Cannonball Read IV: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I've read a lot of scary and disturbing books over the years. Lots of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Joe Hill, Battle Royale-esque stories, etc. And I keep going back for more. I've seen -- and have enjoyed -- tons of horror movies (Eli Roth is one of my brother's BFFs from childhood, you can see him die brutally in most of Roth's work. Fun!). I guess what I'm trying to say is that I guess I've become desensitized to the "horror" genre. And maybe that's why I think its such a big deal that I found Gone Girl so downright frightening. I started the book expecting a Dennis Lehane style mystery, and ended up with something much, much different.
Gone Girl has been everywhere for the past few months. Book clubs. Online discussions. Displays at Barnes & Noble. And before I read it, I knew a little bit about it: a young wife goes missing and her husband becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. Told partly in flashback and in journal entries, we get the story of a marriage from both sides. We also get to see what happens when a news story (like a missing spouse) turns into a media circus, complete with a terrible Nancy Grace-esque talking head, and how the media can sway public opinion regardless of the facts. I expected and was interested by of it.
What I was not expecting, and ended up being both fascinated and terrified by, was the rest. This book surprised me more than any other book I can remember reading. Every 30 or 40 pages, I would completely change my mind about what I think the ending would be and what had happened to Amy (the wife). Was it handsome husband, Nick? Or his adorable mistress, Andie? Or maybe one of the many people who have been accused of stalking Amy over the years? A jealous neighbor? A homeless vagrant? His angry father? Her bizarre parents? Who would want to hurt beautiful, lovely, wealthy, perfect Amy? And why?
And then, about halfway through, something shifted...and the psychological portrait the story painted of this seemingly normal American couple turned into the scariest thing I can remember reading in ages. And at that point, I couldn't put the book down. I'll definitely be seeking out other books by Gillian Flynn. The characters she painted were vibrant and real, and the backstories and details about each of them were fascinating.
I love that this book seems to have fallen into the Sixth Sense/Fight Club/The Crying Game territory, where nobody who has read it is willing to spoil the outcome, leaving interested readers to find out for themselves.
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)