On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
I know this book is technically an older read, but it appears to be making the literary rounds once again, and has certainly jumped to the front of the bookstore shelves, or more accurately, “hot read” tables That was where I found it at my local Barnes and Noble when it was recommended to me by based on my love of the Maze Runner and the Help. Which is interesting, because this novel is nothing like either of the aforementioned stories, except in that it was exceptionally well-written and kept me turning the pages.
That’s not to say, however, that I liked it. Nor is it to say I didn’t like it. If pressed to give an overall opinion, I’m not sure I could. Honestly, I had mixed feelings regarding this book. As I said, it was incredibly well-written, and it drew me in immediately. We begin the novel with Nick, her hero (a very unfitting term, I must add) receiving a phone call from his neighbor. It appears the front door to his house has been left open and his cat is outside. And what begin as an annoyance soon turns into the stuff bad, like insanely bad, dreams are made of.
The rest of the story? Well, let’s just say it unfolds into a scenario that may be the stuff, for readers, bad dreams are made of. I liked Nick initially… I think. I was never sure what to think of him. He certainly wasn’t the most concerned husband one would expect to find. He had a weird habit of giving a crazy grin at all the wrong times and in all the wrong places—like during a press conference regarding his wife’s disappearance. Of course, this is explained—bad affect caused by, well, I’m not sure. Emotional brokenness? We’re led to believe he simply responds inappropriately to stressful and emotional situations. I get that. When I get nervous, I have a tendency to laugh, which got me in quite a bit of trouble when I was a teen. But there’s nervous behaviors and then there’s downright… I’d say psychosis but that might give too much away.
Then there’s Amy, his wife. We learn about her through her journal, a chunk of which I skimmed through. I’ve never been a fan of huge sections of backstory inserted between the pages of the real story. That being said, there were times when her journal interested me, and truly made me question Nick’s motives and heart. I found, at story’s end, I was wise to do so. But he wasn’t the only character I should’ve been doubting. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but this novel had some interesting twists for sure. And because of that, I loved it. However, I hated both characters, and I hated the ending even more. And yet, it’s become a best-seller, and someone even purchased movie rights, so…
For those planning to pick this one up or see the movie, I should mention, it’s not rated G and therefore contains more sensuality and crude language than I found necessary. (Then again, I think one can tell a great story without adding any sensuality or profanity.) And yet, for a secular novel, it was fairly tame in that regard.
Would I read it again? Maybe. Would I spend money to read it again? Um…
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery