Book Review: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
(432 pages, 2012)

It’s the story that failed to capture me due to unremarkable and uninteresting characters.

Gone Girl is a tale of tepid unrepentant characters who torture themselves and everyone around them with overwhelming selfishness and bull-headed ignorance. The first-person point-of-view that alternates from chapter to chapter is a unique “he said, she said” style, and the brilliance of the scheming by the antagonist is a big highlight, but none of that can completely overcome the character problem.

The characters are all self-centered and lacking in both empathy and sympathy. More than that, the only characters that weren’t bathing in a toxic mixture of smugness and cynicism were the two detectives. By the time the plot twist that so many other readers are celebrating rolled around, I had lost all interest in the protagonist and his plight. After soldiering through the first half of the book, watching as Nick made stupid mistake after stupid mistake, outright ignoring advice to the contrary from even his most trusted friends and family, I couldn’t dredge up even the slightest amount of interest in his plight. I didn’t care if he made it out, dead, alive, or otherwise.

Does that mean that I celebrated the villain? Only in the depth of how deeply the chess game was framed. Other than that, the villain’s intended plot was derailed based on the most simple of events that emphasized how much the character was lacking in even the basic street smarts one could attain from watching a police procedural on television. The entirety of the protagonist-antagonist relationship is built upon trying to find the way out of an emotional hole by continuing to dig straight down. To drag in the overly clichéd pseudo-quote that haunts every corner of the internet, these people keep doing the same thing over and over, honestly and sincerely expecting a different result each time. They are well beyond insane.

Reading this book became the same exercise in patience and endurance that was reading Twilight. In both cases, popular opinion told me that it was great and wonderful, so I fought to the end looking for that treasure. Alas, I never found the wild goose.

At the end of the day, the big plot twist doesn’t justify a cavalcade of uninteresting and uncaring characters. I just don’t see the draw in this story, and it certainly won’t be enough to draw me to the theater, despite how much as I like Rosamund Pike, when the cinematic adaptation opens in October 2014.

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