Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Horrible People Being Horrible - a review on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

You probably know by now that I love a good thriller, so I bought Gillian Flynn’s much-buzzed Gone Girl with high expectations.

It’s received high praise, been lauded as a frightening portrait of psychopathy that’s brilliantly-written with twists and turns to rival Alfred Hitchcock. Glowing reviews snagged my attention and I bought it despite Sarah’s warnings that it may not be my sort of thriller.

A seemingly perfect, beautiful wife who is well-known as the template for a series of children’s books titled “Amazing Amy” and a husband, Nick, who’s become disillusioned with his life and his wife give some backbone to the claim that this suspense thriller will chill and thrill its readers. Amy and Nick Dunn finds them living where neither wants to be with no income other than Amy’s money from her parents who are as wacky and unlikeable as all the other characters in Gone Girl. In a rented McMansion along the Mississippi River they bemoan their fall from a life of luxury in New York, loss of jobs and their loss of passion for one another. Into this mix comes Amy’s disappearance on what should have been a celebration of their anniversary. 

This bland, yet strangly intriguing, plot concept could be viable, but it fell apart for me thanks to Gone Girl’s wholly despicable characters.

Amy aka Amazing Amy made her parents a great deal of money. They patterned her actions, her relationships with her friends, even her appearance into a series of books that found their way into grade school classrooms, libraries, bestseller lists and finally into the hands of nearly every child in the U.S.  But shocking as it becomes for the country, Amy the icon disappeared leaving her husband as the  prime suspect for her disappearance. Suspicion of murder becomes stronger with each weird clue that surfaces.

The first section of Gone Girl centers around the investigation into Amy’s disappearance. We discover that Amy is a mean-spirited, manipulative creature whose sole purpose is to make others miserable, to condemn everyone she comes in contact with and to sharpen her killer instincts with each ugly action she takes. Amy has plans and wickedly ugly and cynical thoughts to condemn anyone unfortunate enough to fall under her spell.

Getting into the mind of a person with no redeeming qualities does not make for an enjoyable read. 

I was in a pocket bar to the far left of the casino entrance, as planned, and watch the aged boy band sing to a large snowy-haired audience, snapping and clapping along shuffling gnarled fingers through bowls of complimentary peanuts, the skeletal singers, withered beneath bedazzled tuxes, spin slowly, carefully, on replaced hips, the dance of the moribund.

In Amy’s mind no one meets her standard of excellence. There’re all moribund and worthless, not worthy of even a nod from her.

Her husband Nick’s no better. He refers to her as a “crazy psycho bitch.” Her response is to brag that everything she does is for a reason, that she’s all about planning and discipline. Every character in the book has horrific motivations and self-centered actions. Eight main characters populate the novel. Not one of them would I trust, nor would I want them anywhere near me or someone I care about.

Amy manages to orchestrate her psychotic intentions and foist them on everyone she come into contact with creating a toxic world where her greatest pleasure is to harm others.

Halfway through the book I considered not finishing it. Yet, the psychotic and sociopathic  behaviors of the characters kept me reading only because I was certain somehow, somewhere in the book someone would show at least a semblance of humanity.

It didn’t happen.

I am not saying the book isn’t well written. I admire Flynn’s craft as a writer.  She has created a cast of characters who cause shudders, frowns and horror.

{SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Do not continue reading if you do not want to be spoiled.} 

{Seriously. Spoilers ahoy!}

Nick and Amy Dunn reconcile after the great debacle of Amy insuring she’s found and saved.  She continues her life with Nick while embarking upon her quest for perfection. Perfection is the only suitable life for Amazing Amy. The last few paragraphs in the book say it all. 

We are on the eve of becoming the world’s best, brightest nuclear family.

We just need to sustain it. Nick doesn’t have it down perfect. This morning he was stroking my hair and asking what else he could do for me, and I said: “My gosh, Nick, why are you so wonderful to me?”

He was supposed to: You deserve it. I love you.

But he said “Because I feel sorry for you.”

“Why?”

“Because every morning you have to wake up and be you.”

I really, truly wish he hadn’t said that. I keep thinking about it. I can’t stop.

I don’t have anything else to add. I just wanted to make sure I had the last word. I think I’ve earned that.

These last words left me knowing that whatever her last word might be, it did not bode well for her husband who had failed to attain perfection. And Gone Girl, while a skillful exploration of unreliable narration, left me feeling disgusted, rather than intrigued. 

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FNL Character Rating: Joe McCoy

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