After two reviews of Atwood’s novel, I bring you another brilliant female author with some unique female characters-Gillian Flynn. I am somewhat familiar with her work as I have read ‘Sharp Objects’ (you can read the review on my website) and have also watched the movie based on ‘Gone Girl.’ I wanted to read ‘Gone Girl’ for a while now, but I knew I would need the time and the energy, as well as be in the right mental space to read it, so it only came to order now. I must say I did not regret it reading nor waiting a bit longer to be able to read it at the right time. If you did not read the book or watched the movie, then I must warn you that this review will have major spoilers in it as the plot twist is one of the strongest elements of this book.
The narrative follows two protagonists-Amy and Nick Dunne, an unhappy married couple who moved from New York to Nick’s small hometown after they both lost their jobs. On their fifth marriage anniversary, Amy disappears and due to variety of evidence, Nick is the suspect from making her disappear. The story is then presented through their voices, with each getting their own chapter. At the beginning, Amy’s section is taken from her diary, while Nick’s is a first person narration. It was interesting to me that Amy’s original job in New York was to write magazine quizzes and in her diary, she often makes her point in the quiz form, building a sort of ‘what would you do’ connection with her potential readers. Just like with ‘Sharp Objects’, I think that this choice of narration and narrator worked quite well. The story told is quite a private and personal one, so it only makes sense that the people involved are given the chance to tell it. It is also interesting to see the same events in their marriage from different perspective and thus understand some of the causes of the problems were. (You know, in addition to the fact Amy is a highly intelligent and capable person devoid of most emotions.) Once we learn the truth of the fact Amy is a master mind manipulator behind her disappearance, even going so far as to write fake diary entries for five years, pretending to be a different Amy, her entries are definitely completely diffrent.
I am not going to lie, reading about the intensity of her feelings for Nick and then how he shunned her made me feel for her, even though I knew what would happen through watching the movie. Compared to Amy, Nick seems unconvincing and deeply flawed man whose actions are partially to blame for almost everyone considering him a culprit. It could very much be intentional on the part of the author to show how easy it is to not look at the facts, but instead judge Nick based on the fact he is a bad husband and a bad son to his father with dementia. If that is the case, then well done! It was fascinating to read the mental gymnastics that Amy had to do to justify her actions and even more so to realize that for her this comes easily. The ‘Cool Girl’ monologue is some of the best piece of writing I read in a long time and Rosalind Pike’s cold demeanor while saying it gave me shivers. Her lack of emotions combined with extreme intelligence and organized mind mean that she leaves destruction in her step, never looking back or wondering about the hurt she caused to those she used for her goal. For the love of God, she framed her high school friend on stalking charges because she felt that the girl did not know enough about and falsely accused a guy of rape. The cold-hearted planning that she did every time was just as impressive as scary. You would definitely not want to get on Amy’s wrong side, for whatever reason.
Her relationship with her parents also unravels in the story. At first, they seem almost disgustingly in love and Amy their miracle baby that they are able to provide. However, it is obvious that she resents them for capitalizing on her childhood through the collection of ‘Amazing Amy’ books and then asked her for a huge part of trust fund. It seems like without this fund, Amy loses her financial freedom and is forced to move with Nick to his home town, completely different from New York. Until the end, Amy is willing to play the role of good daughter and a forgiving wife, but in reality, it is clear that she is always the one controlling the narrative and is a puppet master. With that said, the ending in which she returns but essentially keeps Nick hostage by blackmailing him, going so far as to make a baby using his donated sperm. This is a story about Nick as much as it is about Amy and their awfully toxic relationship. They do not really love each other, but merely the versions of themselves they pretended to be at the beginning of the relationship. Both of them are now stuck with each other until the end, especially with the child involved. Nick is terrified of being married to a woman capable of framing someone for rape and then killing them, somebody so calculated and manipulative.
The first part of the novel before we realize what Amy actually did was a little slow in setting the plot and characterization. However, I think that it makes the plot twist that much more effective. By the time it is revealed what Amy did, she is already built as an unsatisfied woman forced to be a housewife in a town she hates. Nick is an entirely unsympathetic pathetic man acting guilty from one situation to another and this belief is furthered by his affair with his young student. It will take a while for him to go back to good graces, something Amy uses for her goals.
At the end, ‘Gone Girl’ is less dark from ‘Sharp Objects’ in terms of atmosphere, setting and plot, but I think it still has a lot of elements that make Flynn such a popular and well liked author. For me, it was absolutely terrifying to think about how easy it was to be foolish by Amy and to disregard Nick as just a murderous husband. Amy’s mind is a wicked place and I think that Flynn did wonders in putting it to the page in such a coherent way. If I ever find the time, I would like to re read Amy’s fake diary entries with understanding what purpose they served. Overall, I wish that I read the book before watching the movie. Regardless of how well Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike portrayed the Dunns, their internal worlds are so much richer and complex in the novel.
Did you read the book or watched a movie? What do you think? Do you think that the movie did this story justice?