For nearly a year I avoided reading 'Gone Girl'. After my Tom Perrotta bing a few years ago I went on an unattended contemporary fiction fast. I chose...moreFor nearly a year I avoided reading 'Gone Girl'. After my Tom Perrotta bing a few years ago I went on an unattended contemporary fiction fast. I chose to either read genre fiction (e.g. 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series) or re-read the books already in my collection (e.g. 'A Handmaid's Tale'). Then, when I went back to school, course work dominated my reading time.
Now, before I get to what I thought of the book, it's also important for me to note that I am a very voracious, but picky reader. I generally don't just read a book because someone recommends it to me. I did that once and that's how I ended up reading 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven'. So I'm pretty stringent in what reading suggestions I take.
The first time I heard someone recommend this book was on the NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. Linda Holmes, who seems to be just as discerning in her reading as I am, talked about how she bought the book at an airport newsstand and couldn't put it down until a couple of days later. Well, that definitely caught my attention.
I made a mental note to check out the book description the next chance I got, but when I looked it up there wasn't much to go by by my standards. What made this different from your standard subway thriller churned out in a few months? Why would I be induced to read this book based on the reviewer quotes cited on Amazon? Did I bother to read any of those reviews?
Two points to you if you guessed no.
I had a good reason: I didn't want the twist to be spoiled. And, frankly, some book reviews seem to be written by people who have forgotten the cardinal rule of book reports: DON'T GIVE AWAY THE ENDING.
Which leads me to the story itself...
Nick and Amy are the main characters and they have been married for five years. In fact the book begins on their fifth wedding anniversary. Then Amy goes missing, Nick soon becomes the main suspect in her disappearance, and the mystery tropes are dutifully gone through. We get the extramarital affair, marital secrets, doubting detectives, and a seeming wild goose chase. In the end, I believe, it's not the plot that makes 'Gone Girl' a very good book; it's the characters that make the book.
Nick and Amy are no Nick and Nora -- they are not likable characters who will live eternally in readers' imagination for years to come. No, they are excellent characters because they capture the dual personalities of too many people in this country, if not the world. You know these people. They're the ones who present one identity to the world and hide the other, afraid to show it because it will change the way others look at them. For Nick, he wants to be the nice guy so this is what he sows the world; but in truth he's a coward just people pleasing. Amy is the golden child, the angel, the martyr; but underneath her act is, as the English would say, a right cunt.
Even the minor characters have the opportunity to show both sides of their coins. The naive college student who is loving one day and scorned lover the next; the veteran detective who sees what these characters are up but ignores her instincts anyway; and the seemingly standard-issue jealous ex.
Even though I quite enjoyed the book, I am only giving the book four stars. Yes, the writing was sharp and the characters well-developed, but the plot became too predictable after a while. That's not to say that I figured out what was going to happen next (although I did guess right about what Amy did with that wine bottle), but that it became predictable when the plot twists were going to come. "Here's a little twist." "Here's a big twist!" "Here's a medium-big twist." I know this is the thing thrillers do, but give me better pacing at least.
In conclusion, I do recommend this book. It is a great lazy weekend read.(less)