Going Going....GONE GIRL: My Take
a few weeks afer finishing the book
You might be wondering why I’m writing in diary mode. Actually, I thought I’d try one of Gillian Flynn’s own narrative devces to review her best-selling book, Gone Girl, but I find that I’m having some issues with this approach. For one thing, I’m not sure how realistic it is to read diary entries that not only are written in complete sentences but also sport perfect punctuation, grammar, spelling, and word choice. ( When one makes a diary entry, he/she usually is prompted by strong emotions rather than a desire to please that cranky old grammarian he/she had as an English teacher back in the seventh grade.) Also, diary entries usually “tell it like it is” and certainly aren’t intended to be shared. That doesn’t apply to the diary that appears in Gone Girl, however, as you well know if you've read the book.)
Well then, Diary, I guess I’ll give it a shot.
So.....during much of the time I was reading this book, I had to remind myself that it had been #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for an impressive amount of time and, indeed, continues to maintain a prime spot in the Top Ten. Please don’t misunderstand me. The plot (perhaps more of a “situation” than a plot) of Gone Girl is very cleverly orchestrated.... something along the lines of “perfect sociopath plans perfect crime in order to entrap perfect jerk.” In this case, however, the adjective “perfect,” when used to modify those particular nouns, only serves to make each an oxymoron. Herein, then, lies my major problem with the novel: I found it next to impossible to maintain interest in main characters for whom I felt little sympathy, let alone empathy.
Moving Right Along....
The novel’s two main characters are Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy Elliott Dunne, the “girl” to whom the title refers. Nick and Amy are two thirty-somethings who become less likable as the book progresses through alternating first-person narrative and diary format. There are three “Parts” to the story: “ Boy Loses Girl,” “Boy Meets Girl,” and “Boy Gets Girl Back (Or Vice Versa).” In Part I, the reader learns that Nick has returned home one day to find his living room in disarray and his wife gone, as in “missing.” Nick’s narrative fills in lots of background information, such how the couple ended up moving to his hometown in Missouri after losing their yuppie-type jobs in Brooklyn .(He worked for a magazine; Amy made up those quizzes you find in magazines, e.g., “What kind of Mommy are you?”) It soon becomes clear that Amy did not see the move as a good thing, nor did she seem overly supportive of her husband opening a bar with his twin, Margo, or “Go,” as Nick affectionately refers to her. (Okay, Diary, I admit it. That “Go” business just seemed too cutesy for me.) What else could he do, right? I mean, Nick had to make a living, and anyway, his mother was dying and his woman-hating father ( another non-sympathetic character) wasn’t in good shape, either.
Back to the Old Homestead
Of course,Diary, the move couldn’t have been easy on Amy, either, particularly since it putmany miles between her parents and their only child. (Her parents: now they would make an interesting character study. Despite the fact that together they had written a series of incredibly popular and fiscally succcessfully children’s books titled Amazing Amy after their daughter, they come through as aging lovebirds who coo and care far more for one another than they do for Amy herself. Freud would have a field day with that family.) In addition to Narcissistic Nick, Absent /Angry Amy and her bizarre parents, there are more characters for whom I couldn’t manage to summon much sympathy. For example, Airhead Andie, Nick’s student aka girlfriend, was credible and certainly pitiful though not exactly lovable, nor was Delusional Desi, Amy’s former boyfirend who was chillingly obsessed with her. A few of the minor characters, particularly Rhonda Boney, one of the detectives assigned to the case, were far more sympathetic than either of the main characters and quite a few of the other supporting cast members.
As I was Saying....
Like most mystery novels, Gone Girl drops its share of hints as the plot unfolds. One of these hints (or clues) appears when the Dunn’s neighbor, Noelle, steps up during a press conference and announces that she is (was?) Amy’s best friend. Nick is puzzled by Noelle’s claim, especially since, as far as he knows, Amy doesn’t (didn’t ?) even like Noelle. Other clues come to light when figures from Amy’s past appear.... but I don’t want to be accused of giving away the ending....
... And there lies one of the book’s major problems: the ending. As the story continues, the plot, as they say, thickens.... until,finally, it congeals, leaving the reader (at least this reader)....well, cold. Several people who read the book before I did had warned , “I loved the book but hated the ending.” The fact is, as far as I’m concerned, there is no ending, unless: 1) the reader cares enough to draw his/her own educated guess or 2) the reader is a fan of Groundhog Day.
In all fairness, I am well aware of the fact that many readers do not share my assessment of the book. (The New York Times Best Seller list, among others, bares witness to that fact.) I do feel that the plot certainly serves as a testament to Ms. Flynn’s creativity, and the writing itself indicates a talented novelist who knows her craft. As a mystery/suspense thirller, however, I found the book leaning more towards “tedious” and less towards “thrilling.” When I turned the last page and found that there was no more, I had the empty feeling that the book was not over, but....well, Gone.