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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Gillian Flynn

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7,611750447 (3.87)3 / 669
Title:Gone Girl
Authors:Gillian Flynn
Collections:Your library
Tags:Psychological Thriller

Work details

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

  1. 141
    Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (becksdakex)
  2. 10
    Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse (fannyprice)
  3. 10
    Faithful Place by Tana French (kathleen.morrow)
  4. 11
    The Other by Thomas Tryon (jen.e.moore)
    jen.e.moore: Tremendous works of psychological suspense and genuinely horrific crimes.
  5. 00
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: Similar marriage themes
  6. 01
    Consequences by Aleatha Romig (GirlMisanthrope)
    GirlMisanthrope: "Consequences" too has twists and turns, becomes sinister, while detailing an insane relationship. Cold, calculating, then a shocking ending.
  7. 37
    Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (claudiemae)
    claudiemae: I really enjoyed this book,my first read by this author. I got "Gone Girl,because i like how this author writes.But,I did not like "Gone Girl',really,was this written by Gillian Flynn? I was dissapointed,and hope she can do better with her next one,she does have talent.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 736 (next | show all)
A very well written novel, I could not put it down! I was very pleased with the screen adaptation as well. ( )
  anorred79 | Oct 20, 2014 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It's telling, I think, that when I was posting real-time comments about Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl to my friends at Facebook while I was reading it last week, I ended up remarking while still in the first half that the plot itself isn't really that clever, just basically a fictionalized version of the Scott Peterson affair from the early 2000s (in which an angelic suburban mom was found hacked up into pieces one day, and the more the media glare was laser-sighted on her husband, the more it was revealed what a scheming, soul-dead, sociopathic frat boy he really is). Because of course without revealing any spoilers today, it's impossible to see this book's surprise rise into "international phenomenon" status, including resulting smash Hollywood adaptation by the Oscar-winning David Fincher, without at least realizing that some awfully clever thing must happen somewhere in this pitch-black contemporary crime novel; and an awfully clever thing does eventually happen, and it's exactly as brilliantly evil as its reputation has it, and that's ultimately what's raised the book from "unusually well-done domestic thriller" territory into the DaVinci-Code-like level of popularity and influence it now has.

But as long as we're there in the first half and are still thinking that it's just a Scott Peterson story, we understand it as the best Scott Peterson-type story ever written, so much so that it wouldn't surprise us to find out that it had become such a huge runaway bestseller simply for its excellent character development, simply for its well-rounded look at all the principals involved and how each have both their good and bad sides which both come out in specific situations. And that in a nutshell is the genius of Flynn as a writer, and why her midlist low-profile crime thriller has blown up in a way that almost no other midlist low-profile crime thriller ever has; because she is a sophisticated, highly literary writer first and foremost, but unlike "literary novelists" who dabble in genre work, she is also obviously an unabashed fan of all the tropes that come with "ripped from the headlines" supermarket potboilers, giving us a book that highly satisfies the latter audience while also surprisingly impressing the former.

That's really the key to this book working, apart from any "gotchas" in the novel's admittedly very inventive storyline; it's because Flynn really sucks us into this world at first, and makes us if not entirely sympathetic to our narrator under suspicion, the charming yet put-upon Nick Dunne, at least understanding of the way his history, his family and his genetics makes him behave, inventing a crippling lack of self-confidence and an obsessive need to please others to explain his cold manner of fake-polite demeanor while in public, even while in the wake of a missing wife and under the scrutiny of a nation's worth of cameras. And there is the brilliant use of symbolism, too, a literary quality that's dropped in popularity since its heyday of late-1800s Europe, but deployed to such effective measure here: like the abandoned mall on the edge of town, for one good example, that used to employ the vast majority of the northern Missouri small city where Nick grew up (and where he and his wife now live, post-New-York and post-Great-Recession, yet another effective symbol), but that has become a menacing and mysterious haunted house since its closure and subsequent lack of demolition, becoming a dark and dangerous shantytown for meth-addicted unemployed workers that may or may not have played a major role in our hero Amy's disappearance. There are a dozen other examples like these that I could mention, traditional building blocks of "literary fiction" that Flynn gets so right here, and that gets us so emotionally invested in this story long before the big twists begin to happen -- from Amy's background as the true-life inspiration for a hit series of Young Adult books by her overprotective parents, featuring a Pollyannish version of her that can literally do no wrong, to the overblown scavenger hunts that Amy creates for each of their wedding anniversaries, which says so much about her and her obsessive need for grand projects taken too seriously, and says so much about him and his cool refusal to at least play along.

But like I said, though, Gone Girl does indeed have a major twist about halfway through -- and without saying anything about what it is, in general you can say that if the first half is a literary take on the Scott Peterson story, then the second half is a literary take on Lisa Nowak, the NASA astronaut who went bat-crap crazy in 2007 and tried to kill her husband's lover, by driving halfway across the country in the middle of the night with a trunk full of horror-show implements, and wearing adult diapers so she could just defecate in her pants and not have to stop the car. And that's a brilliant twist to add to a Scott Peterson-type story, because it calls into doubt everything we've read before -- suddenly we're not so immediately sure anymore just how much of a cad Nick actually is, and how much of his "guilt" is actually the result of a media frenzy spearheaded by a barely disguised Nancy Grace, which of course is one of the main points Flynn wants to make here. Ultimately the surprises in Gone Girl's second half act as much more than simple shocks designed to keep the reader engaged (although, brother, believe me when I say that they act as that as well); they're meant to comment on our modern society of digital finger-pointing, meant to comment on marriage and the impossibility of truly knowing someone 100 percent, meant to comment on gender and mental illness and the sociological effects of a prolonged period of national financial trouble.

