In Gone Girl, we have Nick and Amy Dunne, married just five years, starting their married life in New York but moving to North Carthage, Mississippi to help caretake Nick's parents after losing both their jobs. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick goes to work at the bar he and his twin sister have opened, where he gets a phone call from a neighbor, saying Nick's front door is open. When Nick goes home, he finds what looks like a struggle, and Amy is nowhere to be seen.
And that's really all I can tell you without giving spoilers.
I can tell you this, though: once I started this book, I could barely put it down. The story is told by Nick, first person, and also through Amy's diary entries leading up to the day she disappears. That sounds predictable, but this book is anything but. Well--there were a couple of plot twists I did see coming, but overall? It's a wild ride, this one, full of unlikable but fascinating characters, secrets, lies, a psychopath--what more can you ask for in a summer read? I suppose if you don't like unlikable characters, this book would be repellent to you. I'm perfectly fine with unlikable characters, as long as they're interesting. And oh boy, are they ever.
But it's not just the mystery that makes this book so involving. Gillian Flynn digs deeper than that to look closely at how marriages thrive or crumble, and family ties for good or bad, and the effects of the ongoing economic slump. One wonderful detail is that North Carthage used to be home to a blue book manufacturer--remember those, the little blue books for essay exams in college? And now the unemployed blue book makers have become a kind of city gang, simply known as the Blue Book gang. But all of it, the characters' personal histories, the world around them, it all comes into play:
"I sat in the doorstep of a vacant storefront. It occurred to me that I had brought Amy to the end of everything. We were literally experiencing the end of a way of life, a phrase I'd applied only to New Guinea tribesmen and Appalachian glassblowers. The recession had ended the mall. Computers had ended the Blue Book plant. Carthage had gone bust; its sister city Hannibal was losing ground to brighter, louder, cartoonier tourist spots. My beloved Mississippi River was being eaten in reverse by Asian carp flip-flopping their way up toward Lake Michigan...It was the end of my career, the end of hers, the end of my father, the end of my mom. The end of our marriage. The end of Amy."
Like I said, I had a couple of minor quibbles with some of the plot, but really, overall? What's fascinating about the book far outshines the quibbles. The ending of the book haunted me for days.
I have no idea if anyone's thinking of making a movie of this book, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did, and I'm pretty sure they've already conspired with Jack White for the theme song:
My thanks to Crown Publishing for sending me a review copy.