“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn is a class act. Class act because on the one hand, it is a crime novel around a dysfunctional marriage between Nick and Amy; on the other, the novel deals with the sociological and psychological repercussions of the economic recession that has a bearing on both the protagonists.
So, how many times have you come across a crime novel dealing with the sociology of marriage? Not many, I guess. However, the book remains rooted in a true crime fiction genre. It will keep you awake till the dawn with its subtle plot twists, unreliable, but engrossing narrations, but primarily because of the immensely disturbing manipulations of the wife and husband to outwit each other. The manipulation between Nick and Amy is so deliberate and alarming that, at one point, you actually start questioning the institution of marriage.
The plot of the novel is such that least said is better. Even the slightest carelessness on my part can spoil your party of reading “Gone Girl”. So just a sneak view of the plot: On the fifth anniversary of Amy Dunne and Nick Dunne, Amy suddenly disappears. As it happens in most such cases, Nick turns out to be the main suspect, in fact, the only suspect! Every clue and witness is pointing towards his incriminating involvement in Amy’s disappearance. And what does not help further is that he lies through most part of the investigation. So, did Nick kill his wife? Why is he lying to the investigators if he wants his name out of this mess? Does Amy deserve such treatment from her husband, whom she loved or who loved her so much in the past? Where did she vanish all of sudden? Above all, what ultimately happens to Amy Dunne? These are the questions whose answer you are going to find in “Gone Girl”.
The plot seems cliché; the usual noir stuff; you might have read or heard it hundreds of times. But, wait! This is not the end! The twists in the novel are so astonishing and incidences so inhuman – though not brutal or gory- that many a time you are left numb and dumbfounded. On top of it, the narration of the novel is the real hero, to say the least. The story is told by Nick and Amy in alternate chapters. This presents an opportunity for you to understand the same events from two different perspectives so that you can choose sides. Though, I would caution you against taking any side as it is fraught with the risk of being deceived at any point. If you leave the unreliable narration of the protagonists, then you are left with nothing but real class.
Writing of extraordinary intelligence, in-depth depiction of both innocent as well as malicious emotions, taking the reader through an emotional roller coaster ride, dropping suspicions at the right time, resolving as well as confounding conflicts, etc. are some of the things that will keep your hand holding the book and your head spinning. You get a generous dose of amazement all through. The only thing that bothered me a little is the use of local slang that is common to America but not beyond its border, but that is not a deterrent though.
Nick Dunne is a charming, good-looking guy with a bit of laid-back attitude. He works as a writer and was brought up in North Carthage, Missouri. Amy Dunne is a New York upscale brat born to a rich family. Her parents are the authors of the highly successful Amazing Amy, her namesake book series. She is beautiful, brash, proud and is a girl who wants control of everything. There is a class difference between them yet they meet, make love, fall in love, get married, and enjoy the first couple of years as a made-for-each-other-couple. Then all of a sudden, both of them lose their job to the economic recession. Nick takes Amy to his hometown Missouri which is not as urbane as New York. The concealed social and behavioural differences of the couple come to the surface too soon. Thus, there comes trouble in their paradise. A series of manipulations, allegations, accusations, deceit, inappropriate behaviour starts brewing between them. And what befuddles you in between all this is that you cannot pinpoint who is the culprit in the crime.
The narration of the events is so ingeniously woven by Flynn that you will be at your wit’s end to ascertain whose fault is it actually. And this is the real beauty of the novel that will keep you hooked. Gillian Flynn is a real winner here with an intricate plot; intelligent and jaw-dropping twists; and realistic characterisation. She is definitely a writer who packs enough punch.
So, if you get hold of this book, just devour it. It is a dark, funny, intricately plotted and intelligently written fast-paced novel with enough twists and turns making it absolutely unputdownable stuff.