Sure, there are times you might be jonesing for a 1200 page philosophical classic about battles won and lost; marriage proposals made and broken; births and, ultimately, deaths. And other times you might be in the mood for an actual list of white things that are or are not as evil as Ahab’s White Whale.
But sometimes, let’s face it, it’s pretty satisfying to read a sharp, smart thriller that you can dive into and devour in 48 hours flat. So says Nick, one of the slippery narrators of Gone Girl, the latest bestselling novel by KU alum Gillian Flynn. Honeymooning with his devastating bride Amy, Nick observes: “She’d made a grim figure on the Fiji beach during our two-week honeymoon, battling her way through a million mystical pages of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, casting pissy glances at me as I devoured thriller after thriller.” Nick knows it, I know it, and you know it: sometimes it takes a thriller to hit the spot.
On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy Dunne of Gone Girl goes missing from her perfect Midwest home with perfect husband Nick. After spending the first few years of their marriage together in cosmopolitan New York, the couple has relocated to Nick’s hometown in rural Missouri to open a neighborhood bar and take care of his ailing mother. But on their anniversary morning, Amy disappears from the living room. Coffee tables are overturned. Vases are broken. There are obvious signs of struggle. And Nick can’t provide an alibi. Soon the cops discover Amy’s diary, and we’re enticed to jump to conclusions. Was their home truly happy?
I loved the fun, twisty, whodunit aspect of Gone Girl, executed so well under the author’s surgical precision. But my favorite part, by far, was Flynn’s signature — savage — perceptivity. It’s what makes Flynn stand out from the rest of the thriller-writing pack. Gone Girl is ultimately a portrait of a marriage on the rocks, and Flynn relishes peeling back the layers to reveal how it all went wrong, step by teeny step, as two very flawed characters fail in their vow to love and to cherish. Flynn makes it absolutely delicious to take sides, and you will — and then you’ll change sides (I promise). And then you’ll change sides again. But whose side will you take in the end?
Its surprising twists and turns make Gone Girl the perfect novel to read with a book buddy. Whatever you’re in the middle of reading now, I recommend a 48 hour detour — you’ll have a juicy debate waiting for you when you get to the last page. - Rachel, Programs