Verdict: Suspenseful page turner – great psychological thriller – totally entertaining.
Perfect for: While none of the characters are YA, people of all ages who like psychological thrillers or mysteries based on true crime will be sucked in by this book’s well-crafted plot and characters.
Summary: On their 5th wedding anniversary Nick’s wife Amy disappears. Soon the police – and public opinion – seem to believe that there has been foul play, and that Nick is responsible. Told in alternating chapters between Nick’s narration of ongoing events and Amy’s past diary entries, the book keeps readers in constant suspense: which spouse is to be believed? what happened to Amy? who is at fault? how could such a promising marriage go so wrong? why can’t I turn these pages fast enough to find out omg?????????
Sometimes when people describe a book as a “beach read” or an “airplane read” there is a sense that said book is a page turner without much substance. But Gone Girl is a page turner with a lot of substance. Quite intense substance. Substance that might come back to your thoughts after you finish the book. And yet, it is still a fabulous page turner, with a tight, relentless plot that has very few holes. Whether you are on a beach or on the plane or at home on a winter’s night, this book will entertain you and maybe even have you think about stuff.
The substance of the book has to do with the topic of marriage. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that Nick and Amy’s love-at-first-sight meeting and “perfect” courtship slowly transformed into something much more toxic and unstable. But why? Amy would have you believe that it was Nick who “stopped trying”. Nick would have you believe that Amy is a control freak who makes him always feel in the wrong. These are pretty common gender stereotypes in heterosexual relationships, but in this book these attitudes are magnified and distorted into something else altogether. Still, the book has some provocative ideas about what makes a relationship unsustainable from the very start. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that one could get some helpful dating advice from this cautionary tale, but it will definitely make you think about relationship dynamics.
A big part about what makes the book so successful is its dueling narratives between Nick and Amy. First because the author writes their voices in such distinct ways. You really get a sense of each personality both through the content of what each character says but also through the style. When I was reading a “Nick” chapter, I was fully engaged in his POV, but was also anxious to get back to “Amy”, and vice versa. Both voices were compelling and the author was successful at having me fully invested in both characters and being in the position of being simultaneously trusting and distrusting both of them. I LOVE books with an unreliable narrator, and I got two for the price of one in this story!
The beautiful wife disappears and the handsome-yet-shady husband is suspected. Where have we seen this before? What this book shows is how it might feel to be on the inside of this oft-repeated story. If you are familiar with the basic outlines of your own circumstance from countless other episodes and dramatic depictions, then how can you use media to your advantage? Or is it a given that media will use you? How much does public opinion influence justice?
I’m not going to write any spoilers here, but I will say that the ending was both satisfying…and kinda not. The ending made sense in a kind of literary-thematic way, but maybe not so much in a character and real life way. But YMMV so read it for yourself!