Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a breakout success, so much so that she is apparently writing a screen version of it at the moment. I have read her debut novel, Sharp Objects, and found it a cynical and bleak thriller about broken people who break others (that is not a complaint, by the way!). I am reading Dark Places at the moment and enjoying it. But Gone Girl is the one; the one that all the book groups are reading, the one that is on the shelves in the supermarket, the one that people ask you about as soon as they clock you reading it (“Ooh, what do you think of it?”).
The question is, does Gone Girl deserve the hype? On the whole, I’d say the answer is yes. The ending is not as strong as I’d like, but the first part of the book is an engaging mystery; the second part of the book hits you hard with a twist and then speeds off, leaving you breathless and desperately trying to keep up as it gallops towards the ending. I was absolutely desperate to know what happened and literally could not put it down, reading far later into the night than I should have just to find out more. This is a stylish, brutal, well-written book that catches you and toys with you throughout.
Gone Girl has an intriguing format that draws you in from the start, opening on the day that Amy Elliot Dunne disappears from the house she shares with her husband, Nick. Nick’s chapters, dating from the day Amy vanishes and going forward, are interleaved with Amy’s diary entries recounting the story of their relationship from the day they met up to the day she vanishes. Amy is the inspiration for a set of children’s books, the Amazing Amy series, written by her parents, and the Amazing Amy style and the magazine quizzes she now writes for women’s mags inform the way in which her diaries are written. Both protagonists write in the first person, so you come to know both Nick and Amy very well.
As an aside, I love the way that Flynn’s books have been packaged. The matt black covers with neon text and images (pink, green and, in the case of Gone Girl, orange) are smart, stylish and fresh-looking.
This is a great thriller that keeps you hooked up to the final pages. Although I found the ending slightly disappointing compared to the rest of the book, it’s only because the rest of the book was of such a high standard that the it was always going to be difficult for the ending to live up to my expectations.
SERIOUS SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP
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