Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I will have to say one thing for sure–this book is hard to put down. It kept me interested, to say the least. It was so sick and twisted–I was like a rubbernecker, I couldn’t look away. There are several big surprises, and I’m finding it impossible to write about the book at all without including spoilers. So you’ve been warned.
It was absolutely chilling to watch a marriage go from perfect to adulterous to mutually murderous to coerced. I found myself agreeing with some of Amy’s diatribes, especially her rant about the ‘cool girl.’ And that taught me something kind of scary about myself. Because as horrifying a monster as she undoubtedly is, there is a sense that Amy is a product of her family and her society. The kernel of truth in her nastiest, most cynical pronouncements about men and relationships comes from real inequality that I’ve experienced just as much as Amy has, and so I could have the same horrible, self-righteous urges she has.
Amy’s capacity to scheme and plot and cold-bloodedly execute her plan makes her the smartest villain I’ve read about in a while. She’s right that this is why she succeeds where others fail. A good plot like the one she concocts does need months and months of preparation and groundwork, and very few people would have the chilly resolve necessary. Her plan was truly masterful, and even after a few last-minute changes. My favorite touch was the clues that could be read in two ways by two audiences, Nick and the cops. She wins in the end, but Nick is able to redeem himself through regaining a sense of his own goodness. And Amy’s victory is hollow, of course. It seems like Nick might even be able to love her again someday, but she will always know that she forced that love out of him. Though it seems like sincere affection matters less to her than her definition of ‘winning.’ I liked the complexity of this ending.
Though by the end he’s clearly the ‘good guy,’ Nick is a jerk, to be as nice about it as possible. Once he revealed his affair, I had a hard time sympathizing with him. From beginning to end, I never felt like I saw quite enough sincere contrition from him, but only attempts to save his own hide through faking remorse. He was honest about how sleazy his affair was, and how cowardly it was as a marriage exit plan, but he still acted entitled to it. When I heard Ben Affleck was playing him in the movie, I thought that was inspired casting, entirely appropriate based on the description–a guy so good-looking you just know he’s a smug asshole.
I would have appreciated it if one character had spoken up and said how horrible it is for a woman to fake being raped, how disrespectful it is toward real rape victims who have to deal with people doubting their charges for this very reason. Or if Amy had noted that she had to make a point of fabricating incontrovertible physical evidence because she knows how much scrutiny rape victims face. Something to put her actual faked rape in the context of real rape victims constantly being accused of making up their trauma.