Immediately after finishing Gone Girl and discovering that the author had more books, I had to get my hands on the rest of Gillian Flynn’s releases. This led me to Sharp Objects, the first of Flynn’s novels, which I had high expectations of.
The story takes place around Camille Preaker, a journalist from Chicago who has just completed a brief stint in a psych hospital, and whom is sent on an assignment back to her hometown to unravel the case of two little girls who were murdered. Whilst staying with a mother she doesn’t get along with and a teenage half-sister she barely knows, she begins to delve back into how own her past, which brings her closer to discovering the truth.
Sharp Objects is a thriller but not what I would necessarily call a page-turner. Yes, it was easy and quick to read, but I didn’t have moments where I struggled to put the book down in the same way I had with Gone Girl. For me, it didn’t have the overwhelming sense of excitement or suspense that usually goes hand-in-hand with the genre. In my opinion, it was also lacking a clever plot twist as I found myself guessing what the outcome would be before it was revealed by Flynn.
That is another problem; readers have to wait until the end of the book, at least the last twenty pages, before the case concludes. This would not have necessarily been a bad thing if the remainder of the book wasn’t so slow paced, or had some twists and turns which keep the reader intrigued.
What I did like about the book was the characterization. Firstly, there was no black/white outline of what is good and what is evil. Each of the main characters were quite complex, I felt. I think Flynn portrayed this well as there was no character to me which was really likeable as there were no good cop/bad cop roles. Yet, somehow, the characters were relatable. They were ordinary people from a rather dull town living their lives in an ordinary way, yet keeping some of their deepest secrets under wraps – much like many of us. The interesting characters almost made up for the rather dull storyline.
Regarding the plotline of this book, I would call it dangerous. It is filled with crime, murder, sex and deep rooting psychological problems. While I found these underlying themes fascinating, some may find them a bit disturbing. I found the, let’s say “small town activities” particularly interesting. Readers coming from a relatively small place will find themselves recalling instances of severe underage drinking, oversexualized teenagers and drug usage and will no doubt reflect on how damaging living in a small and not very well facilitated place can be. A love of gossip and spreading rumours was another theme which frequented the pages of the book and people who have escaped a claustrophobic home town will understand just how refreshing this can be. These themes, for me, kept the storyline and its darker aspects more down to earth. They showed that it is possible for evil to emerge even in the most mundane of places.
Overall, I found this to be a good read, but nowhere near on par with Gone Girl, although it may not be fair to compare them as Sharp Objects did come first. It was definitely not one of the best books I have ever read, nevertheless, I do find myself still analyzing the story two weeks later which says something for the impact which this novel can have. The most important thing to remember is not to read this book if you are particularly squeamish or easily offended by promiscuous young girls, self-mutilation and drug usage.
What have you been reading lately? Can you recommend any good thrillers?