Gone Girl hit the shelves in June of 2012.
As I write, Flynn’s novel is in week twenty-four on the New York Times Bestseller List. Until I cracked the spine on this book last week, I was oblivious to its popularity. Sure, I saw the title around town as they say, but I knew nothing about it. I liked the title, but nothing about it said read me. In fact, because I sensed its popularity I wanted to stay away. I never like to read what everyone else is reading, especially if it’s a hot property. Then a dear friend who is also a book addict told me the subject matter of Gone Girl was so disturbing she had vowed not to read it. I purchased the book the following day.
I still knew nothing about the story and didn’t have the slightest inkling about what the title meant. I chose not to read the jacket flap or the endorsements on the back of the book. All I did was open to page one and read. This is my advice to you. Let Gone Girl be a literary surprise the way The Sixth Sense surprised film audiences.
Gone Girl opens with a calm, pensive phrase, “When I think of my wife…” but nothing about this novel is calm. An undercurrent of tension is crocheted to each word and from that simple opening, I knew I would bare witness to the train wreck that was about to destroy Nick and Amy Dunne.
I also was certain that Flynn’s novel was a story with power enough to infiltrate every waking moment of my life. I crave this kind of reading experience. It is what I hope for each time I select a book. However, sometimes I need to engage caution, otherwise essential and important events in my actual life will be neglected. So, as soon as I opened GG I gave myself a two-chapter limit. It was an excruciating exercise and impossible to keep because Gillian Flynn is a no holds barred writer who pummels the reader until nothing else can be done except surrender.
The magnificence of Gone Girl lies in Flynn’s ability to shine a spotlight on a couple who could be your neighbors, people you wouldn’t think twice about. Then she microscopes into their lives, burrows under their skin and reveals all. Nothing is whitewashed. The characters never hold back and as a result I was often saying, “Yes, I know. I understand. I’ve been there.” I believe other readers are saying the same. There is a bit of Amy and Nick in all of us. Not something we want to confess, but it is one of the reasons Flynn’s characters are able to drag us into their world with such ease.
As for the ending…
The closer I came to the finish line, the faster my mind scrambled to discover all the possible endings. I considered what events would make me happy or unhappy as a reader, and examined where I might take the characters if I’d been fortunate enough as a writer to invent such a premise.
Then within the last twenty minutes of reading I understood what was going to transpire. I wasn’t thrilled, but I couldn’t let go, couldn’t stop hoping for yet another Gillian Flynn jaw-dropping twist (I believe she has a patent on them).
It is an ending I will ponder for years because as unsettling as it is, as a writer, I cannot argue with the inevitability of the events and am in awe of Flynn’s ability to choose wisely. If I could be granted three wishes, one of them would be to reside in Gillian Flynn’s mind while she writes her next novel.
Gone Girl turns the word safe into a four-letter word for terror. A disturbing ride you won’t want to miss.
Disappear from your life with Gone Girl.