Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Read by Kirby Heyborne and Julia Whelan
Random House Audio
Length: 19 Hrs 11 Min
Quick Thoughts: Gone Girl is more than just a thriller. It is a extremely well plotted, intricately told tale whose whole purpose is to make your mind explode, leaving chunks of gray matter congealing on the floor for some forensic guy to scoop up. It’s a literary assault on your brain, and Gillian Flynn should, at the very least, be brought in for questioning.
First off, I want to say, if you have yet to read Gone Girl. DON"T READ THIS REVIEW! I know, I know, "But, Bob, it’s a review. How will we know if we want to listen to this tale?" Well, first off, you do. Listen to it. Enjoy. Have your mind blown or if you are a thriller loving know-it-all curmudgeon, at least glow in the appreciation of what Gillian Flynn accomplishes with this novel. Now, if your thinking, "But, Bob. I want the reading experience to be spoiled. I actually arrived here looking for spoilers." Well, you’re dead to me. Why search out spoilers. Do you also search out head trauma and Lyme Disease carrying ticks, because they also suck the fun out of life? In reality, this isn’t really a review, but more of a tongue-in-cheek recounting of my experience with Gone Girl. Plus, it contains images of my face. (Not pleasant) Really, unless you have already experienced this novel, don’t read this review. Go read Gone Girl, and then come back. I think you will appreciate it.
If you are looking for good, solid non-spoilery reviews, I endorse these:
That’s What She Read
Jenn’s Book Thoughts
***CONTAINS SPOILERS AND MY FACE: PROCEDE WITH CAUTION***
I have to say, I was sort of hesitant to start Gone Girl. It received a lot of praise from people I respected, had two excellent narrators and the hype about the jaw dropping, gut punch twist could not be ignored. Yet, for some reason it sat on my MP3 Player for a few weeks, and continued to get pushed back by other titles. I think part of the problem was the hype. I hate learning ahead of time that there even is A BIG TWIST!!!!! I like going into things cold, and I was hesitant, because I knew I would spend much of the audiobook waiting for THE BIG TWIST and trying to figure it out, instead of just enjoying the tale.
I have to say, at first, I was sort of creeped out. Not by the book, or the characters, but by one of the narrators, Kirby Heybourne. Now, Heybourne is a great narrator, but the last title I listened to him narrate was Dan Well’s I Don’t Want to Kill You, and his reading of that novel gave me chills, and beginning Gone Girl, I began to have flashback chills. Luckily, I can report, both Heybourne and Whelan were brilliant. Like, perfect for the role, should be nominated for Audies, pat on their backs brilliant.
So I started Gone Girl and was instantly drawn in. One of the beautiful things about this novel is there is a weird balance between the recognizable and the bizarre. You recognize the situation almost instantly. It’s the whole, “wife goes missing, the husband probably did it” scenario. Yet, Flynn tells this story from the perspective of two of the most unreliable narrators ever. Flynn’s tale start with Nick, the aforementioned husband, as he discovers his wife is missing, and gradually discovers he is the suspect. Then, you meet Amy, the missing wife, who details the story of Nick and Amy, from their fist meeting until her eventual disappeared. Yet, there is just and utter feeling of wrongness. While the two competing stories are plausible, and well realized, they just don’t fit together right. There are inconsistencies, secrets, and such a difference in tone between the two tales that you never feel comfortable. Yet, I was completely sucked in and enjoying every bit of it.
Yet, there is a point, about nine to ten hours into the audiobook where I begin to feel a bit fatigued. Here again, is the problem knowing about THE BIG TWIST. I heard it was about the halfway point, and by this time, I just want the shoe to drop. I want everything to come together, and either prove my many theories right, or spin my head. Or both. Now, you have to remember, I come into reading this thriller as someone who is as much of a speculative fiction fan as a thriller fan. I have read books where the neighbors turn out to be demon monsters and ones where the love interest is really an android. I know THE BIG TWIST is coming, and my brain says, “Figure it out Bob.” So, my brain goes wild. Nick is an Alien. It’s all a weird reality show. Amy is a vampire. Soylent Green is People. Bruce Willis is a Ghost. The Rapture!!!!! This is my brain. Fear it.
