When Nick discovers the truth about his wife's abduction, his lawyer tells him to keep quiet. It was too complicated a story, he said. Juries and the public wouldn't be able to follow a complicated reality. People like simple, predictable stories, like "the husband did it." Nick needed to package an alternative story that the public could latch onto.
Gone Girl is just that. A simple, well-packaged novel with one twist that happens in the middle of the book, but it lacks depth and some basic believable characters. [Spoiler alert!! ]
A wife, Amy, is missing. All signs point to the husband, Nick. Halfway through the book, we learn that the chapters that were written in the wife's voice were works of fiction. (It's very meta.) Her diary was all lies and was designed to frame her cheating husband. We learn that we've been manipulated, just like all the other characters in the story. The wife eventually comes home and manipulates the husband even further to keep their marriage together.
That's how the book was sold to publishers. I could probably hone that last paragraph down to a single catchy sentence, the elevator pitch. Publishers want the quick blurb, the neat-o concept, the dramatic title. The words inside don't matter so much. They just want to make that book sale, knowing that most books sit on a coffee table and are never actually read.
Gone Girl is all pitch, and not enough substance. Amy is a two-dimensional psycho - unbelievable at times and inconsistent other times. The supporting characters are too predictable and wooden to feel real. She had no idea of what to do with Nick at the end.
The most honest voice in the book comes from the lawyer, who sneers at the stupidity of the public and their ability to be manipulated. Gillian Flynn, the author, takes this message to heart. She's giving us a well-packaged story, and we're buying it for our book clubs and our coffee tables. Like Amy, she researched the science of pitches and mystery novel plotlines and the formula for bestsellers, and gave us just that.
Call me old fashioned, but I don't like books that assume I'm stupid and easily manipulated by formulas and book club-friendly plot lines. I want a book that is more than a pitch, please.