BOOK: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

gonegirlSeveral years ago, I read Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, and wasn’t terribly impressed.  Never bothered checking out any of her other books until Gone Girl started popping up on everybody’s Best of 2012 lists.  Hey, maybe she got better?  Worth a shot, right?

Alas, I ended up having pretty much the same issues with this novel, inventive as it was, that I had with the previous one.  Creative thinking is great, but when your characters become so “creative” they cease to feel authentic and their actions cease to be even remotely comprehensible, from any angle of thought, you lose me. And so it was with the two main characters in this book, Nick and Amy Dunne.

The story starts out pretty fantastic — in fact, this novel was so thoroughly engaging over the first, say, 5/6ths, I had a hard time putting it down.  It’s told in alternating chapters by Nick and Amy, a married couple with two very different perspectives on their relationship.  Nick’s sections are set in the present, and tell the story of Amy’s disappearance on their wedding anniversary and the charges against him that follow.  Amy’s section begins as excerpts from her journal — from the months leading up to her disappearance — and switch to present time later in the book.  The more the two stories unfold, the less you realize you know about what’s truly going on.  And every twist that follows is surprising and exciting.

Until the end rolls around, anyway.  Then suddenly these two characters I felt like I’d FINALLY gotten a handle on, after the dizzying ups and downs of the story, both do something that makes absolutely ZERO sense for either of them.  No sense at all.  And that’s when I stopped being thrilled by the novel’s unpredictability and started being annoyed by it instead.

I can absolutely see why people loved this book — I loved it myself until the ending came around.  But when I get to the end of a novel and I end it feeling like I still have no idea who the main characters were, it leaves me feeling disconnected from the whole experience.  It’s not that I demand that every novel have characters I can relate to personally, or that every story have some kind of graspable “point.”  But a book in which I can’t get a handle in any way on the people involved, let alone connect to either of them, is not a book I can really engage with fully.  And that’s where Gone Girl kind of left me. . . gone.

Then again, everybody else I know absolutely ADORED this book.  So, it’s possible I should just shut up.  Do with this information what you will!  AS USUAL!

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One Response to “BOOK: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)”

  1. RogerBW Says:

    Heh. Yeah, I haven’t read any Flynn, but I know just what you mean about feeling let down by the ending of a book (or a film) that exposes the moving levers behind apparently-realistic events or people – even if I’d enjoyed the rest of it up to that stage, it makes the whole exercise seem pointless.

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