There are two sides to every story . . . the tagline reminds us. Oh the intrigue! It’s not a mind-blowing proposition admittedly, but it is an apt description for Gone Girl and a sneaky reminder not to make assumptions about characters in thriller novels.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn begins on the morning of Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. He comes home to discover signs that a violent struggle has taken place and his lovely wife, Amy, is nowhere to be found. We soon discover Nick is self-absorbed, unfaithful and generally a Bad Husband. There are suspicious searches on his computer and strange purchases on his credit card bills. Neighbours claim Amy is frightened of him, the police say she tried to buy a gun. Nick swears none of it is true. But where has Amy gone?
Gone Girl appears to have a complicated plot with all the requisite twists and turns. But the true genius here is that it’s also highly consumable. It’s clever, yet simple. Things fall nicely into place without too much mental effort. This is actually quite nice because the only thing worse than an obvious thriller is a bizarre and totally mind boggling one, where twists have no discernible relationship with what you’ve read so far. Gone Girl is a book that is intended to appeal to a mass audience – the everyday reader, as the book club questions in the back will attest. In fact, it will soon be gracing cinemas, with David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club, Panic Room . . . ) to direct and the likes of Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris to score starring roles. Oh, and how could I forget? One of the models from the ‘Blurred Lines’ video.
This book is exactly the sort of story you could imagine on screen. It’s juicy, action-packed and fast-paced. For my part, I found there was a drop in suspense after a big reveal that occurs about halfway through. Nonetheless the twist is a pleasing one, overturning some deliberate clichés in Nick and Amy’s characterisation and revealing a refreshingly original take on the missing wife storyline. The conclusion will be highly unsatisfying or highly memorable or both – depending on the kind of reader you are.
As usual I like to keep my reviews spoiler-free. Let it be said that Gone Girl is not all it seems. With an Aussie summer coming slowly but surely, this is a great, easy read to tackle in a few lazy afternoons by the pool. So if you would like a readable thriller, or you would enjoy exuding a smug air of superiority when the film is released – get in quick! Read Gone Girl before everyone else does!