Kira’s #CBR5 “Review” #41: Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

sharp-objects-book-coverPeople who have read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl tend to have opinions about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. And I mean OPINIONS. Loved the first half, hated the second. Loved her, hated him. Can’t believe they cast Ben Affleck in the movie. And so on.

Personally, I was a fan. Flynn’s approach to the mystery genre was weird and interesting and unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable. I can get down with that. Which is why I’d been looking forward to reading her first novel, Sharp Objects.

Sharp Objects homes in on the same creepy vibe as Gone Girl, centered on characters who seem just a touch shy of believable, but interesting all the same. The novel focuses on bottom-tier Chicago reporter Camille Preaker, who is assigned to write about a series of murders in her small hometown. Spending time at home is trouble for Camille, who must face her passive-aggressive hypochondriac mother, her 13-year-old half sister (think Regina George meets Satan) and a slew of other characters from her not-so-great childhood. Truth be told, Camille is perhaps not entirely in her right mind, having recently spent some time in a mental institution.

[FULL REVIEW]

Advertisements

ABR’s #CBR5 Review #5: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp-objectsI was one of the few people who read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl and didn’t love it. Well, that’s not quite true. I loved the novel until page 412 and then …. seriously?

But I liked it enough to want to read more Gillian Flynn. So I’m starting with her first novel, Sharp Objects.

The main character of Sharp Objects is Camille Preaker, a fledgling reporter at a Chicago newspaper. When two children are murdered in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, Camille is asked to report the story. Seeing a chance to prove her mettle and visit her mother, step father and half-sister, Camille reluctantly agrees.

Once home she soon remembers the things she disliked most about her hometown – the cliques, the bars, the drunks, the sexuality and the violence often went with it. While her hometown is dysfunctional, her home is even more so. Her mother Adora is detached with Camille and infantilizes her daughter Amma, a 13-year-old bully who terrorizes the town and manipulates their mother.

Bit by bit, the crimes are investigated and Camille’s back story is revealed. She is an alcoholic and a cutter, and when she starts to see similarities between the dead girls, her bully half-sister and herself, she is tempted to relapse.

It’s hard to like Camille. She is flawed, both troubled and troubling. She doesn’t seem capable of making any good decisions. Just about the only redeeming thing about her is that she’s trying to redeem herself.

Although the novel is suspenseful, the denouement isn’t much of a surprise, partly because at some point in the novel every character seems capable of the crimes. But what elevates the story over an episode of “Law and Order” or “CSI” is Flynn’s writing. It reminds me of Stephen King – macabre, suspenseful and disquieting. While she imbues some graphic passages with an eerie beauty, she doesn’t shy away from overt sexuality and violence. Much of the novel takes place in Missouri (where Flynn grew up) and as a Midwesterner I can attest that her depiction of the Midwestern small town is spot on. Embarrassingly so. Because of that, I found some humor in the book. But mostly it is dark and chilling.

Personally I find books like Sharp Objects, (I’m thinking Carrie or The Lovely Bones or even The Road) terrifying because the monsters aren’t supernatural. We are the monsters.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 7: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

66559By now, everyone has heard about Gillian Flynn and Gone Girl. Most of us have read it, and for the most part, the reviews have been positive. I saw Sharp Objects, one of her earlier books, at the library last week, and picked it up knowing nothing about it — other than it was written by Gillian Flynn.

Sharp Objects is about Camille, a reporter at a third-rate Chicago newspaper. Her boss hears about a series of murders in a tiny Missouri town — the very town where Camille grew up — and sends her home to ask questions, do some research,write, and report back. Why is someone killing little girls? Is it someone from town, or an outsider? Are the police doing all that they can to find the murderer? And could Camille get a Pulitzer out of it?

