Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
Publication Date: 9-26-06
Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller
WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
I read and loved Gone Girl last year, so when a friend suggested that I pick up Sharp Objects ASAP, I couldn’t help but rise to the challenge. She described it as having lots of twists and turns, so I settled in for a roller coaster ride. But what I found, instead, was more of a slow-burn psychological thriller with each chapter scraping deeper and deeper past the surface of a seemingly idyllic small town — sort of reminiscent of the self-harm that the main character herself struggles with.
This book should definitely come with a warning. If topics of self-harm, rape, and abuse make you queasy or slide you a little too close to the dark side, you should probably pass on this one. I had a bit of trouble reading it myself. It was hard and way too captivating to listen to the explanations of what it’s like to have carved words into your skin and feel your scars vibrate as the way-too-harsh light of present day makes them come to life again.
Sharp Objects is a study in fucked up people. You will go to bed thanking God after reading this that you don’t have as many problems as these people do. But the truth is that we all have that fucked up side of us. Even the ones of us who would much rather have you believe otherwise. Which is exactly what Camille discovers when she comes back to her hometown after so many years of having escaped its clutches. While trying desperately to solve a series of murders so that she can finally leave town again having scooped a great story for her job at a Chicago newspaper, she has to suffer through life back at at home with the mother she’s convinced never loved her, especially after the youngest daughter of the family died when Camille was a child, and their new pristine little girl Amma who is suddenly way more than meets the eye.
I’m glad that Flynn did not decide to go the obvious route when it came to solving these murders…the truth was deliciously fucked up enough to suite perfectly the rest of the novel. And I’m glad that it was a little bit more complicated than it originally seemed. I think that I probably would’ve liked this novel enough to give it 5 stars if it hadn’t been first described to me as being filled with twists and turns. The whole time, I kept waiting for some crazy shit to start happening, and when it didn’t, I was slightly disappointed. But, truly, the book by itself was perfect. I think that my own expectations ruined it for me a little bit, because I had trouble justifying what I thought this book was going to be like with what it actually was. I think that the story works well without some bit switcheroo at the end. It’s not that you’ll necessarily see everything coming…but it’s much more of a slow, creepy trip down the stairs into hell than it is walking down a hallway and having monsters jump out at you from behind closed doors.
Ultimately, this book was amazing and I’m in awe of Flynn’s talent to write such deliriously deep and real characters who leave you wondering if there seriously are people out there like that, and being absolutely horrified to find out that the answer is “yes.”