I finally got around to reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn after 32 weeks on the shelf.
I’d love to tell you the movie had nothing to do with it, but I’d be lying. I didn’t really care to by the movie cover version of the paperback, but I buy mass paperbacks when I can, and this was the only option.
As for the movie, I liked it. I thought it was really interesting and had a lot of little nested details, which made me wonder what the book would be like when there was more room to breathe. Now, surprisingly enough, there really wasn’t that much more added to the book. The movie did a pretty fantastic job of keeping the core of the characters and maintaining a lot of the details.
As for the book, I don’t trust people any more. For the spoiler-free review: It’s a good book full of odd little details and people you wouldn’t really want to hang out with (and a couple you might actually like). If you’re a fan of the whodunnit genre, this might be up your alley. The book follows alternating viewpoints, and Flynn does an excellent job of making each viewpoint separate. A lot of books written this way don’t read as two separate characters as much as they read as one person writing two separate characters. When it’s Amy’s voice (the missing wife) and when it’s Nick’s voice (the husband), they differ from each other. You could follow the tone and have a good idea of who’s talking.
Flynn also does a great job of screwing with people. She withholds well. Your character narrators don’t tell you everything they know, so it allows suspense to stick around where other writers might have given a character’s intentions away in the internal monologue.
The one downside for me is that I saw the movie before reading the book, so I knew the plot twists before they happened. The difference in this go was getting to see more depth from the characters (though their descriptions were muddied by the actors being in my head). That said, I’m glad I got to see more Go in the book. She’s the character I latched onto the most in the movie (everyone else did their job adequately, but I didn’t really want any more of them). She’s a fun character to have on the fringe. It’s possible a book following her might be interesting, but she almost works best as a supporting character.
Now for spoilers:
We good? You should stop reading if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie.
Holy crap are these awful human beings. Nick is regular awful and Amy is psychotic awful. There is no way to talk about this book without Amy’s sociopathic tendencies being central to the discussion. Her pathological need to be perceived as perfect is astounding. This book could have existed without Amy being pathological, but it would look completely different. When you realize how far she goes to screw with people, you get nervous. She’s a ticking time bomb.
As for Nick, he’s a smart idiot. He exists in the real world. You see him at some point. You know him. He does bad things because he doesn’t want to be perceived as bad, and he feels like he’s going to win no matter how many times he keeps losing (to the same damn person). He’s not as nuanced of a character, but he’s the heart of the story because he’s the one who keeps it grounded. If it was all Amy, this would be a very different book.
What makes it interesting is that they’re both people you would want to hang out with if you first got to know them, and they’re both people you’d avoid once you really got to know them. They exist on the idea of being perceived perfectly, though the lengths they take are very different. Comparing Amy to Nick is like comparing a lion to a kitten.
And again, you live in these character’s voices the entire time, including when Amy’s lying. That was a tonal shift, so really you have 3 characters narrating the story. And Flynn closed the book pretty perfectly by having Amy one-up Nick one last time.
All in all, I enjoyed the book a lot, even if I’m now inclined to think all people are awful.