Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first half of Gone Girl pivots on an essential question: What happened to Amy Dunne on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary? The point of view shifts from her diary entries dating back several years and her husband’s first person narrative in the present tense. He’s clearly not telling the whole truth and his impressions of her stand in contrast to her version of events in her diary entries.
Then, at the halfway point of the novel, the essential question is turned on its head. I hate to say anything about the second half of the book except it takes a dramatic turn. In fact it’s hard to talk about this book at all without spoiling the plot.
But, while the plot was fun—dark, twisted, psychotic fun—it was the way in which our societal roles dictate our behavior that was very cleverly exploited and of great interest to me. I’m not going to go into any specific spoilers but it’s kind of hard to talk about this book at all without it being a spoiler so:
——MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD——-
Nick is a jerk. He’s narcissistic and the kind of guy who will tell you anything to avoid honest communication, particularly if it will lead to him feeling uncomfortable in anyway. He’s an avoider. Amy is brilliant but crazy. However, they both adopt disguises in life and marriage to pass among the “normal” people, unnoticed for how twisted they really are.
Thematically, the book takes the feminist theory idea that femininity is a disguise—a construct women adopt to pass in a patriarchal society–to its darkest conclusion: that femininity is a kind of sociopathy (and also that patriarchal entitlement is a kind of endless narcissism). In this way, Flynn neatly unpacks lots of tropes about male and female behavior but wraps it up in a plot that is darkly comedic and very often just dark but never boring.
It’s well-plotted, darkly funny, and, over the several days that I read it, I found myself thinking about it in the middle of the day and wondering how it could all be resolved. I wasn’t disappointed.
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