Alex’s Book Cave: ‘Gone Girl’

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Photo by Lily Werner (elizabeth.werner@marquette.edu)

“Gone Girl” was published in 2012.

This review contains spoilers of the novel “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.

Gillian Flynn’s 2012 best seller “Gone Girl” entices you into the steamy romance of Nick and Amy Dunne and exemplifies the phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” 

The couple has it all, they’re both successful writers in New York City. Nick writes for a men’s magazine, and Amy is a magazine columnist whose parents have made a fortune from the fictional “Amazing Amy” children’s books. “Amazing Amy” is inspired by her life, but Amazing Amy is perfect in every way where Amy falters.  

They meet on one night at a writer’s party and instantly find a spark, falling deeply in love with one another. Things are going well for the two of them.

Then in 2008, the economy crashes. Once you subtract two jobs, add a recession and empty Amy’s trust fund, that marriage starts to get a little less happy. 

With close to no money left in their bank accounts, Nick and Amy are forced to sell their belongings and flee to Nick’s hometown to care for his ailing mother. There, Nick opens up “The Bar” with his twin sister Margo and teaches at North Carthage Junior College.

Their marriage continues to disintegrate within their leased McMansion in an unfinished subdivision. Nick starts sleeping around with a student and when Amy finds out, she won’t let him get off easy.

Instead, Amy plots a course that is far more twisted. She plans the perfect murder: her own.

She intends to frame her sleazy, dirty husband for dragging her away from the city she loves and turning into someone she “did not agree to marry.” 

Filled with surprises on every page, this novel will have you rethinking breaking up with that special someone. 

Rating and Review:

This is my second time reading “Gone Girl” and it is better than I remember. The first time I read it was my sophomore year of high school in 2016, and I was probably a little too young to truly grasp the entirety of the book. At the time, I didn’t understand the complexity and compromise the Dunne’s marriage has, which is important the plot of the story. Marriage is a give-and-take situation, and throughout the course of the novel we see both Nick and Amy struggling to save or scrap the life they’ve built together.

First, none of the characters are likable. That’s by design, and a theme of Flynn’s other two books. I read “Sharp Objects” by her in 2021, and in that book too, I found myself angry at the characters, throwing my book down in angst.

Nick Dunne is a terrible husband and a terrible person. He lies to the police, he cheats on his wife with his student, is ambivalent to his marriage, he forces Amy to move from her home and is the pinnacle of “peaked in college” dude we all loathe.

Amy Dunne, while a genius, can be summed up in one word: crazy. I don’t think the American Psychiatric Association has a term for what Amy has. She even framed an innocent man for sexual assault, killed a man and used Nick’s frozen sperm to impregnate herself to keep him with her.

Yeah, in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have read this book at 16.

The plot itself is beautifully crafted. Flynn thinks of everything when it comes to framing her “death” on another person. Amy falsifies her diary, going from a perfect relationship full of love to physical and emotional abuse. She creates money problems, racking up credit card debt under Nick’s name and even gets him to increase her life insurance policy.

Yet as horrible as Amy is, I found myself rooting for her. Too often in media, women are shown as demure little flowers, left squished under their significant other. Not Amy.

She controls her disappearance, packaging herself as a person America will mourn and knows will turn Nick into the most hated man in the country. It’s almost nice to see women being evil in the same way men are. This is subject to intense online debate, with “Gone Girl” being a core pillar of the modern “Good for Her” genre, where women get what they want – by any means necessary.

This has attracted some debate, with Flynn even saying in an interview with The Guardian” that, “The one thing that really frustrates me is this idea that women are innately good, innately nurturing. In literature, they can be dismissible bad – trampy, vampy, bitchy types – but there’s still a big pushback against the idea that women can be just pragmatically evil, bad and selfish.”

That’s what I love about Flynn’s writing and her very unlikeable characters, she’s not afraid to buck traditional tropes and stereotypes surrounding women.

Strap in for this book, it’s filled with suspense and truly is unlike anything you will ever read. When you’re done with this read, watch the movie adaption starring Ben Affleck as Nick and Rosamund Pike as Amy. It will rock your world the same way the book will.

I give “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn five out of five stars. 

This story was written by Alex Wagner. He can be reached at alex.wagner@marquette.edu.