“Sharp Objects”- Book Review

I’ve had Gillian Flynn on my radar for quite some time. When I first saw the movie Gone Girl, I had two things on my mind- the first being how great David’s Fincher’s unflinchingly bleak style matched the darkness of the story, the latter being how strong and sharp the writing for it was. As it turns out (and as it usually is) the author herself was responsible for the screenplay adapted from her own novel, and she was praised for both projects. Since then I’ve wanted to check out her work, partly because I want to support fellow female writers. Gone Girl was a tempting choice, though having already seen the film version, I would’ve gotten bored. I knew the twists. There’d be no surprise. Instead I set my sights on Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects.

Camille Preaker is a young journalist who’s trying to piece her life back together after a much-needed stint in a psychiatric hospital. She faces a speed bump in her road to recovery when she’s sent back to her small hometown of Wind Gap to cover the murders of two young girls. All at once the demons of her past catch up with her- the long-standing grief of losing a loved one, the self-destruction, the mutilation, her troubled relationship with her mother. Camille struggles the handle to come to terms of the horrors of both the case and her life, and must prevent herself from unraveling because of it.

What strikes me the most about Sharp Objects is how well Flynn puts you inside the character’s head. It certainly helps that the story is told from Camille’s first-person perspective, though it takes a lot of skill to convey her state of mind so strongly that it radiates off the first page. Flynn’s concise, fragmented style of writing, while bothersome at times, gives the impression of a damaged woman who’s constantly on the brink of a meltdown. I could feel Camille’s depression and frustration. I could practically hear her voice.

The story is more of a personal thriller than a crime thriller. What I mean by that is the focus is much more on the effect the environment, her family and the murders have on Camille and less on her trying to solve it. The people surrounding her are, for the most part, just as troubled as she is, which makes for interesting dynamics. To be honest, I was able to figure out who the killer was near the middle of the book. But Flynn pulls a clever trick where she made me think I was wrong at first. She makes you think it ends one way when really it’s only a single layer of a dark, complex truth.

Overall Sharp Objects is an excellent read. It’s dark, it’s beautifully written, and it’s an emotional dive into a tormented female perspective, which is something I believe Flynn is fascinated by. So if you’re like me and want to dip your toe into some of Gillian Flynn’s work, this is definitely a good place to start. It’s a quick read that I’m sure will satisfy anyone with a quench for a dark yet emotional story.

Cosmic Grade: A

 

 

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