I dived into the book with high expectations. I’d been hearing good things about it, not to mention the fact that it’s an international best seller. Did it live up to the hype? Let’s see.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, so if you hate spoilers, then I suggest you stop reading now. But if, like me, you don’t mind, then I hope what follows makes sense.
I found it interesting that from the beginning, I felt no sympathy whatsoever for Nick Dunne. Quite understandably so, given the shit fest he’d managed to find himself in. But I felt the same way about Amy’s entries in the first part – like okay, I’m supposed to be feeling for her but there was something so manufactured, something trying too hard about her entries. I kept thinking if it was intentional in Flynn’s part or something was missing with her writing. True enough, when the second part rolled in, things made more sense. I was jarred, and my sympathies shifted. Sort of. I can never completely root for a cheater, no matter what the sorry reason behind it was, BUT Amy was just fucking twisted, man. Nick was an asshole, but Amy was really fucking sick.
I tried to like the book, I really did. The writing was compelling enough for me to want to finish it (though I rarely leave a book unfinished), and I was invested enough to want to know how things would turn out for the two main characters. The element of surprise was there. The book made me wonder what would push someone to that point. But there was no… heart. There was no conviction especially behind Amy’s characterization. Sure, we know she feels ripped off by her parents, that she probably deserved a better childhood, but really, I was not convinced that was reason enough for her to turn out the way she did. Then again, I do acknowledge that I don’t really know what that’s like but unlike, say, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, for instance, that had some twisted shit in it, too. But Larsson provided enough history and feelings and psychology for me to at least understand why the antagonist did what he did. It wasn’t an excuse, I never sympathized with him and I still cringe at the very thought of him, but it at least made me understand. And the effect was intense; it left me deeply disturbed, and thinking deeply about the humanity of it all. It’s not to say that this book didn’t disturb me, because it did to a certain degree, but it still lacked something.
The ending was anti-climactic as well. I’ve read enough books to know I can’t always get the ending I want, and I’ve read books which didn’t end the way I wanted them to, but this particular ending left me unsatisfied in the sense that it didn’t really drive home any message for me other than psychotic people can get their way? I don’t know. I’m still trying to digest it.
It was entertaining, and it was not without its moments of brilliance. I thought it was clever, the way the book let you form an initial impression of Nick, only to turn it around in the middle. His character was also fleshed out better than Amy. I thought Flynn was good at drawing out the moments of suspense, and her prose, especially in times of rage, were rather effective. I could feel the rage coursing through me as well and wanting to throw Amy into the ocean or Desi into the lake.
Gone Girl was indeed suspenseful, and left me on the edge for the most part, but it could have done with more conviction. Perhaps it’s a personal thing, and I’m probably in the minority here, but this is my humble opinion.