Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl (Verloren Vrouw)
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller – Mystery – Crime
Publisher: Boekerij
DOP: 2014 (originally published in 2012)
Pages: 444
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-90-225-7204-7
Website: Gillian Flynn

Nick Dunne knows something’s wrong when his neighbour calls to tell his cat is outside and the front door stands wide open. The moment he arrives home, there’s evidence of a struggle in the living room, the kettle is boiling but he can’t find his wife ‘Amazing’ Amy. He immediately contacts the authorities but finds himself in the middle of evidence pointing directly at him. His wife is missing, he’s prime suspect and his marriage isn’t as perfect as he wants people to see. The public is against him and Nick is pushed into a corner but will do anything to find his Amy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has received a lot of attention lately, having been winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012 for Best Mystery and Thriller and being released in theatre October 2014. The mystery of Amy’s disappearance is slowly unravelled between alternating point of views: Nick Dunne’s and entries of his wife’s diary. Combined with the cliffhangers and the evidence that has been found, Flynn created one of the best thrillers I’ve recently read, with a psychopath that goes beyond my imagination. It was a story that kept me reading until the early hours of the night.

The story is written in three parts, with the first part beginning rather descriptively in a disgustingly way that immediately plants a seed of doubt of Nick’s true nature. His thoughts and actions make him suspicious and yet, as the plot thickens and we read his wife’s diary, beginning from the moment they met until right before she disappeared seven years later, there’s something that makes you doubt everything. Is Nick telling the truth? Is Amy telling the truth? It’s obvious that their love for each other and their relationship has changed towards the end, revealing cracks in a marriage that Nick is desperate to hide from the media.

These diary entries are cleverly put within the story, connecting seamlessly with the evidence the police find, only enforcing the seed of doubt. Nick’s behaviour while his wife is missing, raises even more questions about his motive and that combined with everything else you already know at that point, it starts messing with your head: is he guilty of murder? Or is something else going on?

Part two deals with the why. Why did Amy disappear? Nick tries everything to get his wife back and if you don’t want to get spoiled, I strongly recommend you skip the next part, pick up the book and read it first before you come back.

Jump towards the next part if you want to avoid spoilers!

MAJOR SPOILER PART. Do NOT READ when you haven’t read the book/seen the film.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

In the second part of the story, everything starts to clear up. Amy’s voice changes, her character shows cracks. At first, I felt uncomfortable with the vulgar vocabulary but the more I became used to Amy’s change of character, the easier I accepted it. With Amy’s personality, that slowly becomes clearer during the story, it only feels natural that her way of thinking is different. If she had been any less vulgar or more cute and perfect, I would have found it hard to believe her as a character and the reason why she’s acted the way she did.

Amy is brilliant, always three steps ahead of everyone else but she’s also sick, obsessive and afraid of not being good enough. She wants and needs everyone to be obsessed about her and the moment she finds out Nick has an affair, is the moment she decides she’d make sure that Nick will pay for his mistake, coming up with the craziest set up I’ve read in a very long time.

Nick has many flaws, not only as a husband but his reactions to his wife’s disappearance are odd. Although he’s got the public against him, he holds it up and keeps strong, seeing through Amy’s actions. He knows she wants to punish him but he comes up with a plan to lure her back; his last hope she’ll buy his lies.

I liked Nick’s character the moment he decided to get back at Amy and tries to show the authorities how twisted she really is. He’s smart too, almost as brilliant as his wife and he continued to amaze me, right until the point when part three arrived.

At this point, Gone Girl changed from being a mystery where the wife disappeared, into an intelligent masterpiece in which husband and wife test each other’s capacities and show how well they know each other. Unfortunately, Amy’s always one step ahead and she tricks Nick into dropping everything he was trying to find to get his wife behind bars. This disappointed me.

Nick promised to become such a strong character but he stopped fighting when she turned out being one step too clever for him. There were people who believed in him, trying to find a way to arrest her and prove her guilt and he threw it all away.

End Spoilers.

Gone Girl was an interesting journey, changing from mystery to a psychological thriller. A husband struggles against the mainstream opinion that he’s always the prime suspect with a disappearance. Flynn created a story with plot twists, suspense and cliff hangers while one clue after the other is slowly revealed.

Although the ending left me disappointed and sad, because Nick turned out not to be the person I thought he was, this was a story that kept me awake during the night, still surprising me until the end. Sometimes, the overdose of cliff hangers caused my eyes to roll (how many can there be in one story??) but it didn’t stop me from reading.

If you liked Gone Girl, you might want to check out her other books too:

Sharp Objects //  Dark Places

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