A few months ago I read in my pop culture bible, Entertainment Weekly, about a hot new book called "Gone Girl." The magazine was more than happy to review the book as the author is their former pop culture critic, Gillian Flynn.
Before I go on, if you have not read this book and you do not want to know anything about the plot and the eventual outcome, do not read any further! Spoiler alert!
"Gone Girl" is Flynn's third novel and tells the story of a young couple, Nick and Amy as their picturesque marriage becomes something strange, dark and unthinkable.
The book is told in two voices - Nick and Amy's. When the story begins Nick's narrative is in real time and Amy's stories are flashbacks told through her diary. In the first 50 pages we learn that Nick and Amy met in New York City and we believe that Amy is madly in love with Nick. After several years living blissfully in Manhattan, Nick moves Amy to Missouri with him to care for his ailing parents.
Nick and Amy are going about their regular, depressing lives in Missouri when Amy goes missing. From the moment her disappearance is reported to the police, your heart pounds. As Flynn reveals each piece of the dizzying puzzle you find yourself more and more confused.
As with every missing wife story line, the police's number one suspect is the husband. For the first half of the book you are convinced that Nick killed Amy. You believe it and you want to know exactly how it went down.
Then, all of a sudden, poof! Amy's narrative changes and she admits she set Nick up. When I read these pages I gasped out loud and had to put the book down. My mind was blown. Several of my co-workers had already read the book and I texted them immediately, "Amy framed him! What?"
As the story goes on, with both Amy and Nick's voices in real time, you find yourself unhinged as you learn the details of Amy's months of preparation to ruin Nick and as you watch Nick make move after move to prove his innocence, avoid reporters and find Amy and serve her up a big heaping spoonful of karma. I nearly lost it when two of Amy's former childhood enemies confirmed to Nick Amy's spiteful and calculated behavior. That's when you knew he was really in trouble.
As I approached the final pages of the book I couldn't help but hope that either Amy or Nick would finally make a move to finish off the other one (gruesome, I know, but the book warrants that reaction). In the final pages we learn that Amy and Nick are living together again and Amy announces they are expecting a child. I have to say, I really hated this ending. I felt like Flynn got tired of writing such an intricate story and asked herself, "How can I end this swiftly?" I was incredibly disappointed. It felt like a cop out. In fact, in her acknowledgements for the book, Flynn writes, "My editor, Lindsey Sagnette, is a dream: Thank you for lending me your expert ear, for letting me be just the right amount of stubborn, for challenging me to do better, and for cheering me on during that last stretch - if it weren't for you, I'd have remained '82.6 percent done' forever." See! She was most of the way through the story and got stuck on how to finish it!
Many of my friends who read the book disagree with me and say the ending is perfect and is meant to show that Amy and Nick deserve each other. Many of them also urged me to consider that the ending is meant to imply that she will screw him over again. She can't help herself.
Despite my overwhelming disappointment with the ending, Flynn's writing skills are undeniable. Her characters are so real and flawed, as the best always are. She has the gift of being able to write both female and male characters convincingly, which is no easy feat. I was particularly impressed with the characters Go (Nick's sister), Rand and Marybeth (Amy's parents) and Tanner (Nick's slimy attorney).
If you read the book and thought, "This is going to make a great movie," you are absolutely right. Reese Witherspoon's production company has already optioned it. I can't wait to see who they cast as Amy and Nick.
Did you read "Gone Girl" and what did you think of the ending? Perfect or lame? Who do you think they should cast in the movie?
*Images courtesy of Gillian-Flynn.com.