Sharp Objects (Review)

January 20, 2014

Book cover for "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn.Title: Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn

Narrator: Ann Marie Lee

Publication Year: 2006

Pages: 254 (audio length: 9 hours 29 minutes)

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

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.

With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

This is definitely my favourite of Flynn’s novels. Gone Girl was the first one I read – like most people, when it hit the blogs and I couldn’t seem to escape it any longer – but, in the end, I liked both Sharp Objects and Dark Places better.

Maybe it’s because Camille reminded me a bit of myself as a teenager, or maybe it was because the story focused had a strong female narrator. Camille isn’t always strong, but even in her weakness, she’s more relatable than Nick in Gone Girl. There’s a strong sense of dysfunction in Sharp Objects, particularly in terms of Camille’s family. It draws you in, makes you want to understand what really happened there to make things so … awkward. Camille drops hints throughout the narrative, but you never really feel like you know the whole story until near the end. And it’s unclear for most of the book whether these things are tied together with the things currently happening in Camille’s hometown, or whether she’s just a little off her rocker.

I like that about this book, and about Flynn’s writing in general. She’s not afraid to have characters who aren’t necessarily likable all the time – or even the majority of the time. I think this is more true to life than so many selfless characters who are the protagonists in books. Nobody’s perfect, and I like reading about flawed but realistic characters more than I like reading about people I can’t identify with.

If you’re going to pick up Flynn’s books, definitely keep Sharp Objects in mind. It’s quite different from Gone Girl, but I personally think that’s a good thing.

Rating:

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