Flynn, G. (2012). Gone girl. New York: Crown.
Hardcover $25.00, Paperback $15.00, Kindle $8.99, 416 pages or 19 hours via audiobook
Author’s Website and Interviews:
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/books/gone-girl-by-gillian-flynn.html?_r=0
Annotation: Nick knows their annual treasure hunt is not what it seems as each clue brings him one step closer to a shocking truth.
Summary (WARNING-SPOILER ALERT): After both Nick Dunne and his wife Amy lose their jobs as writers, they move from New York City back to his hometown of North Carthage, Missouri after he learns his mother is gravely ill. He uses $80,000 from his wife’s trust fund to open The Bar with his twin sister Margo as a means of supporting his family. Amy is the daughter of well-known authors who capitalized from their Amazing Amy books, a series modeled after their daughter. Amy is used to a life of privilege and struggles with their new move as she begins to feel isolated and the strain of her marriage begins to weigh heavily on her. Amy documents her life pre and post Nick in her diary which often reveals harsh “truth” or rather we learn “untruths” about herself and her life. On the couple’s fiver year wedding anniversary, Nick discovers his wife is missing and comes home to a house that looks as if it has been ransacked. Throughout much of the first part of the book which is told in first person narrative, Nick attempts to clear his name as he is seen as the number one suspect in her disappearance. It is later revealed that Nick has been having an affair with one of his young student’s, Andie who he admits he has fallen in love with. The day of their anniversary, Nick had been planning on revealing to Amy that he no longer loved her and wanted a divorce. In the second half of the book, narration is set in present day and we learn that Amy is very much alive and in hiding at a cabin in the Ozarks. It is revealed that Amy knew all along about Nick’s affair and that the diary she penned in the first half of the book was pure fabrication to make herself likeable and to make Nick look like a cold-hearted monster. She frames him for her “murder” and uses their annual treasure hunt to reveal her twisted scheme to him.
Evaluation: I really enjoyed this book! I thought everything about this book was good except for the ending. The writing was excellent, very descriptive, suspenseful, and helped to paint a vivid picture of Amy and Nick’s marriage. I enjoyed that the book was fast-paced and there were twists and turns throughout that I never saw coming. It was thriller writing at its best as it worked to talk around and hint at secrets yet never fully revealed them until the right moment and them, BAM, you were hit in the face with one explosive shocking reveal after another. Flynn’s writing really captures the essence of marital discord and its impact on both Amy and Nick over the course of their marriage. I loved that the book left me shaking my head and wondering what the heck I just read. I definitely had more questions and answers but that just added to the suspense and thrill of it.
I listened to the first half (9 hours) of the audiobook version which was read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne. Right away I did not like the male narrator’s voice and found it quite irritating. I didn’t think he was a great fit for Nick’s character and it was distracting at times. His pace was very slow at times and I found myself wanting to hurry him along. He sounded very theatrical at some points and tended to over enunciate his words making it sound very fake. However, I thought Julia Whelan did a great job as narrator and she really brought Amy’s character to life. I preferred to read this book rather than listen to it as an audiobook because I was able to move at my own pace and imagine the character’s voices in my head the way I thought they should sound. I always find audiobooks a bit distracting and usually can only listen to them as I read along with the book .
Genre: Thriller (Psychological)
Appeal Factors: Intricately plotted, character-driven, fast-paced, bleak, disturbing, suspenseful, compelling, and sharp-witted
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
- Let the Dark Flower Blossom, by Norah Labiner
- Before I Go To Sleep, by S. J. Watson
- The Burning Air, by Erin Kelly
Awards: 2012-Good Reads Choice Awards, 2012-Library Journal Best Books, 2012-Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award-Best Mystery & Suspense
- Use a cliffhanger to grab the reader’s/audience attention by reading a passage about Nick and the last clue of the 5th anniversary treasure hunt.
- Talk about and around a secret but don’t reveal it right away. For example, Amy’s big reveal in her first diary entry in part 2.
Book Discussion Questions:
- Do you sympathize with either Amy or Nick’s character? Do you feel either were justified in their actions throughout the book?
- Did you believe Amy character’s/diary entries in the first part of the book were true? Were there any parts that raised a red flag and made you begin to question her story?
- What is Amy’s true relationship with her parents? Thoughts on the Amazing Amy series? Can this be seen as one of the motivations of her actions?
- Who do you think is the bigger liar, Amy or Nick? Are the lies told in the story justifiable? Do you think Amy and Nick have changed by the end of the book? How so?
- Were you shocked when the truth about Amy’s past with Desi, Hillary Handy, and Tommy was revealed? What did this reveal about her as a character?
This book was selected by my classmate’s for a book discussion but I had heard of it prior to that. The fact that it was a “psychological thriller” intrigued me and I was curious to know what the title of the book referred to. I read numerous reviews before I started reading it and everyone seemed to rave about it. I haven’t read very many thriller novels so I was curious to see what twists and turns both the plot and the characters took as the book progressed.