Gillian Flynn (Phoenix Fiction, 2013) ISBN: 978-0-7538-2766-6
I’d apologise for the title, but Gillian Flynn has got to have had that pun in mind as she wrote this much talked-about thriller. Centred on the disappearance of beautiful Amy Elliott Dunne and the increasing suspicion on her husband Nick, the story truly does beg the question, pun and all. The alternative title was even worse, so consider yourselves lucky.
Gone Girl is, despite its popularity, not something I would typically be drawn to. I wrote in my last review of my aversion to Midsomer Murders and I am sorry to report the taint has spread to cover pretty much the entire mystery genre. I’m not entirely sure why I dislike the genre so much, but I don’t enjoy reading mysteries or watching procedurals. Still, I’d heard many good things about Gone Girl before my mother, a fan of mystery novels and procedurals, said I should read it. The film adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, opened early last month and has achieved not insignificant box office success.
I am glad I gave the book a chance despite its genre, because it was a very good read. The rumours are true! It’s very addicting and well-written. It explores themes of marriage and familial relationships, as well as poverty and wealth, the problems of an old economy in its death throes and a new economy that is leaving entire classes of people behind. Like any good thriller, it plays with the reader’s expectations and manipulates the psychology of its characters just as much. I read it very quickly, by my standards, and even though I did guess what happened to Amy, that was not the last of the novel’s mysteries.
My only real complaint about it can’t probably be considered a complaint. It is that the book does feel very clinically paced. I could generally guess what was coming from where I was in the book. Half way through: curve-ball. Last quarter: things seem as bad as they could get. Perhaps it’s because I tend to read literary novels rather than genre that I noticed this so strongly in Gone Girl. Or, perhaps, it’s because when I do read genre fantasy, I don’t generally feel compelled to look forward and decipher what happened before the information is revealed. Perhaps I am just a very surface reader most of the time. I just wish I could have been more distracted by the story, enough that I would not notice the story stages as they clicked by.
If you haven’t read Gone Girl because you, like me, don’t like mystery novels, I would encourage you to give it a go. If you haven’t read Gone Girl for any other reason, I would encourage you to give it a go. In the very least, see the movie. Come and see it with me.