Image via Goodreads
Here’s a question for you – Can you love a book if you hate the characters in it? Like, violently hate them? Where you’re hoping for something terrible to happen to them?
This is the dilemma that reading Gillian Flynn’s thriller phenomenon Gone Girl has invoked in me. Flynn has achieved a masterstroke in creating characters so contemptible within a plot so full of twists and turns that you are completely and hopelessly hooked from the off, all while thinking “urgh, I hate it/them!”.
Revealing too much about the plot here would completely ruin the enjoyment of any future readers so you’ll have to suffice with this: When a wife disappears under suspicious circumstances, the obvious culprit is the husband. Right?
The narrative structure is split with one half being told by Nick Dunne (the accused husband) and the other half by Amy Dunne (the missing wife). It flashes back and forth covering their lives together, from the meet-cute to the bitter end. Flynn quite uniquely develops the characters to become less and less relatable the more that they reveal about each other and themselves. Amy is cast as the classic unreliable author while Nick is imbued with a simmering misogyny that he fears he has inherited from his father and that he struggles to contain. Flynn for her part has managed to surround Nick with some heavy duty female stereotypes: The Femme Fatale; The Spinster; The Spurned Woman, to name but a few so we can maybe give him a bit of a break. This is in no way a book about female empowerment, indeed an alternative title for Gone Girl could be The Women Men Hate. But to be fair, no one really wins in Flynn’s fable of extreme marital discord.
Gone Girl has become something of a sensation and it’s easy to see why. The second I finished the last sentance I thought “Wow. This will make a terrible movie” (and I’m no book-film snob, believe me). Well it seems that Reese Witherspoon disagrees with me as she and 20th Century Fox snapped up the films rights faster than one of Gillian Flynn’s blindsiding plot twists. I’ve since learned that the king of duplicitous novel adaptations, David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo US), has been signed on as director so this has filled me with a little more confidence for the film, which will be in cinemas in 2015. Regardless, you should really read the book before seeing the film on this occasion.
So, back to the original question, did I like this book? Well I tore through it in two days so I must have. I did. I loved hating it. And if you’re a thriller fan, you will too.
This review was written by guest blogger Ali - find her blog here.