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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Thus far I have written only one negative review on this blog. I don’t really see the purpose in writing about a book I didn’t like. We all know what they say about opinions…what I think about a book is only relevant here in the sense that I am sharing my passion with you. We should be champions of books rather than their snarky detractors. But then Gone Girl happened.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a novel told in the split perspective of Nick Dunn and his missing possibly deceased wife Amy. I’m not going to argue that I look to literature to make friends, and I like plenty of books about somewhat less than savory characters. But that being said, Nick and Amy are simply abhorrent people. They are the worst sort of entitled, petulant, pretentious people imaginable. If their story were operating for some greater purpose I would be here singing the praises of Flynn and her novel, but the greater purpose of this novel is only in how enamored it is of itself and its darkness. People are often terrible; usually there is a reason for their lies and deceit and general detestability. Not so here.

Back to plotting though. Amy is missing. The house is a wreck. As usual, the husband is the prime suspect. Nick speaks directly to the reader, defending himself and proclaiming his innocence all as he lies to the police and digs himself a deeper grave involving Amy’s recently increased life insurance policy and Nick’s much younger girlfriend on the side. For Amy’s part we get years worth of her old journals. We hear about her courtship with Nick, her marriage, and her eventual fall from grace when she and Nick lost all of their money and had to leave their savvy New York life behind for the blandest of dying towns in the Midwest. All of this sounds great. Typical crime novel conventions. The problem comes for me when Flynn tries to turn these conventions on their head.

Gone Girl does not want to be a thriller (or at least just a thriller). It wants to be a literary novel about love, marriage, and the personas we are forced to adopt when we promise “till death do us part.” The most frequently quoted passage in the novel comes when Amy writes about the “Cool Girl” – you know the one. It’s the woman that loves bar food and fart jokes, sports and sex. Amy wore the persona of the Cool Girl for years ultimately becoming imprisoned in the falsity of her creation and in her marriage. It’s a great passage and an interesting topic for discussion, but the novel does not support it as a theme. The attempts at a deeper meaning, the contrived plot twists, the completely bananas ending…it all came together in the worst possible way for me.

As I stated earlier, I don’t see much value in negative reviews, but I had to get my thoughts out here. Gone Girl has SO MANY fans and you can see their reviews throughout the whole of the book world. I don’t encourage you not to read Gone Girl – in fact, I want you to read it so we can talk about it! It took me a year to get to this book; everyone was a buzz about it last year – now I’m alone. I was trying to stay away from the hype machine, but it worked so hard and for so long I had to give it a try. Gone Girl was not for me – it hit all of the wrong notes. If you want to read a literary novel about a man who may or may not have killed his wife that functions as a rumination on marriage and shared lives try Adam Ross’ Mr. Peanut. It succeeds in all of the ways Gone Girl fails.

1 comment:

  1. Ominously clever. The backgrounds of the characters are revealed through diary entries and actual events interwoven masterly throughout the page turner.
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