So I’ve just finished listening to Gone Girl. One of the most talked about books in recent times – and also just longlisted for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction (The Price formerly known as the Orange Prize). It’s one of those must-read books, but not so hyped that it scares people away, I think. So I was excited to listen to this one – and it’s a perfect book to listen to.
Nick and Amy Dunn have been married for 5 years when Amy suddenly disappears. They have been madly in love, complementing each other perfectly but after they both loose their jobs and they had to leave New York to move to the Midwest to take care of Nick’s dad suffering from Alzheimers and Nick’s mom who has been diagnosed with cancer, things have been spiraling downhill. So on the morning of their 5 years anniversary, Amy is gone. The house shows signs of a struggle and it seems clear that someone has taken Amy against her will.
As is typical in such cases, the police rather soon zooms in on Nick. It’s always the husband, isn’t it? Especially when the husband turns out to be a liar. But even though he tells us that he lies, he comes across as somewhat sympathetic.
The book shifts between Nick’s point of view at the day of her disappearance and the days after and Amy’s from the time they met each other, 5 years ago, taken from her diary. So we get to know Amy from her own words. It is clear from the diary that their relationship means a lot to Amy and that he disappoints her by not remembering details from their relationships; details, which she uses to create a treasure hunt for him each year on their anniversary.
Of course Amy has made a treasure hunt for Nick again this year and for once, Amy has made a treasure hunt where it’s actually possible for Nick to understand the hints; a treasure hunt, where it seems that Amy is doing her best to rekindle her and Nick’s relationship. But it all seems to late – both because she is missing and because of Nick’s lack of feelings for her.
Everything seem to point to Nick as responsible for Amy’s disappearance. He seems to incriminate himself in the things he says to the readers/listeners. Things like ‘I would do anything to feel real again.’ He says this after he has talked about how his generation never discovers anything for the first time. Maybe he wanted to do something to Amy to feel real for once? It is clear from both his story and from Amy’s, especially as they leave New York and she starts feeling like a non-person, like property that has to be packed and unpacked, that she could just disappear, and that Nick is supposed to be the one we blame for Amy’s disappearance. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve heard a lot about this book before listening to it, but this felt too easy for me so I constantly listen after things in Amy’s story that would show that this wasn’t so.
What makes this book’s rather simple plot – girl goes missing, husband is blamed – interesting, is the way it’s told. In alternate chapters, Nick and Amy each get to talk and tell their sides. In the first part, Nick tells the present where Amy has gone missing, Amy tells the past, their story – how they met, how they came to leave New York, how their relationship started growing sour. It’s a he said, she said kind of story and this is a really clever idea by the author. It’s one of those books where the form makes the matter so much better. The reader stands in the middle of a relationship going down hill and gets to decide for him/herself who to believe – and, more importantly probably, who to blame. This really works!
The book is broken into three parts. I’m not going to talk about the later parts of the book because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody else. Because it is a thrilling read. While listening to it, I really had trouble stopping. I just wanted to keep on listening. Still, I had major problems with it. I was particularly impressed with the first part of it where I was still guessing. Later on, it turns out that I wasn’t correct in everything but in some of it. And I never get these things right. As I progressed in the book, it started feeling a bit too long and also to get a bit repetitive. Also, I had issues with Amy’s behavior at points. It simply didn’t feel convincing to me.
I admit that I enjoyed listening to it but my probably biggest issue with it was, that when I had finished it, I just didn’t care anymore. While reading it, I was already beginning to loose interest a bit. I didn’t find the end satisfying and when I was done with it, the characters and their issues just didn’t stay with me.
- Title: Gone Girl
- Author: Gillian Flynn
- Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson
- Year: 2012
- Pages: 419 pages
- Narrated by: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
- Source: Own Collection (Audible)
- Stars: 3 stars out of 5