**This review contains spoilers**
I had a hard time with this book. I really wanted to like it...the story could have been the same, yet told a little differently, and I could have really liked it. I am also having a hard time figuring out how this movie will be one anyone else will like, even with Ben Affleck as the star. Honestly, I had written this book off after about 5 hours of listening to it because it was so awful. But in the last two days, I have had lots of cleaning and painting to do, so instead of letting TV distract me, I just started listening to it again. Kind of wished I hadn't.
This book is divided into 3 parts. The entire book is told with each chapter indicating the time of the year by how many days have passed since the disappearance of Amy Elliot Dunne, the wife of Nick Dunne. We find out in the Part One that Amy and Nick are both writers and have moved to the Midwest after having lost their writing jobs in NYC. The chapters are told alternatingly from both Amy and Nick's perspectives; Nick tells us the events as they are happening when Amy goes missing, and Amy's perspective is told in a series of diary entries, some are flashbacks to their early relationship together while others are journals of their current life together. Both tell of their marriage, but seem to be contradictory. As Amy tells of Nick as this wonderful man whom she doted on and shared wonderful times with but has serious bouts of anger and whom she begins to become afraid of, Nick tells us of an unhappy woman whom he didn't seem to get along with. You aren't really sure which is correct or even if Amy is alive or dead at this point, and you aren't sure if Nick had anything to do with it or not. In Part 2, we learn that Amy is, in fact, alive. Not only alive, but we learn that all the diary entries we've read were fabricated by her, as part of a complicated "disciplined" master plan designed to frame Nick for her murder. We learn she is a manipulative sociopath and has been so all of her life, and has been willing to go to great lengths when she feels people have wronged her. We also learn Nick has been having an affair on Amy for a year, which Amy has known about and is the reason she has planned this horrible fate for him. He also figures out that she has plotted this very meticulously and so as a counter-strike, he begins to use the massive media attention and acting to plead to Amy to come home, mainly because he really wants to kill her. In Part 3, his acting works and Amy does return home. We then learn just how much of a sociopath Amy is and how "cunning" she can be, and what lengths she will actually go to, to get her way.
I have two real gripes about this book that made it hard for me to enjoy it. First, the cussing and vulgarity in this book are astronomical. I am not a prude, but if I had to hear one more cuss word, I was going to scream. Second, the author drags this book out so long and is so wordy for no reason, I lost interest quite a few times. I had a hard time getting through Part One. I would have been happy with a few chapters telling us about the events, but it just went on and on and on and on. So much so that in the audiobook I listened to, I actually skipped over 8 chapters to get to Part Two and didn't miss a beat. Part 2 picked up and was really interesting. The story telling was faster and events were happening more quickly. The part of Desi, her "stalker" from high school and the one she turns to when she is on the run and out of money will be played by Neil Patrick Harris in the movie. I actually can't wait to see him in this role - it's literally going to be what Barney Stinson would be like if he was obsessed with one woman. He's rich, he's suave and he's also insanely controlling of Amy and basically takes her prisoner in his huge house. When they meet initially after she is robbed, they are in a lounge at a casino, and the whole time I was picturing Neil Patrick Harris, and when his character says, "Amy, you can come stay with me..." I just heard in my head, "It will be...legend....wait for it....ary!"
Amy's character in this book is cunning, crazy, psychopathic, and is supposed to be smarter than everyone else in the room. For me, I had a really hard time believing she has been able to outwit and outsmart everyone without anyone standing up to her and no one ever getting the best of her. I thought about this later and came to this conclusion....she is able to outwit her very smart husband, outmaneuver the police and FBI, get it past her parents that she has been this crazy person her entire life, is a murderer with no real remorse, has set up several people for acts they didn't commit and gotten away with it, and spends a whole year plotting and thinking of this full proof plan that brilliantly frames her husband, and yet when put up against two "dumb" rednecks in the Ozarks, gets outwitted and robbed? I kind of started liking her, until the end of the book. I have a hard time believing that this woman would try so hard to get Nick to stay married to her that she would use her own baby as leverage in keeping him around, when she so clearly hates his guts and he so clearly hates her (and tells her every day until he finds out she's pregnant). She ends up being this pathetic, needy woman who lives obliviously in this fake world she has created for herself and the only thing that redeemed anything for me was that Nick stayed with her because of the baby, but said that he stays with her and coddles her because "he feels sorry for her that every day she had to wake up being her."
Had this book been shorter and the author tried not to hit us in the face with every cuss word and synonym of the male and female anatomy at every turn possible, I think I might have really liked it. I thought I might end up liking it in the middle of the book, but by the end, the characters were so sad and unlikeable, so narcissistic and such hateful human beings, I was ready to be done with them and leave them to their miserable lives. They ended up together, in this twisted, sickening marriage built of manipulation, lies, and disgust, yet also have this crazy appreciation for each other and what the other person does to make them who they are.
A lot of people really seemed to like this book, but I think what they really liked is that the story line at it's most simple was a really good one. The way the author set you up in the beginning and takes you on twists and turns is great. I just wish she would make her writing style less, "Hey listen to me. I can write lots of words and am a strong enough woman to use the F-word many, many times in my novel, just like a man would do," and just let the story tell itself, because at its' skeleton, it is a good story. But I wouldn't recommend anyone spend 16 hours of their lives to hear or read it.