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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.

In the start of the novel is about a married couple, Nick and Amy Dunne have been married for five years. They were both writers and successful, living in New York City, then they both lost their jobs and moved out to Missouri, where Nick’s family currently resides. On their fifth year anniversary, Nick returns home with an empty house and a missing wife; the police gets involved, then the town is involved. Nick eventually becomes a suspect for Amy’s disappearance. The novel is suspenseful and intelligently twisted that it is nothing like a feature news story about a broken marriage.

From the first few pages, the reader may be thrown off by the idea that the novel is just another dramatic book on marriages. However, the novel is full of surprises and suspense that it will keep the reader guessing.

The characters, in this case Nick and Amy, are also the narrators. Flynn creates a dual narration. Nick’s narration is in the present starting with the day of Amy’s disappearance. Amy’s narration, from her diary, begins with the start of their relationship. As Amy’s case continues, the narrators reveal things about themselves that complicates the question of Amy’s disappearance even more. These things leave the reader wondering if anything will ever be solved and if yes, how?

Even though the novel is narrated in first person, the dual narration is effective. The events that occur throughout the novel challenge Nick and Amy to reveal the truth about themselves and their relationship. The story is also set up in such a way that Flynn's use of the dual narration is successful in telling and resolving the story.

The two different narrations also help the reader to simultaneously understand what is happening in the present and what happened in the past. For example, the reader understands that Nick and Amy's relationship hasn't been the best and she is now gone. However, the reader is also presented with the joy of their relationship years before as explained by Amy: "All of a sudden you see reading in bed and waffles on Sunday and laughing at nothing and his mouth on yours. And it's so far beyond fine that you know you can never go back to fine." This dual narration leads to the “what happened” question which creates suspense and engages the reader.

Flynn creates suspense by including details throughout the novel that will lead to a larger discovery later in the novel, or it reveals things about the characters. Every anniversary Amy sets up a treasure hunt for Nick. He is supposed to follow the clues, but he understands them. On the day of Amy’s disappearance, she had a hunt set up for Nick. The details of the hunt help keep the novel moving. As the novel moves along, the reader learns surprises about the characters. An example is Nick and his random phone calls he gets that he never picks up. The reader doesn’t know who is on the other line, until it is eventually revealed, and Flynn chooses to reveal it at just the right moment.

The emotional response the reader may get is open-ended, meaning the narrators are not asking the reader to feel a certain way about the situation. An example is after Nick finally reveals a secret: “Now is the part where I have to tell you…and you stop liking me. If you liked me to begin with…I know. It’s bad.” Though the narrator, here, addresses the reader and he also admits to the situation. The confession is used perhaps in hope of some sympathy without directly stating it.

However, the narrators explanations about their secrets and actions make the reader not want to sympathize with them. The imperfections of the characters make them not very likeable. Even so, their imperfections and secrets are some things that keep the novel interesting and moving.

Flynn’s details and suspense in the novel keeps the reader curious and interested. Gone Girl is a must read, it is not only suspenseful but the realness of the characters and the story keeps the reader engaged. It is definitely a novel that you will want to know how it ends.

By: MAI NOU YANG