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Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is the third book I’ve read by Gillian Flynn. After finishing Sharp Objects and Dark Places, I felt like I needed the proverbial shower.

After finishing Gone Girl, Flynn’s latest,  I felt like I needed to get outside, see the sun, give thanks for being married to someone who isn’t crazy, and then go take at least one shower. Then maybe read the book again to appreciate just how well-crafted it was.

I saw someone on Twitter saying, “I liked it, but I don’t want to know what Flynn went through as a kid.”

I know nothing about the author, but good grief, she’s drawn to the dark. If that doesn’t turn you off, let me tell you what I can without spoiling anything.

Gone Girl 

The book is told in alternating first-person segments from the points of view of Amy and Nick. They’re married.

Right off the bat you get Nick on the day that Amy disappears.

Cut to Amy, quite a while before the disappearance.  Cut back to Nick in present day.  Cut back to Amy, another diary entry, a little nearer the day of the disappearance.

By about the halfway point the two sections have overlapped chronologically, and then things get, depending on what you’re willing to put up with, very good or very bad. But enough on that note. I can’t get into anything else, plot-wise, without robbing you of the slow, deliberate, unfolding of the story.

Nick and Amy are both characterized brilliantly.  I got to know them both quickly and well.  And therein lies the best (or worst) part of the book: they’re not people you’d ever want to know or have in your life.

Flynn’s characters are always wrecks.  Emotionally damaged, needy, superficial, ugly, manipulative, self-destructive, etc.

This leads to something else I love about her books: they’re all funny in a sick way. I bet something on every page of Gone Girl made me laugh, then wish I didn’t find it funny.  You’ll either see what I mean or you’ll groan and put the book down as you get into these characters’ minds, bit by bit.

If you like thrillers and/or mysteries, I think you’ll find a lot to like here.  If your literary tastes skew to the upbeat, inspiring, and life-affirming, Gillian Flynn probably isn’t going to become your favorite author with this book, or any other she’s written.

But I loved it. A hell of a read.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Susan Garvey August 16, 2012, 8:20 am

    Hi Josh:

    I read this book recently after hearing lots of buzz from friends. I then went back and read her previous two books. I enjoyed the heck out of the experience of reading all three and wished there were more. They were compelling with characters you didn’t necessarily like, but wanted to know more just the same. I particularly loved her statement at the end of one of her books about her husband being willing to sleep with her every night knowing how her brain works (paraphrasing here…)

  • Claire L. Fishback September 4, 2012, 1:39 pm

    I’m about 75% into Dark Places. Sharp Objects so far was my favorite based on shock value alone. She totally got me with the twist in that one. Gone Girl I felt was anticlimactic and left me wanting more.

    All in all, Gillian Flynn is a BRILLIANT writer.

    • Josh Hanagarne September 4, 2012, 2:03 pm

      Sharp Objects was a very nice, nasty surprise. I don’t think I’d ever heard of Flynn. I remember, I just picked it up because of the cover.