15 November 2012

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I'm probably the last person in the book blog world to have read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, which is part mystery and part psychological thriller. The book has garnered big buzz and much praise. It was an Indie Next pick for June 2012, it was given starred reviews, and big-name mystery writers wrote blurbs.

In case you don't know the plot, I'll summarize it: A young, once-rich couple lost their journalism jobs in New York City during the economic downturn. For a number of reasons, they move to Nick's Missouri hometown to start over. Amy is not at all happy about the move, and over time their marriage begins to fall apart. Then on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Who is responsible for her disappearance and what exactly happened to Amy?

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but here's the thing. I liked Gone Girl and thought the twisty minds of the characters were well crafted and definitely creepy. I was not, however, blown away by it. Very early on in the novel, I had two theories of what happened. By halfway through I had narrowed it down to one. When the big reveal occurred, it only confirmed my suspicions. I didn't figure out the details of the ending, but I had the gist.

The story is told in alternating perspectives: from Nick in real time and from Amy's diary entries. Flynn does an excellent job creating two distinct personalities and voices. I loved hearing about the same incident from two points of view. Unfortunately, unlike most readers, I didn't develop a clear picture of either character. Both Amy and Nick seemed elusive, and because of that I don't think I was particularly invested in the novel.

Regardless, I think I'm right in saying that fans of psychological thrillers won't want to miss Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn exposes the dark recesses of Nick and Amy's marriage, and it's a marriage like no other (or so we can hope). Even though the novel won't make my top ten list, I recommend it as a good read. My advice is to keep your expectations in check.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Random House Audio; 19 hr, 11 min) read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborn. Whelan's performance was excellent, and her inflections and emotional range were well suited to Amy. Heyborn's voice seemed a little young, however, and I had to remind myself that Nick was a man in his thirties. On the other hand, Heyborn's characterizations were believable and nicely done. I appreciated that Whelan's and Heyborn's performances complemented each other, making the transitions between them smooth and natural. If I had been reading Gone Girl in print I might not have finished it, so that's a recommendation to try the audiobook.

t © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 11/15/12, 6:20 AM  

I'm so jealous of people like you! I never never see what's coming! I'm listening to an Elizabeth George book now on tape, and when Lynley uncovers something at around disk 12, I'm thinking, what an idiot I am - I should have seen that as well! I'm too naive! On the other hand, my naivity/denseness makes me just love books like Gone Girl, because they can always knock me over with surprise! :--)

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 11/15/12, 7:01 AM  

Glad to hear your opinion. I've not read it and I probably won't. I'm really only interested in reading the books that do blow us away.

Marie Cloutier 11/15/12, 7:02 AM  

I sort of guessed what was going to happen but I tried to let the mystery have its way with me. It's such a great thriller!

Janet 11/15/12, 7:08 AM  

I'm so glad to hear someone else was not blown away by it. It was OK for me but not up the hype I'd heard. I had it pretty much figured out and just wasn't a fan of the characters so didn't care much what happened with them. Just shows we all have or likes and dislikes.

Tracee 11/15/12, 7:15 AM  

My hubby just finished it and told me the same thing, not great at all. He also said that the ending was not at all what he was expecting, but not in a good way. What did you think of how it ended?

Beth F 11/15/12, 7:18 AM  

@tgleichner: I didn't have a problem with the ending at all. I thought it was appropriate.

The Two R's 11/15/12, 7:42 AM  

I've heard so much about this book that I'm sure I'll read it one day, but it was very much in the form of hype from the press, then meh from readers, which isn't that exciting.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 11/15/12, 7:43 AM  

I was one of those blown away because I didn't see it coming and I usually do. :)

Now I think I will need to try it in audio too.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) 11/15/12, 7:46 AM  

I read it a few months ago and like you, I did enjoy it but had conflicting feelings about it. With all the hoopla surrounding this book, I thought it would blow me away and it just didn't. It was a good read, but not great. That being said, I am glad I read it.

JoAnn 11/15/12, 8:07 AM  

I was on the library hold list for months before deciding that I really didn't want to read this after all. Now, I almost feel like I'm missing out because EVERYONE has read it... maybe I'll give the audio a chance.

Elizabeth 11/15/12, 8:16 AM  

Not the LAST person...=)

I just got the audio from the library, so I'll get to it before long, though - thanks for the fair warning.

Julie P. 11/15/12, 8:23 AM  

I'm sorry that this one didn't live up to your expectations. I thought it was excellent even though I sense where it was going too.

Erika Robuck 11/15/12, 8:32 AM  

I devoured Gone Girl in two days, and none of what I thought turned out to be true. I felt like a pretzel with all of the twists and turns.

I can't believe I enjoyed a book with two such unlikable characters so much, but I did. When I recommend it to people I usually tell them they will feel cold and dead inside when they finish, but it's worth it. :)

I enjoyed hearing your perspective, and now I wish I'd listened to the audiobook.

Heather 11/15/12, 9:14 AM  

I'm looking forward to reading this. Perhaps I should consider the audio book, will get to it sooner. Thanks for the idea.

How Jess Reads 11/15/12, 9:56 AM  

I love Jill's comment, ha! Now I'm curious about what Lynley uncovers on disc 12.

But - I listened to Gone Girl on audio, and I really liked it. I see what you mean about Heyborn's voice being a little young - but I thought it fit, because Nick never fully grew up in a lot of ways.

