Ever since I finished reading Gone Girl, it seems like I’m seeing it everywhere. It’s cropping up on a lot of “must read” lists and USA Today blogger Whitney Mattheson recently wondered if this might not be the “book of the summer.”
If she’s right (and I think she very well is), it couldn’t happen to a more satisfying and compulsively read-able type of book. From the first page, Gillian Flynn pulls you into the relationship and marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. On the surface, their dating and marriage looks like the fodder for a romantic comedy featuring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but once you start digging under the surface a bit, you realize these two characters are far from perfect. And once you start peeling away some of the layers, you realize that this isn’t so much a marriage built on love (it may have been when they started, but not anymore) but instead one built on dark needs and secrets.
Each chapter alternates between Nick and Amy telling us the story of their life together. The catalyst for the story is when Amy suddenly disappears under mysterious circumstances, leaving Nick as the prime suspect in the case. Flynn wisely spends the first third of the novel painting the picture of a nearly idyllic marriage and then spends the rest of the story slowly pulling the rug out from under you. And it’s once we find out the first of Nick’s many secrets that we slowly begin to understand just how dark and twisted this marriage really is–and how both parties have contributed to it.
If it sounds like I’m being deliberately vague, I am. Part of the fun of the novel is the revelations and twists Flynn puts into the story and how the perceptions of the characters change from chapter to chapter. Both Amy and Nick are deeply manipulative of each other as well as their family and friends. And while we may not always like what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, Flynn always at least makes us understand the motivation behind their actions.
If this is to be the book of the summer, I can’t think of a better one. I will warn you that if you pick it up, expect it to consume your attention until you’ve finished it.