by Gillian Flynn
Crown Publishing Group
Last week, it seemed as if half the people I knew were reading Gone Girl, and the other half were talking about it. It seemed that way because it was very nearly true: most of my friends are readers, and Gone Girl is number-one on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.
And for good reason: Gone Girl is unputdownable. Gillian Flynn has done something remarkable: she’s written a mystery novel that’s so crazily compelling, it doesn’t matter that you’re required to suspend your disbelief for most of the back half of the book. You’ll be racing through it without regard to plausibility; in fact, the implausibility of the plot is, in a way, the point.
To say almost anything about Gone Girl is to say too much. But here goes: on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Elliott Dunne is missing and presumed murdered. Her husband, Nick Dunne, is the prime suspect. The chapters alternate between Nick’s voice and Amy’s–Nick’s in real time, as the plot unfolds, Amy’s in a series of journal entries that begin years earlier when she first meets Nick and continue up to the day she disappears.
Amy is the daughter of a couple of wealthy psychologists who are also authors of a bestselling series of Amazing Amy children’s books. She writes quizzes for a women’s magazine in Manhattan. Nick’s a magazine writer, too. But when they both lose their jobs as the publishing industry goes to hell, Nick decides he and Amy should move to his hometown of Carthage, Missouri, where Alzheimer’s Disease is destroying his father’s mind and his mother is dying of cancer. Nick uses most of the money in Amy’s trust fund (with Amy’s consent) to invest in a bar with his sister Margo; Amy takes care of Nick’s mother and seems lost in this river town that’s so far away, geographically and psychically, from anything she’s ever known.
Nick and Amy agree: the first couple of years of their marriage were blissful. But here their stories begin to diverge. In Amy’s view, Nick is moody, seething, unreliable–or is he? In Nick’s view, Amy is condescending, cold, calculating–or is she? You’re never entirely sure whom to believe. Couple that with enough genuine surprises for twelve novels, and Gone Girl is a book that will keep you ignoring the rest of your life until you finish it.
It’s not perfect. The ending makes sense plot-wise but isn’t entirely satisfying, and several events strain credulity past the breaking point. It matters little. Gone Girl is a thrill-ride of a novel guaranteed to keep you turning pages–and you will most certainly want to talk about it when you’re through.