Thursday 23 October 2014

#CBR6 Book 108: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Page count: 466 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Nick Dunne's beautiful wife Amy disappears on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. Through diary entries from Amy's diaries, the readers see how the couple met and fell in love, when they were both magazine writers in New York. Two layoffs and a move back to Nick's hometown in Missouri later, taking care of his ailing parents, and things are no longer so idyllic. The last two years of their marriage have clearly not been all that great and Nick quickly becomes the police's prime suspect. While the early years of their marriage were great, it's obvious that Nick hasn't exactly been the model husband, and the suspicious members of the local community, the police and the media are all too ready to believe he had something to do with Amy's disappearance. Maybe he even murdered her?

Her diaries show that she was growing fearful of him. Friends Nick didn't even realise she had claims that she was afraid of him. She tried to buy a gun without his knowledge. And now she is gone without a trace. What exactly did happen to Amy Dunne?

I don't want to say too much in my synopsis, because the whole point of this book is that it is so much better if you don't know exactly what is coming. Considering pretty much everyone in the known world had read it before me, and many of those have reviewed it either this year or last year for Cannonball Read, there are both spoilery and non-spoilery reviews out there if you want them. All I knew about the book was that it was best not to know too much about it, there was a twist in there, and that it was wildly hyped all over the place. Since David Fincher decided to adapt the novel, which was opening in cinemas at the start of October, I wanted to have read the book before the film came out. I figured it was going to be a lot harder to remain unspoiled afterwards (I was right).

I really wasn't thrilled with the book or the characters for the first third, but kept reading, convinced that so many people couldn't be raving about this book if it was just going to be about the musings of some schlubby Midwestern bar owner, interspersed with the diary entries of his highly strung, a bit snooty wife. I was right. Little over a third of the way in, the narrative suddenly changes and things suddenly get a whole lot more interesting. The reader sees Amy and Nick in a wholly different light and I went from forcing myself to keep reading to not wanting to put the book down. I read the last half of the book in pretty much one long sitting, neglecting my correction work and household chores, just to see where the book was going to go next. I'm not going to go so far as to say I liked any of the characters. I don't think that's what Gillian Flynn is aiming for. With the possible exception of the detective Boney, who is investigating Amy's disappearance and Nick's sister Margo, I think pretty much all the people in this book are deeply dislikable and are meant to be.

Having read the book, I also went and saw the movie adaptation. I think it's one of those rare cases where the film is actually even better than the book. I can't deny that having seen the trailer for the film before I read the book, my mental casting of Nick and Amy was pretty much Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. But that's because the film is impeccably cast. Fincher is a great director and the film was extremely entertaining. Flynn herself adapted the novel into a screenplay, and it allowed her to take some of the bits that dragged in the book and make them more streamlined for the film. I liked the book, I loved the film. So while I wouldn't normally say this - see the movie first. If you like it, you can always read the book afterwards to see which bits were different. 

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