There is enough hype surrounding this novel that has already come and gone that the world hardly needs yet another voice volunteering comment. Many who skipped over the book have probably seen Fincher's film by this point (BECAUSE THEY JUST LOVED GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO BLAAEEHEHRRG), so Gone Girl might be, to some, very much 'last year's news,' or even, '2012's news.'
That said, I picked up a like-new copy at a thrift store for fifty cents in December—at which time I knew very little about the story other than that it was some sort of mystery and had appeared on zillions of “Best of” lists in 2012—and felt compelled to give it a shot. I stepped into the story blessedly spoiler-free, more by glad happenstance than intention.
Frankly, I can be a bit of an ass when it comes to popular media. Simply put: if something (a book, a movie, an album, a TV show, etc.) gets huge attention and almost universal praise, I tend to stay away from it because: see previous sentence. Something strange clicks on in my brain when I see something heralded over and over, and I (arrogantly) assume that people only love said thing because it must be so watered down that it appeals to the lowest common denominator.
This Gaines fellow is a regular pompous asshole! Why is he telling me this in the middle of a Gone Girl review?
Anyway, all of the useless banter above was to lead to this: I absolutely loved Gone Girl, as much as one can love a story that is horrific in nature. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it's one of the strongest, most tightly-crafted pieces of writing I have read in a long time; a true 10 out of 10, in my opinion (not that ratings mean very much these days, or ever).
Apart from the fact that it has a number of sharp, unexpected turns that leave the reader sitting up in bed and exclaiming, “What the hell?!?” Gone Girl has a balanced measure of literary and crime thriller elements. The first third of the book is an affecting story of a marriage unraveling. Despite revelations later in the book regarding that section (Amy's diary being a sham), the falling apart of Nick and Amy felt authentic and heartbreaking. In the second section, everything changes when we find out not only is Amy alive, but she is not who we thought she was (meaning, she's one sinister bitch). Section three should not work for as zany as the story turns, but it does, and man oh man, does it hit hard.
Coming down to the last ten or fifteen pages of the book, I was racing down the lines on the page because I just had no idea how it would finish, and was so anxious to see if Amy got what she deserved. Nick is no saint, but by the end I was rooting for him, which is what makes the ending such a stinger. I am curious how many other readers across time and space shared my experience of closing this book and saying aloud, “Man, that is f*cked up.”
Gillian Flynn is a fantastic talent and I am glad she has been recognized in such a big way. I've been told by a few reader friends that her earlier works, Dark Places and Sharp Objects, are even more demented than Gone Girl. Sounds right up my alley.