This is the story of Nick and Amy, a seemingly happy couple living in the Mid West of the USA. However, on the day of their five year wedding anniversary, Amy disappears without a trace. Nick is unable to fathom what could possibly have happened, and willingly assists the police in their investigations. Signs of a struggle at their home make him believe she was taken, however he soon finds himself targeted by the police as their main suspect, and this makes him even more determined to clear his name and find out what has happened to 'Amazing' Amy - his wife is well-known as the only child and muse of a long-running children's book series written by her parents.
The story is incredibly cleverly written in alternating chapters between Nick and Amy, Nick's chapters written in the present day - in the days following her disappearance, whereas Amy's chapters are written as diary entries from five years before when they first became a couple and continue up to the moment of her disappearance. Nick hunts desperately for clues - and finds some very real clues as he completes the annual treasure hunt anniversary tradition that Amy had set up for him this year as on every other year, and he is ultimately completely shocked by what he finds, setting the tone for the second half of the book.
The author does a fabulous job of weaving her words so that you become so accustomed to Nick and Amy, to their personalities and their flaws so that when the biggest twist in the book is revealed it's like someone barrelling into you so hard that it literally knocks the breath right out of you for a few moments. I found this book so hard to put down that I literally read late into the night one Saturday night until I couldn't keep my eyes open one more minute, and then got up very early on Sunday morning as I just had keep reading to find out how it would ultimately all be resolved.
To begin with, I found myself completely unwilling to accept the realities of what did actually happen to Amy, it just wasn't what I expected and I had grown to completely accept the characters for who they were, so the reality really hit me hard. I also found myself swinging wildly in support between Nick and Amy depending on whose chapter I was reading, but it became evident that I had been played for a fool by both sides along the way, and long after the final chapters played out I couldn't stop thinking about them both, as a couple, as individuals, and about the part that the media plays in sensational disappearance cases like this. It is clearly very different to how it might have played out twenty years ago, and it really got me wondering how much sway the media can have in deciding who is right and who is wrong.
It also got me thinking - how well do we really know our loved ones? We can think we do, but can we ever, really, truly know what's going on inside someone else's mind? An interesting, and somewhat disturbing thought if you let your imagination run wild - I think it is honestly far easier to decide not go there and just accept that what's on the surface is all you really need to know. Something to ponder on, and this book has certainly resonated with me, so much so that despite knowing how it did all turn out, I am desperate to see how this gets adapted into a movie.
Gone Girl - the movie premieres in NZ in just a couple of weeks on 2 October starring Ben Affleck and Rosmund Pike.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is published by Hachette NZ and is available from 9 September.
Thanks to Hachette NZ for the review copy.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Gone Girl in exchange for my review. I am not being compensated in any other way.