Sunday, June 23, 2024

Gone Girl


Nick and Amy Dunne are both laid off from their jobs in New York City and are forced to move back to his hometown in Missouri where they trade their fast-paced life in the Big Apple for a slower flow of existence in the Midwest. Nick’s mom is sick with cancer and his dad is always causing trouble at the care home. To make matters worse, Amy’s parents are forced by circumstance to borrow from the trust fund they have given their daughter, which happens to be the couple’s last money. Coming back home one day from the bar he is managing with his twin sister Margo, Nick finds his front door wide open and his living room in disarray. Amy is missing, and the angle the police are exploring is that of kidnapping. However, as more evidence and testimonies come to fore, Nick slowly figures as the main suspect in what could be his wife’s murder.

Yet another one of those narratives that I experienced onscreen first instead of on print. How can you enjoy a novel if you already know the big twist? Surprise, I still did! I guess that’s just testament to good writing. The novel unfolds in three acts, with act two revealing the big twist earlier than expected. The chapters are arranged in a sequence alternating between Nick’s day-to-day narration after his wife’s disappearance and Amy’s diary entries talking about their love story. I suppose a worthy experiment would be to read just Nick’s chapters first and then all of Amy’s afterwards or vice-versa, although I believe chronological is still the best way to go.

Since both husband and wife have a say in what is going on and their narrations begin diverging halfway through, one of them is obviously lying and qualifies as an unreliable narrator. In the end, both of them end up being so, but that ambiguity is maximized to its full potential by the author. It is a he-said/she-said scenario, which is perhaps the best way to present an anti-love story. What you witness is the deconstruction of a relationship that has too many fvcked up aspects that make this wannabe murder mystery all the more enjoyable to read. It also proves that being a psychopath knows no gender.

It’s also nice to see the characters more fleshed out. Many of them are introduced as these spotless balls of goodness and perfection, but almost all of them are revealed to have some dirty secret, which is how it is supposed to be. Nobody is perfect after all. This is helpful in throwing more red herrings your way because there are more people to suspect as you are embroiled in the ongoing police investigation. Did Nick really murder his wife? If it wasn’t he then who? Was she really murdered anyway? Where’s the body? Who has a legit motive? If you enjoy such storylines, then there is no reason for you not to enjoy this one.

As for critique of society, Gone Girl makes it a point to highlight the role that media plays in police cases that are good for consumption as far as TV ratings are concerned. Nowadays, of course that includes social media. Is there a more powerful court than that of public opinion? While used to a somehow exaggerated sense, this novel makes a good point in showing us how appearances are superficial, but sometimes it is all that matters if what you are mainly concerned about is people’s judgment of you. It’s a phenomenon as old as time but only getting more noticeable now because of social media.

The only thing I did not enjoy quite as much is Act 3 because the author makes it so easy for the culprit to get away with everything. It is too convenient, even though the novel would have probably been a dragging disappointment if any extensions were made just to prolong that part of the story. In the end we just have to suspend our disbelief a little bit more despite the many holes in the alibi. We easily forgive the author because she took us for a wild 555-page rollercoaster ride after all. If you are looking for a novel to slap the label “unputdownable” on, then Gone Girl is a worthy candidate for your reading pleasure.

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