Published: June 5, 2012.

“Fantastic. Worthy of it’s praise.”


What Is ‘Gone Girl’ About?

Keeping it spoiler free… Nick Dunne, a small town guy who made good in the big city as a magazine writer blames the recession and the loss of his job for the decline of his marriage to his intellectually superior wife with a substantial trust fund. Questions of his motives and character begin to arise after his wife’s disappearance on the morning of their fifth anniversary. As the search for his missing wife plays out over the ensuing days, guilty suspicions are fueled into a national frenzy by the media circus camped outside his house. Is this idyllic, everyman truly capable of murdering his wife?

Why Did I Read ‘Gone Girl’?

Going into this, I was mindful that I had seen the film, so the experience of reading the book was likely going to tainted to some degree. I knew that the movie had stayed close to the source material, so in turn I knew the twists and turns that were ahead. As I read it, I also knew I would envisage Ben Affleck in the role of ‘Nick’ and Rosamund Pike in the role of ‘Amy’.
So why read it? Simply put, this novel is considered a triumph by just about everyone that has reviewed it. As a writer, I want to read and learn from the best, by reading the best… So experiencing the written format of this story seemed inevitable.

What I Liked About ‘Gone Girl’

I guess my first surprise was that this story is told in the first person. It’s obvious now I think about it but, due to the array of characters I’d seen during the film, I assumed it would be third person. In any case, this is a fantastic first person novel told through the eyes of two people experiencing something incredibly haunting and memorable.
Desi Collings gets more dialogue, back story and is a far more intriguing character than the watered down version Neil Patrick Harris plays in the film. Tanner Bolt also gets more time and as a result is a more interesting character.
I can understand why Desi’s mother was written out of the film adaption, but enjoyed her short lived stint in the story all the same.
Part three, the final act of this story (which in the film is little more than ten minutes), is flushed out in disturbing detail. This part alone justified reading the book.
Also the beginning of part two contains a fantastic rant on the expectations modern men have of women. I won’t go into details as I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s brilliantly written.

What I Didn’t Like About ‘Gone Girl’

Reading ‘Gone Girl’ has made me think about the two mediums of book and film, or more specifically what happens when a book is adapted into a film.
The book will or should contain the most character rich format of the story and this will compliment a film if it’s read first. Whereas watching the film first, I believe, gives you an entirely more diluted experience when reading the book. Thus I have learnt the rule of thumb has to be: book first, film second.

It still grates on me how slowly Nick tries to solve the clues left by Amy. I appreciate it’s building to the big twist, but this story is being told realistically and these clues could leave to where she is hiding or what has happened to her. You’d think the police would be all over it, you’d think that Nick would be devoting himself to it. But he doesn’t, there’s a good chunk of the story where the clues are literally stuffed in his back pocket.

Good Or Bad?

Was it any good? Fantastic. Worthy of it’s praise.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. But I’d suggest: Book first, film second.
Would I read it again? Maybe. I’ll certainly read parts of it. It’s a fantastic example of how a story should read when told in the ‘first person’.
Here are some other reviews:
On Writing (A Memoir Of The Craft) by Stephen King
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The Martian by Andy Weir

What’s on the list?
The Lafayette Campaign by Andrew Updegrove
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

Any suggestions?
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David P. Philip

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