In today’s edition of “wow, I’m old,” the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is now 10-years-old and there may—finally!—be a sequel on the horizon.
It’s no exaggeration to say the landmark psychological thriller and first entry into the beloved “good for her” cinematic universe changed the game. The bestselling book presented the story of a typical marriage gone wrong—to not-so-typical, wildly twisted consequences. Gone Girl largely owes its indelible pop culture legacy to its wronged-wife-turned-compulsively quotable antagonist Amy Elliot Dunne, whom many female readers couldn’t help but root for as she exacted vengeance on her idiotic, philandering husband. Famously, the book was adapted into an equally iconic 2014 movie starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Emily Ratajkowski.
The marketplace of “domestic suspense” novels has remained saturated a decade later owing in large part to Gone Girl’s influence, as book critic Maris Kreizman pointed out in Esquire last week. And nearly all of these novels are being pushed down our throats with the phrase, “for fans of Gone Girl.”
In an interview with People to mark the anniversary, Flynn expressed interest in working on a sequel to the book. “I would say I’m a little more sure than never-say-never,” Flynn told the magazine of the idea of penning a follow-up novel. “I think I would be surprised if I didn’t, to be honest. But don’t hold me to it.” As for what the sequel would entail, Flynn pitched a story unfolding “in real time,” exploring Nick and Amy Dunne as “the true nuclear-bomb family.”
Quick spoiler alert for those who have somehow managed to avoid reading Gone Girl for a decade now: When Amy eventually returns after disappearing to frame Nick for her murder, she manages to keep Nick in the marriage by revealing she’s pregnant with his child.
“Now that the child would’ve been born 10 years ago, once that child hits 13, 14 in real time, I may indeed want to go back in and update and play around with what the hell would’ve happened once Amy was a mom,” Flynn said. “Because that is the stuff of wonderful gothic nightmares.”
Flynn also told the magazine she’s “proud” the book has stood the test of time, and is excited to see parents who first read the book in 2012 now “recommending it to their kids when they’re old enough.”
If “standing the test of time” means continuing to hold deep relevance today, Gone Girl meets and exceeds this standard in 2022. Gone Girl presented a masterfully depressing rendering of life at a time of economic depression amid the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis (economic tension is a focal point of the decline of Nick and Amy Dunne’s marriage). Today, gas in California is going for $7 a gallon while the federal minimum wage stands at a mere $7.25, student loan debt is a $1.7 trillion national crisis, and good luck trying to buy a house without billionaire parents!
Perhaps the theme in the novel that’s still most prescient is Gone Girl’s cathartic tribute to women’s rage, and women’s refusal to be submissive in the face of mistreatment. In the last decade, we’ve have endured the Trump administration, ongoing violent backlash to the MeToo movement, and the Supreme Court’s promise to end dignified life for women and pregnant people in America. Amid all of this, there are an infinite things I would like to say about men and the patriarchal systems responsible for these sexist indignities that would almost certainly land me on a national watchlist. But there’s nothing I could express with regard to my rage and everything I often fantasize about doing with it that Amy Dunne’s brilliantly wrought, long-game vengeance plot doesn’t deliver.
And then, of course, there was Amy’s proverbial takedown of the “cool girl.” Lest you forgot, the famous monologue in all its enduring perfection can be read below:
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? ‘She’s a cool girl.’ Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl. Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl.”
Amy is describing women who, today, are more commonly known as “pick-me’s”—women who work overtime as apologists for some of the worst male behaviors, in exchange for the societal benefits of male approval. Women like this very much still exist—take a quick peek outside the courthouse where Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s six-week defamation trial has been unfolding, and you’ll see swarms of them.
While there will always be some level of pressure on women to bend over backwards to make men’s lives as easy as possible, it feels like there are substantially less expectations and societal rewards for women to present as “cool girls.” Female pop acts like Olivia Rodrigo are widely embraced where Taylor Swift was once excoriated for her songs about shitty men; boy bands like BTS are experiencing mainstream success where One Direction and its throngs of adoring, tween girl stans were widely treated as a laughing stock throughout the early 2010s. As for the shattering of the “cool girl” rule that women ought to never complain about the fucked up things men do, publicly dragging shitty men to the seventh circle of hell has become so trendy that male millionaires whose lives have ostensibly been ruined can’t seem to stop crying “cancel culture” like the little bitch babies they are.
Anyway, a decade later, Gone Girl still feels like it was written just yesterday. And a sequel following Amy and Nick in an ultimately unchanged world sounds both perfectly frustrating and magnificent.