Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Part 1 of 3)

Note: This is the first installment of a three part series reviewing New York Times Bestselling Author Gillian Flynn’s current releases.

Sharp Objects by Gillian FlynnTitle: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Adult Contemporary
How To Purchase: Kindle | Paperback (Amazon) | Kobo

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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.

Sharp Objects was a dark read, a tough portrayal of a woman still dealing with childhood scars. I liked it, but not as much as I wanted to, especially since I’d read Gone Girl first (which I review last in this series, since it was published last). Gone Girl was was so unrelenting that I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed.

This book was unrelenting, too, but the big reveal was softer. Suspicions bounced through my mind as I crossed the halfway mark. Camille’s realization of who the killer is was outshadowed by her fixation on who she–and everyone–thought it was. The big reveal was poorly done. If you blinked, you missed it. But then again, I’m chasing that Sixth Sense “aha” moment. Sharp Objects doesn’t deliver that.

On the other hand, I loved the portrayal of Camille’s struggles. Her cutting, her hatred of self, even her own apartment–transient, sad, empty. This is not a happily-ever-after story about a girl with a disturbing childhood. This is a gritty story about a disturbed girl with a disturbed childhood.

I had some trouble getting on board with the depiction of a small town, which distracted from my enjoyment of the story. Wind Gap, Missouri is a fictional town of approximately 2,200 people. I come from an Iowa town of 1,200 people. I know small town Midwest, and I’m sorry, but no town has eleven bars, a diner, an “upscale restaurant” (for serious, GiFly?), a hardware store, and several convenience stores. I found myself obsessing over these details way too much, going so far as to look up whether this was a real town (it’s not) and where Ms. Flynn originated from (Kansas City). If Wind Gap was a hub, then that makes sense, but she never called it out. She just blithely put it in there like it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all, which leads me to believe she’s not as well-versed in small-town America as she thinks she is. (Sorry, folks, Kansas City is not “small-town America.”)

Sharp Objects was a sharp debut from a future New York Times Bestselling Author. If you like this kind of dark, no-holds-bar story, you’ll like this book. Although I didn’t love it, I am glad I read it. I still looked forward to reading Dark Places (the next book I review in this series) and continue to look forward to whatever else she publishes in the future.

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