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English department


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn, author of Shark Objects and best-selling book Dark Places, has done it again. In Gone Girl, Flynn will keep you on the edge of your chair.

No marriage is perfect, and Nick and Amy Dunne’s is far from it. After a rocky year, Amy turns up missing with signs of a struggle in their home. Suspicion begins to surround Nick and their marriage as the plot reveals that neither character is quite who they seem to be.

In Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, bestselling author of Sharp Objects and Dark Places, crafts a masterfully suspense-filled story with significant revelations in every chapter. Her ability to create suspense and reveal significant information in a believable way is astonishing, especially when the entire book is narrated in the first-person point of view. For example, all throughout the first half of the book, Nick’s disposable cell phone keeps ringing and he continually ignores it. Flynn is able to describe the phone without revealing any information about who is on the other end of it until the right moment in the plot. In this way, Flynn is able to find the perfect balance between creating suspense and making the reader feel manipulated.

The characterization in the novel is great as well. Flynn’s characters act in a believable way that is consistent with their personalities throughout the story, and her characters are realistic as well. Not a single character in the book is particularly likeable; they all have flaws that disappoint the reader in the end. Even the protagonist, Nick, is hardly a hero. Nick and Amy’s marital problems are as much his fault as they are Amy’s. Even so, the story is crafted in such a way as to still be compelling, even though there’s really no one to root for.

Along the same lines, the book does a great job with establishing a central theme and having all elements of the plot revolve around this theme. Each character in the book is disingenuous, playing a role. From Nick playing the role of victimized husband to Amy playing the role of perfect wife, no person in the novel is sincere. On page 72, the theme is once more asserted as Nick reflects on his life, saying “It’s a very different era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.” This theme is well established throughout the plot and adds ever more forward momentum and drive to the plot.

Though the book is very strong with regards to plot and character consistency, it can feel a bit shocking at times. There’s quite a bit of language and a few scenes are not suited for a younger reader. However, Flynn includes these in an attempt to create more realism in the novel, not to shock or offend readers. Some might argue that the ending is a bit disappointing as well, though it makes sense and suits the plot and general momentum of the story.

Overall, Gone Girl is an extremely well-written, exciting book. It has a great balance of action and suspense in addition to thoughtful reflection on the true nature of personality. I would highly recommend buying and enjoying this great work of fiction.

By: KAYLA VANDERPLOEG