Characters (and an author!) that make a lasting impression

Characters (and an author!) that make a lasting impression

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Every once in a while, you come across a book that makes a lasting impression.  Gone Girl was, for me, just that sort of book.  The amazingly well written characters' voices, combined with the masterful plot -- in which information and clues were slowly fed to the reader, keeping you guessing until you found out the truth, and even then the suspense was skillfully maintained -- had me hooked until the very last line of the book.  And that last line, incidentally, may be my favorite last line ever, as it was so perfectly in keeping with the character's voice.

Gone Girl is about a woman who goes missing, and her husband is the prime suspect.  His narration switches off with excerpts from her diary.  The story starts on the morning where she goes missing, and then backtracks to tell how they met and how, in their five-year marriage, things have gone downhill.

As a writer myself, pacing is one of those things I struggle with, so I have immense respect for any author who manages to pull off such perfection as found in Gone Girl.  As I mention, Flynn feeds little clues and bits of information so subtly and so slowly that you go back and forth on what you think happened.  In fact, the husband's narration is so skillfully done that he never actually says anything that tells you, unequivocally, whether he did it or not -- his side of the story is vague enough that you are never really sure.

In one of my favorite examples of how well done the pacing is, at one point the husband mentions in his narration his "disposable" cell phone.  It was the first time it had been mentioned, but it was done so casually that I actually thought I'd missed something important -- skimmed it and forgot it -- earlier on.  I even spent a few minutes backtracking, looking for an explanation of the cell phone earlier in the chapter!  It was mentioned quite a few more times before the narration gets to a point where it's explained -- and it turned out I hadn't missed anything, after all, because it was part of a major bombshell that the author dropped about halfway in.

I highly recommend Gone Girl, and I also recommend taking your time with it -- there are so many subtleties that it really deserves a close reading in order to fully appreciate the author's skill in crafting the characters and the plot!