Thursday, September 4, 2014

Emmy's Book Review... Gone Girl


I have been fighting with myself for over a week now trying to figure out what I should say about this book and what I should leave out.  I picked up this book because I’ve heard people over and over again raving about the story.  I knew it was about a missing woman, (duh, by the title) but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I actually started it before I officially started it - I was trying to finish another book before starting anything new.  I’m notorious for reading two and three different books at a time, interspersed with random fan-fiction when the mood hits.  The chapters in this book are short, which made it perfect to pick it up, read a chapter, then put it down and go do something else.  
The chapters are in alternating POV’s.

Nick Dunne, the husband of this piece, is narrating the “present day” chapters with the action of his wife, Amy, going missing and the police investigation and so on.  The alternating chapters are pages from Amy’s diary, which gives you the back story on their lives and relationship. This is a smart move, because you start to get a sense of her voice, and her side of the story, if you will.  You start to like her, and why shouldn’t you? Even though she’s obviously a rich kid that normally I would have NO idea how to relate to. They are a classic case of city girl meets country boy, or rich girl meets poor boy, however you want to slice it.  

They are both writers for magazines in New York when they meet at a party.  They have one good date, then don’t reconnect for the better part of a year.  The second time they meet it sticks, and they eventually marry.  Nick is from Missouri, while Amy is from New York.  Her  parents, who are both psychologists, have made scads of money writing children’s books, of which Amy is the star (supposedly - you can’t call the books Amazing Amy and not expect your actual child - named Amy - to get a big head about it).  So Nick has lucked out, he’s landed himself a wife with a trust fund and has a great job to boot.  

When the recession hits, both Nick and Amy are laid off.  No worries, Amy says, they can live on her trust fund until something comes up.  Then her mom and dad show up, and whoops, they’re broke because they made bad investments and are going to lose everything unless Amy and Nick help them.  It takes almost her entire trust fund.  Meanwhile Nick’s twin sister calls from Missouri--mom’s sick, dad’s got dementia, she just can’t handle it anymore.  Nick makes the executive decision that they are moving to Missouri.  They don’t have jobs in new york anymore, and it’s cheaper to live there. They move to Missouri, where Nick and his twin sister Margo- called Go - borrow the bulk of Amy’s remaining trust fund to open a bar.

That is the basic back story that you find out along the way - it opens on present day.
It’s Nick and Amy’s five year anniversary.  Nick comes home and finds the living room trashed.  Naturally, he calls the law and the investigation begins.  He can’t account for where he was that morning, and not much is made of it at first. He knows that he is the likely first suspect, but maintains that he has no clue what is going on. He’s bewildered, yes, but it all just seems kind of like an act, which makes everyone suspicious of him.  He’s very concerned with the way people see him.  He’s consciously trying to behave in the way a “concerned” husband should.  That was enough to make me wonder what his deal was.  There is mention made a couple of times of a cell phone ringing in his pocket that he ignores.  Even though someone with him usually tells him “you really should answer every call”.   I’ll admit, I missed this.  That’s why I was so surprised when one of the twists came later in the book.  Nick as a character, to me at first, comes off as a flawed, but otherwise straightforward guy (ignore the cell phone mystery for a moment) He’s aware that he’s a suspect and also knows that he has an unconscious habit of “looking like an asshole” at inopportune moments.  

For example, at the televised rally for the search for Amy.  He’s on the stage with her parents standing in front of a picture of his missing wife, and the flash bulbs start going off.  He smiles, even though he knows as soon as he does it that it was the wrong thing to do.  Thing is, he’s a good looking guy who lies often, that smile has got him out of hot water more than once.  Was it just a reaction?  Later on he winds up posing for a cell phone photo with one of the local women in the area.  The description of all the local wives descending on him with casseroles and the like cracked me up-- that’s just like people I grew up with.  As soon as someone dies, you head straight to the kitchen and start cooking.  Southern funeral rituals are forever.  I digress, he knows that he’s going to look like an idiot posing for a picture with this girl, is even saying get the hell away from me, this is bad in his head, but does it anyway, so not to look like an asshole.  SO, the impression we get from Nick is that he is flawed, and oblivious, and hiding something, but not a killer.  A dumbass, maybe, but not a killer.  

