Exploring the art of storytelling.
After reading many great reviews and in anticipation for the upcoming film, I decided to read “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. It was definitely worth the ride.
On the surface, “Gone Girl” was a commentary about marriage and the effects of the media and law enforcement on a murder investigation. Nick was accused of murdering his wife, Amy. This is a horrid situation that we’ve unfortunately seen take place time and time again in today’s society. In “Gone Girl,” we were able to experience this horrific event from the participant’s/victim’s point of views. We got to step into the shoes of both Nick and Amy, learning how a situation like this affected their lives. Personally, I was most interested in the media’s influence since it is such a powerful force in today’s society.
“Gone Girl” was one of the most suspenseful books I’ve ever read. It truly was a page turner. I sped through the book, just wanting to figure out what was going on. Flynn kept me interested, curious, and wanting more. She ended each chapter with a cliffhanger- a great technique. Because of the format of the book, we had to alternate between Nick’s story and Amy’s story. This built up even more suspense. A chapter would end in a cliffhanger, but we’d have to read an entire chapter from the other character’s point of view before we were able to address the cliffhanger, but of course this new chapter brought about its own cliffhangers and questions. It was like a cycle, tugging me deeper and deeper into the story. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book so quickly. I literally couldn’t put it down and read it during any free moment I had.
Flynn is a very talented writer. Her writing was filled with imagery. She delicately described the characters, their thoughts, and their surroundings without getting too bogged down with details. Her imagery was descriptive, yet informative. One prime example was in the opening chapter of “Gone Girl” when she described the sun rising over the town. It was added sensory elements to the world of her story. The imagery in this book lifted the story from the page, making it relatable and realistic. What really impressed me was the way Flynn described the characters’ thoughts and thought processes. I completely understood the characters on a deep level. They interpreted their world in a similar way that I do. One example was how “Cool Amy” would over-think anything regarding her husband, constantly analyzing her words and actions before acting out. It was as if Flynn was in my head. Do other people think like that too?- I remember asking myself. Of course the characters reacted much differently from me, but I still felt like I could understand how their minds worked. I felt an immediate connection with these characters. They felt real and familiar.
The notorious unreliable narrator is an element that was constantly reviewed in my creative writing classes. It’s also is a type of character that anyone who has read a book should be familiar with. The unreliable narrator is a great device used by writers. It allows us to experience the story from the interpretations of the narrator. The narrator may not experience something the way other characters do, or may even hide the truth from his/her readers. Immediately, I became critical of Nick. He kept making small slips when he’d admit that he’d been lying, but we didn’t always know what he was lying about. Because of this, I began to accuse Nick of being the unreliable narrator. I grew trust in Amy, wanting one character to hold on to. But, Flynn is a very clever writer, and she knew this was exactly what I was going to do. At the start of part 2, we were given the bombshell that Amy was far more unreliable than Nick. Feeling completely betrayed, I began to side with Nick more than Amy. Though I didn’t trust either of them fully because I knew they were both unreliable. Excellent work done by Flynn! Not only did she tackle one unreliable narrator, but two in one book.
The first part of “Gone Girl” was absolutely amazing. Immediately, it was starting to become one of my all time favorite books. It was a perfect combination of beautiful writing, suspense, and character development. As the story progressed, however, it lost steam. As I had mentioned before, the twist at the start of part 2 made me feel completely betrayed. Because of this, I built up a protective wall, preventing me from growing close to either of the characters. “Gone Girl” started to become an entirely different story. Now, we knew exactly what happened, we just didn’t know how it was all going to end. I found myself less eager to meet this resolution than the first one. It wasn’t as interesting to me. On top of this, after the reveal in part 2, I realized that I hated both characters. Nick was slimy and apathetic while Amy was just crazy. They were two horrible people who made horrible life decisions. I didn’t care what was going to happen to them. And to be perfectly honest, they scared me. Since the book was set in modern-day USA, I feared for my own safety. I didn’t want these true crazy people to populate the world. Could people like this really exist? While this did make me appreciate the book less, I do realize that the changes to the story after part 1 were all Flynn’s intentions.
“Gone Girl” was an amazing piece of fiction- a book that I believe every book lover should read. It does have its few flaws, but it has taught me so much about suspense writing, point of view, and plot structure. Flynn is an amazingly talented writer with a one-of-a-kind story to tell.