Thursday 6 March 2014

Book 7 Review: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

"I was so twitchy with suspense at one point in the novel I Googled 'Who Killed Amy, Gone Girl'. Those who have read the novel feel free to laugh at me now."

My 7th book this year was the Novel ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. This is a novel full of suspense, a mix of who-done-it and fantastically flawed characters. I try and make all my reviews spoiler-free, and this novel is extremely hard to review without giving away the major plot twists and turns. But I promise this will be as spoiler free as possible. 
I enjoyed reading the book, but I discovered while reading this that I have a zero ability to cope with suspense, and this book is certainly full of it. As a reader you have no idea of how the story will resolve itself, or indeed if the complicated lives of its characters can ever be resolved happily.


Gone Girl book cover

The novel follows lovely married couple Nick and Amy as they celebrate their  5th wedding anniversary. Nick leaves for work and by the end of the day Amy is missing and as a reader you are strapped in for a ride that doesn’t stop until about 2 days after you have finished reading and mentally processing this novel. The novel alternates between the perspectives of Nick and Amy as right from the get-go you start to realise that their relationship is not all roses and sunshine. We follow Nick as he struggles to piece together his wife’s disappearance, and as the evidence slowly begins to stack up against him.
I am certainly feeling the pressure to make this a good review because Gone Girl is definitely the book of the moment. It is a huge bestseller and is soon to be made into a movie with Ben Affleck. It has been the first time that I have been tempted to read other reviews before writing my own, simply to find a way to review this book without giving it all away.



As a reader, I was shocked when I found that both Nick and Amy were not reliable narrators. I was used to a nice, straightforward relationship between a reader and a main character. As a reader of a novel written in first person I always go in with the naïve assumption that the narrator and I have an open relationship. It is apparently not the case in this novel and I was a little bit shocked. I suppose it wouldn’t be a very good suspense novel without some suspense and plot twists and turns (fancy that!) and sure enough Flynn delivers on both fronts. If you are feeling a little outraged that I gave this away, don't worry, it is one of the smallest plot twists, a mere wrinkle in the  fabric of the novel.
My scribbles as I tried to figure out how to review Gone Girl
The Good Bits
Flynn's writing is sharp, darkly humorous and she gets the voices of Nick and Amy spot-on. Nick constantly struggles to portray himself as a grieving husband, when the reality of his relationship with his missing wife is far from straightforward. You literally groan as Nick smiles automatically to a mob of media cameras instead of breaking down in tears as one would expect a worried husband to do. You feel just as tied up as Nick and Amy are in their complicated lives, so convincing is Flynn's writing. This makes it even more shocking when you realise that they are not the most reliable narrators.
Gone Girl also delves into some interesting commentary on how the Media reports on missing women. Families, Husbands, Friends and Neighbours are all expected to conform to their roles, to grieve publically and properly, to swear to find their missing loved one, to cry and sob for the flashing bulbs and watching lenses. The power of public opinion and the media mob once someone does not play their role properly is made fully apparent in this Novel, and will make anyone question their own perceptions when reading about or watching real life cases of disappearances or murders. The current media commentary on the Oscar Pistorius trial is tinged with the exact same themes raised by Flynn in Gone Girl. Listening to daytime TV hosts talk about how he definitely did/didn't murder his girlfriend makes you realise that Flynn's observations on the media coverage of missing/murdered women are spot on.
The Not So Good Bits
I was uneasy, tense and on edge when reading this book. Which I imagine is precisely how Flynn wants her readers to feel, but something I am not used to as I have not read a triller in a long time. This year is about reading outside my comfort zone and this book certainly booted me out. I was so twitchy with suspense at one point  early on in the novel I Googled 'Who Killed Amy, Gone Girl'. Those who have read the novel feel free to laugh at me now.
The Rating
4 out of 5 missing wives
The Next Book
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, a novel about two brothers growing up in India in the 1970's, a time a great political turbulence for India.
If anyone wants to read a much more intelligent review of Gone Girl that delves deeper into the concepts of identity, gender roles and reality read the Piratess's Tumblr post about Gone Girl. Piratess is 'the cool girl' without even trying.


  1. Great review Amelia....I want to read it now!

    1. Thanks! Always glad to inspire more people :)

  2. Try reading Liza Klaussmann's Tigers in Red Weather and compare Ed to Amy. Both are nutters. Klaussmann deals with time in an interesting way moving forwards and backwards though.

    1. How interesting! Amy was certainly crazy, but the most self aware character I have ever met/read. Sounds like an interesting read, I will add it to my 'to read' list! Thanks Carol!

  3. Amy scared the hell out of me! Apparently, the film will change the ending. I wonder what they'll do?

    1. She gave me the creeps! What an intense and unpredictable character! I read that too about the movie. I found myself hoping that the real truth would come out at the end of the novel, maybe that will happen?