It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book cover to cover in 48 hours. But Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” is that sort of novel – the prose is exact, intelligent and engrossing enough to fascinate you with the marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne, even as you know everything is going horribly wrong for both of them.
The Dunne’s relationship is picturesque at first, but when financial and family matters force them back to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, Missouri, resentment on both sides sets in. On the fifth anniversary of their marriage, Amy Dunne goes missing. Her husband, of course, is the first person police suspect.
But this is anything but an ordinary thriller. The novel is split into two parts: the first is told from Nick’s point of view and interspersed with Amy’s diary entries.
In the second, Amy and Nick tell their stories in alternate chapters. Amy’s diary entries shine with romance as she reveals how they met and enjoined in the relationship of her dreams. Nick is honest and blunt to the point where he starts to lose sympathy. He deals with the present, with the aftermath of Amy gone missing and all of the questions left unanswered.
“Gone Girl” is not what I thought it would be. That’s exactly what makes it a disturbing, beautiful novel about relationships and the psychological implosions that can cascade and elevate through even years of a seemingly stable relationship.
When people marry, they have to accept that the person they marry is going to grow, change and perhaps become someone completely different from the person they started the relationship with.
This is the story of the extremes in how everything can go wrong – the ultimate how-not-to book. Far from cliché and bordering on the line between disturbing and perverse, the complex protagonists may not be good Samaritans at their finest, but they are human in every scene’s portrayal of love, horror and catastrophe.
“Gone Girl” is striking in the way that an avalanche is: terrifying, cascading and difficult to look away from.