For the last few months, I’ve seen Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl lauded in lists of the best books of the last few years. I’ve seen the buzz about the movie adaptation due out later this year and that Flynn, who is writing the screenplay for that film, is rewriting the big twist ending so that the film will be able to surprise even those who have read the book. I was intrigued and the waitlist for the library also promised a highly regarded page-turner. And while it was undeniably well written, I was ultimately underwhelmed.
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, vanishes from their home. In the days that follow, evidence piles up which points to Nick having murdered and disposed of Amy. Told from both Amy and Nick’s perspectives and jumping back and forth in time, Gone Girl becomes an examination of our true-crime obsessed and media driven culture.
Broken into three parts, I found the first two were too long and drawn out for my taste. It was all very well written. The voices of Nick and Amy were distinctive and realistic. But the twists that drive the plot are predictable to anyone who has seen more than just a handful of episodes of any of the Law & Order franchises (and given how many episodes of each there are and how frequently they’re on in reruns, who hasn’t?). After a while, it began to feel like an episode of Law & Order; one of those episodes where you are pretty sure you remember the plot but you might be mixing it up with another episode with a similar plot, so you keep watching to make sure you’re remembering the right one.
I found neither Nick nor Amy to be particularly compelling or sympathetic characters. In fact, I can’t really say that there was any character in the novel that I felt a connection to. Without being able to latch on to any character, it became very difficult to care about the plot and where things were going, distorting the length of the novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel was definitely the way the case unfolds to the public. The way the media spins the story, the way the lawyers and cops each try to spin the story, and the way the public eats it up; the vicious cycle that breeds sensationalism in this age of twenty-four hour cable news networks.
Amidst the buzz I’d heard that inspired me to read this novel was the talk pertaining to the film adaptation due out later this year, specifically Gillian Flynn’s involvement in writing the screenplay and her decision to alter the “big twist” at the end of the novel. Undecided about whether I wanted to see the movie when it comes out, I wanted to learn what the original “twist” was. I’m not entirely convinced it was worth how long it took to get there. It was good but it wasn’t great and after that long, I needed it to be great. As far as the movie goes, I’ll probably wait till the DVD’s available to rent. Or maybe, I’ll just watch a few reruns of Law & Order.