Last week, I mentioned in my Five on Friday post that I had just finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, and better yet, that I enjoyed it! So here, as promised, is my review.
As of late, I’ve been stuck in a reading rut. I’m just not enjoying anything. Everything is just okay. Enter my real-life-friend and colleague Alexandra, who gives out the absolute best book recommendations. At the end of May, she shared a post about psychological novels she enjoyed, and mentioned Sharp Objects. I loved Gone Girl, so I was looking forward to giving this one a try. I am so glad that I did! Ultimately, I give it four out of five stars.
Gillian Flynn published Sharp Objects in 2006, well before her bestseller Gone Girl hit stands in 2012. The synopsis from Goodreads is lengthy and (in my opinion) a bit too descriptive of the plot, so if you’re vehemently anti-spoiler, skip this part entirely:
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.
It was hard to read Sharp Objects without comparing it to Gone Girl. Both are set in rural Midwestern towns and involve people who are making a homecoming. Both deal with a protagonist and a cast of supporting characters who become less likable the more you read. Other than that, though, there are no major similarities. Sharp Objects is, undoubtedly, a Gillian Flynn novel — her prose is unique, as is her style of storytelling, which unwraps details in a deliberate and suspenseful way.
The greatest distinction between Sharp Objects and most other books, including Gone Girl, is that it is dealing with psychological health in an unexpected and heartbreaking way. The result is a portrait of our protagonist and the people around her that both endears them to us and sickens us. Gillian Flynn is confronting psychological issues that don’t normally see the light of day.
Ultimately, I’m giving Sharp Objects four out of five stars because I sincerely enjoyed it, but I felt it should have been longer — or rather, I wanted it to be longer. The ending of the story provided a satisfying level of information, but it was provided very abruptly. I would like those details to be carefully and deliberately unwrapped, just like the rest of the story.
Overall, if you’re into psychological novels and/or Gillian Flynn’s writing, I highly recommend picking up this book. Most of your libraries will have it, and it is a truly satisfying book.