Ultimately, though, perhaps the best way to define Gone Girl is simply as a highly effective contemporary noir, despite the lack of all the cliches from the classic '30s and '40s definition of the term; because when all is said and done, what this book is really about is two pretty horrible people, who held it together just long enough to fall in love, then reverted back to their horrible selves so thoroughly that eventually they both became devoted to the idea of destroying the other, an impulse just kept in check until the day they both finally lost their jobs and were forced to move to a town neither of them wanted to be in. Regardless of any more general issues of gender politics that Flynn might be addressing here (and to be clear, an entire Master's thesis could be written on the subsumed issues of gender politics seen in this novel), ultimately she's telling the story of two unusual and unique cases, two people whose irredeemable natures, cowardly spirits, and propensities for doing the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time make them almost textbook examples of great noir characters, and what makes noir a separate genre away from simply tales about crime or the "war between the sexes." When viewed in this light, Gone Girl is about as perfect as crime noirs get, which is why today's it's becoming our sixth review of 2014 to receive a perfect score of 10. It comes highly recommended to one and all, one of those proverbial "books to read this year if you only read one book this year."

Out of 10: 10 ( )
  jasonpettus | Oct 20, 2014 |
After much hype, I gave in and read Gone Girl. I was not disappointed. Until the end. No spoilers, but did anyone else feel this way, or am I alone? Not that it changes how I feel. Still, it's a damn good read. ( )
  tiddleyboom | Oct 19, 2014 |
Incredibly well written. A depressing story about the state of relationships. ( )
  Sandy.Burge | Oct 19, 2014 |
I’d been wanting to read this since it first came out, but when the previews for the movie came out, I knew I also wanted to see the movie, and I just had to read the book first. Because one should always read the book first. A friend head me talking about it and offered to loan me her copy, and I flew through the book in just a couple of days. Even though I had guessed whodunit before I even started to read it, I was still swept up in a heart-racing read.

There have been many reviews of Gone Girl, so I am going to try to focus my review in on why I personally loved it, and also address a couple of the controversies about the book. Any spoilers will be marked and covered toward the end of the review. Please note that this review is entirely about the book and does not address the movie at all.

The tone of the book sucked me in from the beginning. How the book alternates between Nick’s current life and Amy’s diary of the early years of their relationship clearly showed that the relationship started out strong and fell apart, and I wanted to see how something so romantic could have gone so awry. Amy’s diary entries simultaneously sound feminine and realistic. She swears to the same extent that my friends and I do, and I loved seeing that in romantic, feminine diary entries. Nick’s portions, in contrast, perfectly demonstrated the measured response to a disappearance that could easily happen if a relationship was on the rocks a bit at the time. Nick’s reactions felt very realistic to me, and I appreciated it.

Even though I predicted the whodunit, I still found the end of the book to be thrilling, as exactly how it happened was not something I was able to predict.

If you don’t want any spoilers and just want to know why you should read the book, let me just say that anyone who has been in a long-term relationship will find the complex relationship between Nick and Amy frightening and chilling and will be left giving their partner side-eye periodically throughout the book. If you like the idea of a book that makes you freaked out at the thought of how truly awry a relationship can go, then you will enjoy this thriller.

Please visit my full review, to view my spoiler-filled discussion of this book and some of the controversies about some of its content. ( )
1 vote gaialover | Oct 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 736 (next | show all)
...Gillian Flynn’s latest novel of psychological suspense will confound anyone trying to keep up with her quicksilver mind and diabolical rules of play. Not that there’s anything underhanded about her intentions: she promises to deliver an account of the troubled marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne, who alternate as narrators, and so she does. The trickery is in the devilish way she tells their story.
added by y2pk | editNew York Times, Marilyn Stasio (Jun 15, 2012)
Flynn writes bright, clever, cynical sentences. Maybe too many of them in Gone Girl. The same facts and ideas seem to repeat themselves. But that’s a minor gripe in a book that never slacks in tightening the suspense.

The basic questions the mystery asks are these: did the journalist husband murder his well-to-do missing wife or is she setting him up to pay a creepy price? On Flynn’s slick way to reaching the answer, she pulls the rug from under us readers three times. Or was it four?
added by VivienneR | editThe Toronto Star, Jack Batten (Jun 2, 2012)
This American author shook up the thriller scene in 2007 with her debut Sharp Objects, nasty and utterly memorable. Gone Girl, her third novel, is even better – an early contender for thriller of the year and an absolute must read.
added by Milesc | editThe Observer, Alison Flood (May 20, 2012)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Flynn, Gillianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Love is the world's infinite mutability: Lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.

           Tony Kushner, THE ILLUSION
To Brett: light of my life, senior and
Flynn: light of my life, junior
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When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Golden boy Nick Dunne, brings his socialite wife, Amy, back to live in his hometown on the Mississippi River. She is miserable and on their fifth wedding anniversary she disappears. Soon Nick finds himself lying,  and acting inappropriately but continues to claim his innocence with his twin sister at his side.
Haiku summary
Lies disguised as truth/Is she dead or simply gone?/Ask Punch and Judy. (BrileyOC)

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On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick's wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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