Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

From Goodreads: 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.

If you've read Gone Girl, one of the wildly popular releases of this year, you'll have some kind of idea of what to expect from Sharp Objects, one of the author's earlier releases.  It's a very dark subject that deals with an astonishing array of issues: murder, self-harm, child abuse, mental illness, and the death of children.  It's not a happy book and I should warn you now that it doesn't have a happy ending.  It's not going to make you feel good.  That said, the writing is amazing. 

I think Flynn is a master at creating painfully flawed characters.  I can't even say love to hate, because each one of them has some sympathetic aspect that keeps you from hating them.  At the same time, none of them are truly likable either.  It hurts to read so much tragedy, and yet the characters all have relatable aspects.  I think my sympathy for even the worst characters in this book may be what makes this surpass Gone Girl for me.  As much as I enjoyed Gone Girl, I truly hated all the characters.  There weren't moments of sympathy for each one the way there are in Sharp Objects.

Entertainment Value
This isn't going to be for everyone.  Like I said, it's a dark book with a dark ending.  It's something that leaves you feeling haunted as opposed to hopeful.  That said, it was definitely a compelling read and one that I really enjoyed.  I was kept guessing through the whole thing, which is a huge plus.  I had various theories throughout the book and wound up being wrong on all accounts, which is my favorite.  My friend Joyce is reading it right now and I'm really enjoying hearing her theorize as she reads it. 

It's bleak, but it's also chilling.  I think if you're a fan of thrillers or of dark mysteries this is going to be right up your alley.  And if you read Gone Girl and liked it, this one is a must-read.


  1. This is on my list for 2013! I too did not like any of the characters in Gone Girl. For some reason, this was a trend in a lot of the books I read for 2012.

    Being a former newspaper reporter, I can't wait to read about the "second-rate newspaper" job. :)

  2. I'm a little nervous to read this one because of the darkness everyone talks about, but on the other hand I'm really excited to try her other books! I definitely plan on reading both her first books this year!

  3. Gahhhh this is sitting on my Kindle and your review is making me drool, I want to read it so bad. Need to finish my current reads so I can get to it!!