Her parents arrive shortly after the investigation starts, and are suitably upset and creepy.  They do point out a couple of other suspects--a girl who was obsessed with amy in school, an ex boyfriend  who tried to kill himself in her dorm room when she broke up with him.  The ex actually show up at the search party, and eventually Nick goes to talk to him on his own, without the cops.  Desi’s an odd duck, no doubt about it, with his mother that is the spitting image of an older Amy.  Nick talks to the girl, as well as an ex of her’s that she filed rape charges on, then dropped.  They both paint a VERY different picture of Amy than we have been lead to believe.  

Now to explain the “clues” you see in the trailer for the movie.  It was Nick and Amy’s anniversary, and every year she sends Nick on an elaborate treasure hunt.  Her father did the same thing for her mother every year on their anniversary, so Amy does the same thing.    
Unless she explained all this to him at some point (which she never says that she did) he would be understandably clueless when she does it the first year.  That first year anniversary treasure hunt was a disaster, we learn in the flashbacks, but she does it every year anyway.  

This year the first clue is of course found by the police in their home, which leads the cops and Nick to his office at the local college where he teaches journalism part time.  Nick tells the cops that he can’t figure out the clue, when he actually has, because he doesn’t want them there when he finds the next clue.  Was that a desire for privacy, or something else?  The next clue leads him to Hannibal, a few towns down the road.  The notes that she is leaving at the clues are getting to him--she sounds like the girl he married, so sweet and loving and supportive.  He feels badly for his part in their strained relationship--moving her out to someplace she’s never been, ignoring her, basically acting like an asshole. The clue following Hannibal leads him to his dad’s old house, but yields nothing but the next clue.  It takes him awhile to figure it out, so it’s set aside for a little while.  More crazy things start turning up--Amy’s picture was recognized by a guy that she tried to buy a gun from.  Why would she need a gun, the cops and populace wonder.  Then a large amount of cleaned up blood is found in the kitchen of the house, thanks to the wonders of Luminol, made so famous on CSI.  No, Nick has no idea what blood type Amy is.  (I had to stop and think here--I don’t even know my own blood type, much less my husband’s)  Amy’s purse turns up down the road in Hannibal.  There are credit card bills that Nick claims no knowledge of--big bills, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth--but no merchandise.  

Then the first twist--remember, I warned you there would be spoilers--you find out what was up with that cell phone that I missed the significance of-- Nick’s been screwing around on Amy for over a year.  With a young college student named Andie.  I actually threw the book across the room when I read this--I liked Nick.  I wanted to like him.  Like I said, he’s a dumbass, but I really didn’t think he killed her. Suddenly the treasure hunt takes on new meaning.  He realizes that all the places on the treasure hunt are not just places that have significance with him and Amy, but are also all places that he has messed around with Andie.  The clue notes seem completely different when seen in this light--he knows now that she knew. Before the notes seemed almost sickeningly sweet - read in a new light they were snarky as hell, which made me laugh.  Amy is clever, I’ll give her that.   I was grinning when I saw it all falling into place, thinking, oh man, she got him, the jerk, she really got him.  

And THAT”S where I’m gonna shut up.

At this point you still don’t know if Amy was actually kidnapped, if she ran away, or if Nick actually HAS killed her and has been shooting you a line of crap for this entire novel. I will say that this has got to be one of the most deviously done novels that I have read this year.  Just when you are sure you have it all figured out, another twist slaps you in the face.  This was one of the few books that I felt creeped out by at the end of it.  I remember closing the book and looking at the author’s picture on the back and thinking, How like Amy is she?  How much of Amy is herself? Is Amy herself, or is she Nick? Or neither? Or all?

One thing is for certain, I will be reading her other novels - they promise to be just as dark, if not more.

Coming up, because my sister-in-law insisted I had to start this series next: The Eternal Guardians Series Book One: Marked

No comments:

Post a Comment