Gone Girl

Usually, I am one who shies away from the books that everyone else is reading for no other reason than the fact that my to-be-read pile is so high any book I pick up to read that had a run at the best seller list is already out in paperback, has a movie version come and gone from the theaters and is now discussed with the tag phrase, “Oh, yeah, I was always going to read that.”

So even I am surprised that my big summer read was the very current and very popular novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl.

Please remember one thing:  I like to be irritated by a good book (emphasis on good).  What do I mean by that?  One of the most irritating things to me ( in a good way) is an unreliable narrator.  Another favorite irritating thing to me is confusing shifts in time.

Gone Girl has these two elements and more.  The basic plot revolves around one of the book’s narrators, Nick Dunne.  Nick is married to “Amazing Amy” Elliott Dunne who is the book’s second narrator through her diary entries.  Amy is amazing because her parent’s defined her so be getting rich writing a series of children’s books loosely based on their daughter and starring the very popular character, Amazing Amy.

Unfortunately, Nick and Amy’s life together is not that amazing, as each of them loses their New York City writing jobs in the recession.  Nick decides to take his bride Amy back to his home state of Missouri where his mother is dying of cancer, his father has Alzheimer’s, and he decides to use Amy’s inheritance to open The Bar with his twin sister.  None of this makes for a happy marriage.

On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick arrives home to find Amy missing and the book really begins to take off. To say anymore of the plot would be unfair to future readers but let me just say that the two elements that irritate me (in a good way) are in full force here.

The book brings to mind other unreliable characters like Marty Kalish in Line of Vision by David Ellis, Olvie Martin in Minette Walter’s The Sculptress or Tom Ripley from the series of books by Patricia Highsmith.

The book also shares a little something with a book like Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane where in the reader is constantly asking themselves, “What book am I really reading?”

I think book discussion groups will love discussing this one even if they are irritated by the book—because in a way, that is the whole point.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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