts of how the couple met, fell in love and ended up away from New York City to a small town in Missouri.
There are two major strengths in Flynn’s writing that made this book a standout for me. One, her ability to plot. (I’d love to know if she’s a plotter or a pantser – if she’s the latter, she must have an awesome memory!) There are so many twists, turns, red herrings and little details that become important later on that it’s a sight to behold (or read). The plot is like a car crash or watching an operation on one of those hospital shows – it’s unsettling, but you have to keep looking/reading. The second is the characterisation. I loved how Flynn dropped in tiny hints that planted seeds of doubt into my mind about the validity of both Nick and Amy’s characterisation. I almost felt like I was a detective trying to work out what was going on in this sorry mess. Amy is an incredible character, definitely unique and highly intelligent (she’ll bash me if I don’t say that!) Flynn has the ability to get deep inside her characters’ minds and share their innermost worries and thoughts with the reader. The competition between Nick and Amy is palpable and would question why somebody would ever want to get married if it ends up like this!
I found this book a compulsive read that wouldn’t let me go until I’d finished reading it. Even after finishing, scenes are coming back to me – at the moment, it’s the deserted mall scene. It’s so wonderfully full of suspense and eeriness. Whether this book deserves to be on a prize list is not for me to debate, but this is definitely a book to read from it!