Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review: Gone Girl

The phrase ‘throwing stones in a glass house’ often crops up in my mind when I review books.  In many cases I am impressed, floored that someone can get a book through the rigorous process of being published.  In a lot more cases, I scratch my head and wonder how a book got through so many edits and how so many people fell in love with it when I didn’t like anything about it.  In this case, that was the point.  It took 400 pages for me to realise that I’m supposed to hate the characters in all their self-indulgence and egotism.

The novel Gone Girl is not the first novel Gillian Flynn has published and the polish on this novel shows that.  From the very first page I hated her main characters.  Nick was the quintessential frat boy type, the one you expect to read about in Rolling Stone, but couldn’t get into UVA.  Amy is amazingly naïve and yet brilliant in her psychosis.  Her parents, as Nick states, created a monster.  The story unfolds in dramatic fashion as Amy goes missing and Nick quickly becomes the main suspect based on clues Amy has left to frame him.  The extent to which she commits herself to her task is impossible to believe, thus breaking the first wall of disbelief for me.  I also found the ending utterly implausible.  I can’t imagine a person like Amy, or Nick for that matter, not being held responsible for their reprehensible behaviour.  In Nick’s defence, if I can even stomach saying that, the worst he did was cheat on his wife.  Amy, on the other hand, is quite the practiced manipulator.  I still struggle to understand how she learned how to behave this way and commit to it so flawlessly.

The story is intriguing, it keeps the reader guessing throughout.  While the movie cast the role of Nick perfectly (I’ve never known a human being to look more arrogant than Ben Affleck), I’m not sold on Rosamond Pike.  She doesn’t seem nearly as insane as Amy, but then again, Amy hid her madness with ease.

This is one of those books I found maddening to read.  I hate Nick from the beginning.  I hated Amy almost from her first diary entry.  Both were insufferable know-it-alls and I felt like they deserved a much harsher fate than being stuck with one another for the rest of their lives.  I struggled to not be disgusted with Ms. Flynn’s style of writing.  The book is written from the first-person perspective and while both characters are former journalists, the writing is beyond pretentious.  Every sentence drips of Ms. Flynn being enamoured with her own writing, not just the characters’ self-love.   Each new page was a new exercise in forcing myself to read this book, to see how she made it a best seller.  I’m still not sure. 

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