Then of course, comes THE BIG TWIST.
Now, of course, this is supposed to be the big WTF moment, but in reality, I was more relived, if anything. This was the twist I was hoping for. I’m not going to say I figured it out, but it was one that really was on the top of my list. This wasn’t because I am brilliant. I have learned twist lessons from two of my favorite books. First, is from Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent. That is, for a good twist to be effective, all the pieces had to be there for the reader to pick up. Second comes from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and that is, never trust a first person narrator. For me, THE BIG TWIST has all the pieces in place, if you take into account that the voice of Diary Amy just wasn’t right. Flynn had created such a brilliant complex character in Nick, yet Amy came off as almost a caricature. You could chalk this up to self delusion, or bad writing, but I preferred malicious intent. Yet, my mind was totally blown, not by the exact twist, but how well it was executed. Every red herring Flynn put into place was accounted for. While I suspected the base of the twist, the detail and complexity of it was simply amazing.
One concerning thing for me was my responses to the characters. I really wanted to like Nick. I wanted him to turn out to not just be innocent, but be a good guy. I think this comes from the fact that I was brought up by a single mother. Despite all the evidence that my father is/was and asshole, I wanted him not to be. I find myself often cheering for the misunderstood male figure in fiction. Also, I personally have been called out for responding to intense situations almost unemotionally, and I could feel for Nick there as well. Yet, as always, I eventually discover that Nick is basically a self centered manchild, and I grew to despise him. Yet, there was a part of me that still longed for his redemption. When THE BIG TWIST came, I sort of flipped my views on the characters. I really began to like Amy. I was actually impressed with her. She moved from being a caricature, to being funny and perceptive. Her entire monologue of THE COOL GIRL was brilliant. I even didn’t blame her for what she did to Nick. Amy has a line where she tells you she now wants to show you THE REAL AMY before you make any judgments. The problem is, you do get to meet THE REAL AMY. THE REAL AMY is pretentious, self deluded and elitisms, and quickly strips away any of my affinity for her. There is a brilliant scene when she talks about how all she needs to do is mention her lack of money, and she was sure this women would let her stay on for free. She mentioned her lack of money, and the woman suggests she get a job. What is brilliant about this is Amy acts like she never even had the thought. She quickly just readjusts her perception, almost forgetting her expectations. It is self delusion at its grandest. Amy may be the best literary sociopath I have ever read. Yet, from a guy who finds quirkiness sort of hot, sociopathy is not in the least hot.
Now, you would expect after THE BIG TWIST for the book to sort of wind down. It doesn’t. First, Flynn lets us spend time with one of the most creepy characters ever, in Amy’s ex-boyfriend, and probable stalker. This dude seriously weirder me out. There were so many moments of joyous verisimilitude in this novel. My favorite has to be Diary Amy’s Multiple Choice questions interposed against her being questioned by Detective Boney, with their questions and answers being displayed as A: B:. I was almost expecting the FBI agents to have names that started with C and D. The amount of detail Flynn put into this book was incredible and mind blowing. I really hope she never tries to plan out my murder.
Finally, The Ending. For me, the ending was the true WTF moment. Nick, holy shit Nick. Really. I mean, come on man. Grrrr… I have no respect for the dude at all, and after the ending, well, I’m not even sure. But, I have to say, I really would have loved to see Amy explain to the cops why she saves vomit in the freezer for so long after she never expected he was trying to poison her. OK I guess she could have said it was fresh, but still. But, really… come on Nick. I just don’t know. The ending did what only the best do. PISS ME OFF. Yet, only sort of. I know there had to be a better way. Really, there did. I just couldn’t figure it out. People, this is why I am still single. Plus, of course, the face. Kinda scary, right?