Welcome to another Thoughts On book review. You’ll see these pop up on my blog whenever I’ve found a book I just can’t put down.
You’re at home alone and you’ve just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Immediately you:
a) Grab your computer and open up a new document in Microsoft Word- you’ve GOT to blog about that ending!
b) Peek through the blinds looking for any sort of suspicious activity outside on the front lawn. None of your exes are that crazy, right? Right!?
c) Search YouTube for the Heat Miser song from “The Year Without A Santa Clause” and blast it at full volume while you dance around like you did when you were ten (no judgment here).
d) All of the above.
I knew Gone Girl was going to be good. I mean, I knew it was going to be really good. After all, you don’t score Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris on a movie deal for a book that was just okay. And, as I read, I was pleased to find that the plot was as thrilling and as intricately woven as I had hoped. But can we please talk about that ending?
Because if endings were men, dear god, I think I’d be in love.
In all seriousness, I find it rare that an extraordinarily good book has an equally good ending but, ladies and gentlemen, we have struck gold here. Thanks to the amazing characterization of Amy Elliott Dunne, the ending of Gone Girl magnificently blends together the necessary denouement with the mastery of craft that had me hugging the paperback to my chest for a good five minutes straight.
I’m not kidding. I actually did that.
For four hundred and some odd pages we’re split between Amy and Nick’s narration, going back and forth between consciousnesses in this he-said-she-said battle. But throughout the entire book, we gain a sense of Amy’s character. Spending time in her head clues us into how she thinks and everything we can’t ascertain from her thoughts, we learn from her husband, Nick, in his description of her. Needless to say, by the end of the story we’ve become very familiar with our main female character.
Amy is vengeful (with a little bit of crazy on the side). She’s found a way to punish practically every act of misconduct that has been done to her since she was old enough to feel the stings of impropriety. When her boyfriend cheats on her, she fabricates a rape story with him as the villain. After a highway trucker flips her the bird, she scatters fake accident reports up and down the east coast just to get the driver fired. And of course, when Nick starts sneaking around with Andie behind her back, she frames him for murder.
It’s like a competition to her. She has to out-crazy her rivals by enacting revenge plots that are ten times more extreme than the original grievance. But in addition to being a psychotic, god-playing minx, Amy is a perfectionist. At one point during the investigation, Nick puts it best when he says,
“She is righteous. She is one of those people who is never wrong, and she loves to teach lessons, dole out punishment.”
And so, at the end of the novel when I’m-gonna-get-you Amy hacks out a post-kidnapping lifestyle for herself and bullies Nick into settling down with her, we’re all still sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next dose of exaggerated punishment to be delivered. Lick finger, turn page, wait. Lick finger, turn page, wait.
But it never comes.
Amy is expecting a child. She contemplates what to get Nick for their next anniversary. She sits there peacefully while her doting husband rubs lotion on her baby bump at night. So, what? Are we just supposed to accept that Amy has moved on? That she is actually going to let her meticulously planned revenge plot fall to the wayside and settle down with Nick for a second stab at happily ever after? I’m sorry, no. After everything she’s done to ensure Nick’s destruction, I just don’t buy it. Something has to be brewing up inside that pretty little blonde head of hers.
And then Gillian Flynn gives you it. Just when you think you’ll spend the rest of your life flipping through the final pages of monotonous plot conclusion, looking for hidden clues of upcoming sabotage, Flynn gives you an absolute masterpiece. The perfect ending served up on a silver platter. In the very last line of narration, Amy says,
“I don’t have anything else to add. I just wanted to make sure I had the last word. I think I’ve earned that.”
And just like that, everything is back on track. With an attitude like that, it is obvious that Amy’s competitive nature has far from fizzled out. And if we know anything about Amy, we know that her need for vengeance cannot possibly be satisfied with a word.
These will certainly not be her last.