Amazon must have "people" in tiny rooms in the basement, who do nothing but observe what I read and make suggestions about it. I finally had this book delivered to my kindle because it kept appearing on my "recommended for you" list. I had to buy it, because how lovely for someone to be thinking of me! I also wanted to break my routine a little by reading someone new. Gillian Flynn, an author of several books, seemed interesting, and this isn't her first novel. I like consistency.
The story is about a married couple who are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. The couple is set to engage in their usual tradition of a scavenger hunt. Except that Amy disappears, and there appears to be signs of a stuggle. Nick does almost all the things that he is supposed to do in these situations. He calls the police. He contacts Amy's parents. He answers the phones at the search center. He sits with the police for interviews. And yet, there's something he's not talking about.
The he-said/she said chapters, each chapter is from either Amy or Nick, provides a narrative that reminded me of a Can This Marriage Be Saved? situation. I kept expecting a therapist's point of view to appear. That never happens, but over the course of the story, we learn that Amy is the only child of parents who have used her to make a fortune in children's books. We learn that she likes to send her husband on scavenger hunts for their anniversary. We learn that Nick actually hates those scavenger hunts. We learn that Nick's mother was a saint, and that his father was abusive and now a victim of Alzheimer's. More important, we learn that Nick and Amy's marriage is not what it seems, on so many levels. The word "mendacity" kept creeping into my mind while I read.
Most people will enjoy this book. They will enjoy the intricacy of the story, and they will love some of the witty comments made by the characters. It is a good story. Even if it is a good story, however, I was disappointed with Gone, Girl. There was a slow build up, where it became excruciatingly obvious that Nick would be accused of a crime. The author did everything but put up a neon arrow over Nick's head. The characters are also just not very likeable people. I never found myself rooting for them. Instead, I found myself wishing for all of them to be found out. When I started to get to the real story, it was sort of a let down for me. The ending, however realistic, left me thinking, "That's IT?"
Spoiler Alert!!!!! Don't read the next two paragraphs if you haven't read the book and you plan to do so. Skip to the last paragraph.
Gone, Girl goes to great lengths to describe Amy as this extremely meticulous planner, obsessive with details. To a fault, she thinks of every last detail; this is repeated often. That is a great strategy when one is going into battle. Amy is such an avid planner. She spent an entire year planning to be dead. She was from New York, the city where people are known to be savvy about crime. Amy is always right, and she will tell the reader that herself. Except when she is not. Planning is important. So is knowing your opponents. Amy read all those true crime books. She planned. Except she never read a word about not keeping your cash in one place when you travel? She trusted two random strangers not to rob her? She really had no idea about the depths of Desi's crazy?
I also had a problem with Nick allowing Amy to get away with everything. I understood his desire to do whatever it took to protect his child, but if he were truly playing the game at Amy's level, like he said, he never would have deleted his side of the story. He would have printed the book out or put it on a flash drive and put it somewhere like a safe deposit box, then given the police officer the only access key, to be opened in the event of his death or imprisonment. Instead, all it took for his wife to regain the upper hand was for her to get pregnant. In my mind, that just reinforced the cliche' that men are easily manipulated by women. There had to have been a better way to end the story. I can think of at least two.
I am probably being too harsh here, or maybe I am jaded. Probably a little of both. I will say that once I got past the slow start, I sat up later than I should have reading the rest. Gone, Girl is a good beach read, and it would probably be great reading on an airplane or train ride. It's that kind of book, the kind one picks up before an extended trip. Readers will not find the descriptions of Missouri flattering, but they are certainly realistic. And the author's main characters are certainly mult-layered and complex, even if the minor characters are one-dimensional.
Have you read the book? Do you agree or disagree with me? Is there a mystery that you're itching to read? Let me know!