Never having read any of Gillian Flynn's other books, I wasn't sure what to expect from Gone Girl. The plot sounded intriguing enough, but a story about a missing woman and her murder suspect of a husband could also go horribly, Lifetime-movie wrong. But Flynn's story goes far beyond a schmaltzy made-for-tv plot. In fact, it takes the all-too-familiar story and turns it on its head.
Gone Girl is a story in three parts, each told from one of two perspectives. The first part sets the stage-a woman, Amy Dunne, is missing. Her husband Nick comes home to find the front door open and the house a wreck. He calls the police, and cooperates with their investigation until it becomes clear that he is the prime suspect in what the police have decided is a murder. The rest of the novel explores both Nick and Amy's marriage and the investigation-both Nick's and the police's-that twists and turns its way to a really strange and dark place.
I realize that this summary is a little light on detail. That's because this is apparently THE book of the summer, and I've decided not to ruin anything for anyone. The fact is, this is a book that really needs to be read to be believed. Flynn takes a rather cynical idea about marriage-that we pretend to be someone we're not when we meet our mate, only to be disappointed when we realize they aren't who they pretended to be either-and uses it as the basis for taking the reader to some dark and twisty places. I literally had almost no clue what might be coming next for most of the book, and that unpredictability kept me reading long past when I should have put the book down and, oh, I don't know, cooked dinner/mowed the lawn/SLEPT!
Flynn also achieves another uncommon feat. Even though I didn't like either of the main characters, or frankly most of the minor characters, I couldn't stop reading. This book is really just one long object lesson against selfishness. Every single character is selfish in some way, and it makes them pretty unattractive. But it became an ugly fascination for me. I couldn't believe some of the lengths to which the characters went to hurt each other and/or protect themselves from their own bad acts, but not in a bad "this books is ridiculously unbelievable and therefore unreadable" sort of way . The mental gymnastics necessary to justify their actions was pretty impressive. And you get to see a lot of mental gymnastics in this book-despite the fact that there is a lot of action, at least early on, the book really delves into the internal lives of the characters. Flynn has really created an engaging, un-put-downable piece of fiction!