I don’t usually read books. It just isn’t something I pencil into my hectic school-year schedule; if I’m reading, it’s bound to be for class. It’s not that I’m uncouth or uncultured — I can give you a list of very solid reasons. My fall television lineup requires the utmost diligence to follow. My phone buzzes too often. I’m sitting here waiting for my phone to buzz too often. Ultimately, it comes down to this — I don’t really read books.
This reality is not at all amusing to my mother, who thinks every 18-year-old girl should fall asleep at night reading War and Peace and wake up and pick up a copy of The Fountainhead. Needless to say, I was a tad skeptical when she handed me a copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and ordered me to read.
But read I did. I read and read and read. I, the girl who doesn’t read, read for 22 hours straight.
It was that good.
Gone Girl, Flynn’s latest psychological thriller, isn’t compelling for the same reasons as the summer’s other, far more infamous, best seller. The shades of grey in this book are far more interesting. The book is a captivating read and at its best an intense character study with meaningful insight into some very poignant questions — from revenge to human limitation, it’s all there.
Interested? I was, too. Though the first chapter of the book read like a mediocre romance novel, 20 pages in I was completely hooked. Gone Girl tells the tale of Amy and Nick Dunne, two young, relocated New Yorkers who live in a beautiful home on the banks of the Mississippi River in your typical tale of minor marital dysfunction. On the morning of their fifth anniversary Amy vanishes. Her disappearance leaves a peculiar crime scene and invites a media sensation in the small town of North Carthage, Missouri.
But this isn’t your normal disappearance story. Flynn expertly alternates between Nick’s perspective in the present — where we watch him lie, fib and omit his way through a search and police investigation for undisclosed reasons — and Amy’s perspective, where we learn the details of her rocky relationship with Nick through diary entries that date up until her disappearance.
The back-and-forth between past and present is interesting, especially when it’s hard not to wonder about Nick. It’s not every day that you can like a book’s protagonist and still think he may have killed his wife, all while you’re following the story from inside his head.
I won’t say more at the risk of spoiling one of the book’s many unforeseen turns. But I will say this — there is lying, cheating, a sleazy lawyer, a good cop, a lot of bad cops, over-involved parents, a faithful twin sister and a seemingly disinterested Nick. And no one is who he seems.
This is Gone Girl, and it deserves a read. Characters often surprise us, but Flynn’s sharp-witted, intricately woven plot takes duplicity to a whole new, beautiful level.
Like I said, I don’t read books. But when I finished this one, I had chills.