104,000 words, 432 pages, 19hrs and 57 min to read
First Published by Crown Publishing Group
First Published 24th May 2012
4.13 out of 5 on Goodreads
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
“There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.”
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
I first read this when it was released way back in 2012, so it’s been over a decade since I was first introduced to Amy Dunne. I remember enjoying it a lot, I liked the characters, the twist, the writing. But now I’m 11 years older, there has been a movie adaptation and times have changed a bit. But has my opinion?
In short, yes. I actually think I liked it more on a reread. The prose and voice that Gillian Flynn has constructed is really fantastic. It was a pleasure to read the characters’ cynical and sarcastic take on the world. The prose flowed so well and I found myself effortlessly breezing through the pages, which doesn’t always happen for me. I’m a slow reader. One of the greatest pains of my life.
What is Gone Girl About?
Gone Girl is a psychological thriller that follows Nick and Amy Dunne’s troubled marriage. On their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears, and Nick becomes the prime suspect. The story follows both Nick and Amy (through a series of diary entries) as their story unfolds. It delves into the complexities of their relationship, revealing dark secrets, and exploring themes of deception, media scrutiny, and societal expectations.
What was good about Gone Girl?
As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the strongest parts of the novel for me was the writing itself. It was so easy for me to read it and enjoy what I was reading. This is also partly down to how well the characters were developed. They felt more like living, breathing people than almost anything I can think of in recent memory.
Normally we don’t do spoilers here, but everything that follows will spoil the main twist.
I suspect you might know what this is as everyone seems to have read this book or seen the movie by now, so I won’t go into the nitty gritty detail but a big chunk will be spoiled.
Amy is one of the best psychopaths I have ever read.
I think I noticed so much more on my second read, maybe through already knowing the story or maybe because I’m older (and wiser?), but she is so intricately designed. Every one of her choices and actions left me feeling so brilliantly uncomfortable at what this woman was willing to go through to spite her husband. It felt like the ultimate petty revenge but also as she developed I could see exactly why she did it. Not that it was justifiable in any way, but more so that she was such a well-developed character that I could see inside her mind and knew how she would react before she did.
A few moments felt a little convenient, but overall, the plot was as brilliantly well put together as the characters. The smallest of details built up to this massive, well-designed story that just kept on giving.
What was bad about Gone Girl?
My biggest issue is that, despite the incredible voice, all the characters felt a bit too similar. They all had the same cynicism and sarcasm as each other, even one of the minor characters, one of Amy’s exes, spoke just like Nick and Amy. Maybe that was why he went out with Amy in the first place. But I think it would have been a less jarring experience if the other characters had a little less of Amy in them.
I also felt that the story could have been about 10-15% shorter and would have still kept all of its positives but just got to the important parts quicker.
These are both minor, personal complaints but I couldn’t help thinking about both of them as I was reading which did take me out of the story occasionally.
Overall, I think Gone Girl absolutely deserves its place as one of the best thrillers of the twenty-first century. The writing is gorgeous, the characters beautifully disturbing and the plot was so well constructed that it started to hurt my mind when I thought about how Gillian Flynn managed to construct every little piece. On a second read, I noticed the details of the characters far more and, despite the twist not landing at all (because I knew what happened), it still managed to surprise me and make me want to keep reading. It’s not perfect and some people might not like a lot of what I love about it, but for me this is right up there with the must-read recent thrillers.