by Gillian Flynn was one of the big suspense novels of 2012. But far from just being a mindless thriller, Gone Girl is a literary page turner that is smart and witty. These book club discussion questions will help your reading group explore the plot, themes and ideas raised in the novel.
Spoiler Warning: These questions contain important details about Gone Girl. Finish the book before reading on.
- In the first third of the book, did you think Nick was guilty? Why or why not?
- In the second part of the book, once you know the truth, what did you think was going to happen with Nick and Amy?
- Do you think someone could actually plan every detail of a set up or murder as perfectly as Amy did?
- What did you expect to happen after Amy returned? Were you surprised by her "final precaution?" Do you think that would truly be enough to get Nick to stay?
- Early on in the book, Amy writes in her diary: "Because isn't that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood?" (29).Toward the end of the book, on the night of Amy's return, when she is making the case for going forward together, here is what she says and Nick thinks:
"'Think about it, Nick, we know each other. Better than anyone in the world now.'
It was true that I'd had this feeling too, in the past month, when I wasn't wishing Amy harm. It would come to me at strange moments--in the middle of the night, up to take a piss, or in the morning pouring a bowl of cereal--I'd detect a nib of admiration, and more than that, fondness for my wife, right in the middle of me, right in the gut. To know exactly what I wanted to hear in those notes, to woo me back to her, even to predict all my wrong moves… the woman knew me cold… All this time I'd thought we were strangers, and it turned out we knew each other intuitively, in our bones, in our blood" (385).
To what extent do you think the desire to be understood drives relationships? Do you understand how this could be appealing to Nick despite everything else?
- Nick stops strangling Amy and thinks, "Who would I be without Amy to react to? Because she was right: As a man, I had been my most impressive when I loved her -- and I was my next best self when I hated her… I couldn't return to an average life" (396).Is this believable? Is it possible for Nick to be more fulfilled in an extraordinary relationship where he is understood even if it is manipulative an dangerous?
- Nick once muses, "It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again… We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show… I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view keener, the camera angle and soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore" (72).Do you think this observation is true about our generation? How do you think this affects relationships? How does it affect the way we live?
- Nick writes,"I got secretly furious, spent ten minutes just winding myself up -- because at this point of our marriage, I was so used to being angry with her, it felt almost enjoyable, like gnawing on a cuticle: You know you should stop, that it doesn't really feel as good as you think, but you can't quit grinding away" (107).Have you experienced this dynamic? Why do you think it feels good to be angry sometimes?
- At one point, Amy quotes the advice "Fake it until you make it." Later, Nick writes, "We pretend to be in love, and we do the things we like to do when we're in love, and it feels almost like love sometimes, because we are so perfectly putting ourselves through the paces" (404).Generally speaking, do you think this is good marriage advice? Do Nick and Amy disprove this advice?
- Rate Gone Girl on a scale of 1 to 5.