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Gone Girl is the bestselling crime thriller by novelist Gillian Flynn.  As I hinted earlier in this journal, once you begin reading Flynn’s clever story it becomes very clear why legions of fans love her work.  I am now among the legions.  If you are not, I highly recommend that you read Gone Girl and join.

Flynn is the master of her craft.  Telling her macabre tale in chapters that alternate between the first-person points of view of a husband and wife, she expertly weaves their spoken and internal dialogue to give the story a theatrical realism that is much harder to achieve in the third person.  Although some nuance possible only through a wider point of view is lost when the reader is trapped behind the eye of the protagonist, the story Flynn gives us is so compelling that we hardly care what anyone else might be thinking.  We are too busy holding on to the emotional roller coaster.

Usually, when the first-person point of view is used, there is a relationship of complete intimacy and honesty between the reader and the character telling the story.  The reader knows the truth because the reader knows what the character is thinking. What’s different about Flynn’s use of first person is that one or both of the narrators (I won’t say which or who), is lying.  It’s delicious to discover that we, the readers, have been manipulated by the subterfuge that is at the core of the story, and that we were reeled in as easily as the characters within it.

There were parts of this book that I found laugh-out-loud funny, where Flynn herself seemed to be peeking out from behind her characters’ personas to wink at the reader.  I would love to hear the author expand upon on the whole ethos of the “Cool Girl,” the premise of which is that all men are simpletons lured to their doom by women adopting a persona they have no intention of keeping after the marriage knot is tied.  The moronic, unhappy husband is left to wonder what happened to “Cool Girl” and eventually seek her in other “Cool Girls” who will lie to him as surely as the one before.  It’s an age-old chauvinism delivered with unimpeachable authority and convincing force by Flynn, albeit through the mind of a psychopath.

After it became very clear that I was loving this book, I couldn’t help but look at the reviews to see how many others agreed and how, possibly, anyone could not.  Surprisingly, it has a comparatively small but committed following of detractors.  The general gripe seems to be that the main characters are deeply disturbed, snarky New Yorkers (they are), who are completely narcissistic (true), that they often speak in self-satisfied tones about the comparative lack of sophistication and enlightenment of Midwesterners and other people they meet (check), and that no one would want to be either of them (quite right).  If you are looking for Bella or Allie in this book, you won’t find her.  If you admire only the art in which you can see yourself, you’re going to have a very disappointing day at the Metropolitan Museum and in reading Gone Girl.

Like a lot of readers I would have wished for a different ending.  You will too, I bet.  But the one Flynn gives us is no less convincing and, as the author surely intends, open to the possibility of a sequel to this thoroughly enjoyable, twisted tale.