Carrie K. 11/15/12, 10:07 AM  

I've listened to Heyborn read YA fiction - he does young very well. :)

In Gone Girl, I had the first twist figured out, but the ending flabbergasted me!

Daryl 11/15/12, 10:45 AM  

nope you are not the last one to read it, i still haven't read it

Zibilee 11/15/12, 11:23 AM  

I loved this one, but then, I read it way before all the hype set in, and I wasn't clear on what I would find in the pages. It was an insane story, and my book club picked Sharp Objects by the same author for our next read. I can't wait to try that one. Sandy said it was good, but not as good as this one. I'm sorry to hear that this one didn't blow you away, but I do appreciate your candor, because frankly, too much hype can ruin a book for potential readers.

Harvee 11/15/12, 12:02 PM  

I started to read this one and found it slow and I thought it was going to be predictable, so I set it down. It is a thick book!

Sandy Nawrot 11/15/12, 12:24 PM  

I think the longer you wait to read a book like this, the greater chance there is that you will be disappointed. It is so hard to avoid hearing a spoiler or two, and there is the thing about expectations. I read it almost immediately after it was published and knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the book. Nothing. So it DID blow me away because it caught me completely unaware.

Unknown 11/15/12, 12:25 PM  

I really think I'll finish this book up at some point. I want to know the twist. As of yet it hasn't grabbed me, and I don't love it.

Teresa 11/15/12, 12:37 PM  

I haven't read it yet. I've gone back and forth on whether or not I want to. This may be one that I'll read or listen to eventually.

The Relentless Reader 11/15/12, 12:40 PM  

I just finished Gone Girl last night. I was expecting some craziness and that's exactly what I got out of it. Those characters!! Holy cow, nut jobs ;)

I'm with Sandy who said that the longer you wait to read a big buzz book the more the chance that you'll be disappointed with it. I don't like my expectations to be too darn high. I wish I had picked this up before the hype.

Bookfool 11/15/12, 12:59 PM  

Nice review! I'm one of those rare people who are completely disinterested in this particular book. It's probably partly the hype, partly the fact that I don't read much in the way of mystery/suspense, anymore. It's nice to read a differing opinion.

Serena 11/15/12, 1:48 PM  

I like when I can find a different perspective on an "IT" book because it helps me to keep my expectations in check when I finally get to the book.

bookmagic 11/15/12, 2:26 PM  

I had mixed feelings about this book, I liked the twist and then getting Amy's take. The ending was bizarre but I thought it suited them both.

bermudaonion 11/15/12, 2:59 PM  

You're not the last to read this, I am. Thanks for the recommendation to keep my expectations in check.

Nise' 11/15/12, 4:20 PM  

I read it this week. Did not like either character, knew where it was going and just didn't care. Did wonder about the ending so I did skimmed to the end. Wonder if I would have been more interested had I listened.

Jenners 11/15/12, 8:34 PM  

I think the hype has hurt this book a bit with people going in with too high expectations. it is a fun twisty thriller that is better than average (in my opinion) and I'd recommend it (and have) to most people looking for a page-turning read.

Laurie C 11/15/12, 9:43 PM  

I felt pretty much exactly the same as you about this one, although I read it in print and wish I had gone with the audio. It is awfully hard to avoid spoilers for a book that had so much buzz, and that may have had something to do with my being underwhelmed.

Anonymous,  11/15/12, 10:04 PM  

It must be a Jill thing, because I'm a pretty oblivious reader,too. Which means I get a lot of "holy shit!" moments out of books like this.

Tina 11/16/12, 6:42 AM  

This is a book I kept passing over to place on my To Read list. It garnered much attention that I took second and third looks. I love a mystery, so I am game.
Good review, and you did not give the ending away :-)

Patti Smith 11/16/12, 7:01 AM  

I was a pretzel reader with Gone Girl too. Flynn blew me away at every turn. I hated both characters...but just kept on reading. I agree wholeheartedly what others have said here about how hype can ruin a read. The ending was a Holy Shit moment for me...and then I wanted to throw the book against the way (but, I couldn't bc then my Nook would be broken)...but I liked it :/ I think Gone Girl appeals to those readers who like to have their minds messed with :)

Peaceful Reader 11/16/12, 9:48 AM  

I was surprised by this thriller and I agree that the characters are not particularly empathetic yet they demonstrate something twisted.

I think the plot twists and psychological turns were unique and I didn't see many of them coming. I would love to listen to the audio now and hear the two voices.

I do recommend this title as a very good read.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 11/16/12, 2:28 PM  

I had a suspicious of what was coming as well (though not the very last surprise) and so when things panned out that way I couldn't help but feel a bit disgusted. I enjoyed the ride of this book but I feel a little dirty recommending it to others. Too many elements thrown in just for the sake of shock, I felt.

Glad the audio worked for you! I've heard good things about it.

Amy 11/18/12, 4:30 PM  

I agree--I thought it was good and even a bit thought provoking but I wasn't blown away by it.

caite 11/19/12, 4:32 PM  

I totally agree with you on Heyborn's voice...did not like it at all.

Robin M 11/19/12, 5:13 PM  

I have yet to read it but does sound intriguing. Love psychological thrillers.

Tif Sweeney 11/20/12, 5:17 PM  

You are not alone! I just picked up this book and hope to read it soon. Guess I will see if it is worth all the hype or not!

Jenn's Bookshelves 11/21/12, 9:29 AM  

Loved this one in print. Reading your comments about the audio, I may have to try that next!

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