Nick and Amy Donne have been married for five years. They’re normal, like any other couple. But something’s not quite right because on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary when Nick is at work, he gets a call from a neighbour. He returns home to find the door flung open and Amy gone.
Nick, like the good husband that he is, calls up the police immediately. At the same time, we are taken into a flashback of Amy’s diary as she details how she met Nick and how they courted and got married. Like the book’s title claims, every story has two sides.
But the deeper the police delve into this mystery, the more clues they seem to find that lead right up to Nick. There is chaos in their living room and considerable amount of blood in the kitchen. There are clear signs of a struggle that someone has hastily tried to cover up. There are strange searches on Nick’s computer and mysterious calls that he keeps getting on regular intervals on a disposable mobile that he seems to carry around. There are aspects of Amy’s life that Nick seems to have no clue about. But more than anything else, there is the fact that Nick seems to show little or no emotion regarding his wife’s disappearance. As the whole town pools their resources in a quest to find his wife, more and more people start becoming antagonistic towards Nick in their conviction that somehow, he is the one responsible for Amy’s disappearance.
As we see from the beginning, something is not quite right between Amy and Nick. A sense of dread envelops their relationship. This sense did not just suddenly pop into existence; it was built over the course of their five year marriage. But the exact nature of their marriage is drawn out slowly, as are their personalities. Amy’s diary follows the course of their relationship.
One of the underlying features of their marriage is a treasure hunt that Amy arranges for Nick on their every wedding anniversary. This treasure hunt has clues based on the important experiences and moments that the two of them have had throughout the year. The thing about it is that Nick dreads this treasure hunt because he almost never seems to be able to crack the codes and understand exactly which events were important enough to Amy to warrant her attention and be drawn in as a clue. This year however, though Amy is gone, the treasure hunt still exists and Nick finds himself surprisingly able to solve his way through her clues towards his anniversary present. And as he proceeds, something inside him starts to shift.
Gone Girl is a book of slow revelations. It plays with your head, it grips you from the beginning. After finishing with the first three chapters itself, you know that something or someone dark and sinister is at play here. The thrill of wanting to know how or what has you in its hold from then on.
The best aspect of this book is that Amy and Nick take turns at pulling the narration forward. What this creates is a sense of differing personality, whose accounts are at odds with each other. Its engaging because it manages to combine aspects of a thriller together with aspects of a book about love and link them together intricately in a manner that makes it hard to put down.
The beauty of this book lies in the tiny details. After all, Amy and Nick could be just about anybody. And the supporting characters here are just as gripping; be it Nick’s sister Go or Amy’s parents, the local police or Amy’s old stalker boyfriend.
Gone Girl is one of those books which keep you hooked. Though the suspense is somewhat predictable, especially for novel veterans, its still thrilling to know where the story is going, how it got there and how its going to wrap up. And this book does wrap up in a slightly unconventional fashion.
This is one book that will leave you gasping for fresh air by the time you turn over the last page.