Camille dreads going home, and its easy to see why. Her mother never loved her (and has told her as much), especially since the death of Camille’s younger sister years ago. Her younger half-sister Amma is out of control — sex, drugs, and drinking, all at 13. Her stepfather is more or less a non-entity in her life. And Camille has no idea who her real father is. Going home forces Camille to deal with a lot of things from her past that she would rather forget, including her teenage promiscuity and her past as a cutter. Camille’s body is covered in scars as proof of her self-medicating cutting. When she felt pain, at least she was feeling something.

I don’t really want to get to much into the story of the murders and the stories of the dead girls, as I fear I can’t get into it too much without giving the ending away. Unlike Gone Girl, I had figured out the ending about half-way through the story (with Gone Girl, no way I could have figured that thing out). But guessing who the murderer was didn’t make the story any less shocking.

Good God. What happened to Gillian Flynn that made her this dark and twisted and creepy? That’s all I could wonder while I read this book last weekend (home, sick in bed…this DID NOT make me feel better). In both Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, we’ve seen some truly horrible people do unspeakable things, all while appearing normal to those around them. While I think Flynn is an extremely talented writer, I’m just not in a rush to read her other novel, Dark Places. There’s only so much I can take.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

Kash’s #CBR5 Review #6: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

66559

With a quote on the front reading, “keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction,” I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but I knew it was going to be jacked up. I got a bit of a better picture when I peeked inside the cover, seeing, “I promise you will be thoroughly unnerved at the end.” Well, I just finished this book and I’m not even sure that I can write a coherent review but I want it out of my system, so here goes.

Continue reading

TylerDFC CBR 5 #2 Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp-objects-book-cover

Sharp Objects is a mystery/thriller told from the perspective of a narrator that is not unreliable so much as untethered. This is a dark and at times brutal book that offers little light and hope and puts the reader in the shoes of a character who starts off broken and proceeds to shatter as the story progresses.

Working as a reporter in Chicago, 30 year old Camille Preaker is called in to her editor’s office one day and briefed on a missing child case in her home town of Wind Gap, Missouri. Six months earlier another girl had gone missing only to have turned up dead. Her editor thinks it could be the work of a serial killer and wants to break the story first. So against her better judgement Camille returns to the home – and family – she fled years before. When the missing girl is found dead, suffering injuries same as the girl murdered 6 months before, the town is thrown in to a panic and Camille begins to suspect she knows the killer. This realization forces Camille, already fragile and raw after a recent stay in a psychiatric hospital, to confront the mother she can never please, the half sister she never knew, and the roots of her dark inclinations toward self destruction.

The set up for Sharp Objects isn’t unique. The mystery/thriller genre is full of cops, reporters, shrinks, etc., that work to solve that one case which conveniently ties in to their own back ground. By the half way point most readers are going to be convinced they know not only who did it but why. Rather than relief the book becomes unbearably tense as you wait for Camille to realize what is going on even while hoping you are wrong. Camille is a well realized protagonist because even as she makes incredibly poor decisions and edges closer to the edge the reader can still understand why she is so unstable. There are points in Sharp Objects where you want to slap Camille but she always remains sympathetic.

Even with a last act twist the story remains grounded in the plausible which makes the events all the more gruesome. Sharp Objects is much closer to horror than thriller as the events and motive are truly gruesome and hard to fathom. While not a graphically violent book, the psychological trauma inflicted is truly horrific and gives the novel a tone of helplessness that perfectly fits with Camille’s spiraling breakdown.

Gillian Flynn’s writing is precise and direct. She has an uncanny knack for capturing the emotion and essence of a scene without going overboard with descriptive phrases. More than anything else, Flynn puts the reader in Camille’s head space forcing you to accompany her on the journey whether you want to continue or not. My paperback copy includes a quote from the Chicago Tribune: “Keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” That sums it up perfectly. As much as you may want to close the book you are compelled to keep reading until the conclusion even as your stomach is churning. For those willing to take the journey Sharp Objects is a compelling and gripping story that takes the familiar and turns it in to something altogether darker.

While technically a mystery, Sharp Objects is not an airport read. Fans of dark fiction with mature subject matter should absolutely not pass it up.