I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am always late to the party of popular mainstream books. It isn’t some book snob within me that is like, “Well, let me see what x amount of people think, before I waste my time with it.” It’s really because I have too many books on my “To Read Immediately” list and don’t get me started on my “To Read Later” list. Also, I get a lot of my picks from People Magazine’s book reviews and I am about three months behind on reading them, because I have a very busy life. 😀 But I really want to see the movie, so I decided the time was right, I am going to read this…
“Gone Girl” By Gillian Flynn (June 12, 2012)
Marriage can be a real killer…
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist that could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media – as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents – the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter – but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
I have to say that I really liked this book. I felt it kind of started off slow, before revving up to the point where I couldn’t put it down, but more importantly it kept that revved up pace until the very end, so that is certainly something. Nick is an asshole, but what I like is that he is only that way, because his character is so incredibly authentic. Think of anyone under the microscope and you will realize that all of their flaws will seem so much larger than they may actually be.
This is a very his side, her side kind of story. Since Amy disappears in the very beginning, the reader gathers opinions of her through Nick’s perceptions and memories, as well as her diary entries. The book alternates characters every other chapter without fail: Nick/Amy and so on. The book is very well written and well crafted. Flynn knows how to write a page turner. I would try to fit in a few chapters between things in my schedule, but I would get to the end of most chapters and they left you hanging in just the right spot, that it felt impossible to stop reading. And of course because chapters alternate, you can’t just decide to read the next chapter, you have to read that chapter and then it’s the next where you want to be, but then there would be another twist, and it was just a vicious cycle.
I can’t really say much about the book in terms of what happens or what I found the most interesting, because this book’s joy was all of the twists and turns that it takes. Even the little ones… I don’t want to deprive anyone who has yet to read this book of any of that OMG experience. But this book is about a marriage gone terribly wrong, and taking that marriage to the darkest of places.
Marriage is not just about love, but about one of the greatest commitments a person can make. It is not about one choice – until death do you part, but about making that choice every single day for the rest of your life. I think any married person knows this. I’ve only been married for a little over two years, and I know this. Marriage is work, and you keep working at it because you love that other person and there is no question in your heart about whether it is worth it, but it is a choice – every day. I don’t think I have a troubled marriage, it really is peaks and valleys, but I think we’re pretty all right compared to a lot of other couples. But I will say, for whenever I have wondered just how all right we are, this book was an ego boost for sure. I just kept thinking, “We’re not this fucked up. We’re not this fucked up. Oh my God! We’re not this fucked up.” Even at our worst… we will never be that fucked up. And that makes me smile! 😛
The only aspect of this book that I did not like, which is also the only reason it wasn’t a perfect five out of five stars, was the end. I mean the entire book led up to a moment, a certain pay off that was demanded… and the end just turned around and did the opposite. It was like, “oh yes, oh yes, oh yes… what the hell?!” I wondered if this was just me, if it was some silly thing that I needed as a reader, but upon reading several reviews I realized that nearly everyone agreed. Even the five star reviews almost always mentioned the ending. A lot of reviews even mentioned it in the title: “Great read – apart from the ending” or “Great start, disappointing end”. A lot of people felt the same way I did. What the hell?
As a reader, who is also a writer, I felt like Flynn followed her own agenda for this book, instead of listening to what the book demanded. If you’re a writer, you’ll get this statement. We start out with an idea, and then the characters and the story take over, and sometimes your (the writer’s) plans change because either the characters or the story demand it. It means what you’re writing is magic, but if you force the story in a direction that follows what you want, instead of what it wants… well this is what happens. I can totally see Flynn justifying her book’s end to herself, talking herself into it, about how cool it is if you really stop and think about it. But the truth is that the ending is so disappointing and anti-climatic that no one will stop and think about, because they’ll feel too let down and want to move on to a book that follows its own course, rather than the carefully pre-plotted agenda of its author.
But if you can prepare yourself for a disappointing end, it is still worth the read! After all, the first 408 pages are magic – it’s only the last 7 pages where it all deflates.