As I read this book, I had a recurring thought. Perhaps I am naïve, but if there are lots of people in the real world that are like the dysfunctional characters in this book, then the human race is in big trouble. The reader will encounter manipulative, cruel individuals who abuse and are abused with abandon. Brilliant sociopaths, lowlifes who take advantage of others, misfits, completely unhappy and miserable examples of mankind, occupy the pages of this book. I was hard pressed to find one likable, and possibly normal being, who was not intent on using another, not intent on drawing attention to themselves, not intent on seeking fortunes, power and control using any means to justify their ends. As the pages turned I could not believe the developments, and yet, they were just real enough to possibly actually take place. The author captured her characters personality traits perfectly in the dialogue. The narrative twisted and turned and kept the characters and the reader twisting and turning in the wind, as well. What would happen next? Could the situation grow worse? The answer was yes, it kept getting worse and worse until the ending which was a bit of a surprise, but also in the realm of the possible, in the realm of the credible. My tension increased as I continued to read and I was, at times, afraid to find out the conclusion of this mystery. The author makes the unbelievable absolutely believable. These characters were sick people who found each other and fed off each other. They were all some kind of parasite.
Gone Girl, just kept surprising me. Nick and Amy, for all appearances, were both very self absorbed, very preoccupied young people, who wanted to appear to be the cool version of a perfect married couple, very much interested in maintaining their independence and not leaning heavily on each other with reproaches. They were "the beautiful people". However, they were hit hard by the economic downturn, losing their very well paid jobs in New York City. Experiencing these bumps in the road, they were forced to reassess their lives and relocate to Nick’s former hometown, where they started over. Together with his twin sister, and his wife’s money, Nick purchased a bar which he operates happily with his sibling.
Suddenly, one morning, on their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears in what looks like violent circumstances. After a lengthy investigation, with many shocking revelations, all fingers point to the husband, Nick, who is generally the first and major suspect in cases like these. The storyline will introduce the reader to all sorts of people who thrive on this kind of investigation, not only to help solve the crime, but also for the thrill of it and some for their fifteen minutes of fame, romance or even financial gain. (Nick’s wife Amy is the inspiration for “Amazing Amy”, a character in a children’s book series created by her parents.)
Occasionally, the book got a bit tedious, but just when I was ready to give up, the plot moved on and captured my interest again. The competing, dual narratives and timelines concerning the events Nick and Amy experienced, were engaging, but sometimes it took too long to switch from one of them, to the other. The plot used trompe l’oeill, sleight of hand, and misdirection to provide different clues and constantly pointed me in one and then another direction, as it did the police investigators. It worked so effectively, so perfectly that it kept me involved in the story, eager for more. Each time I thought I had it all figured out, another theme developed, the plot twisted away, and I was baffled once again.
It was really hard to like any of the characters. All of them were self serving, scheming in some way, working under the radar, suffering from one thing or another, often self inflicted wounds because of stupidity, greed, insecurity and perhaps, mental illness.
I was able to identify with the closeness of the fraternal twins because I have a twin brother. Also, I was able to identify with the in-law issues, since most of us do experience them in one form or another, but with twins, I suspect it can be more intense because their unusual closeness can cause jealousy. Regardless of any common ground I found within the pages, I could not identify with the issues that troubled any of the characters in the story. They were simply not nice. They lied, stole, cheated, inflicted harm to others, played ugly games with people, disregarded the feelings of others, used them at will and, in general, seemed to be completely corrupt in some way. Yet, haven't we all known someone like that?
All in all, Gone Girl, is a really good, exciting read!