Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: Sharp Objects

I finished this book last week, but I've been having a hard time collecting my thoughts on it. I know that I love Flynn and loved this book, but it's hard to explain why. As always, Gillian Flynn delivers a novel that will have you staying up late into the night just to see what happens next. Flynn writes about difficult subjects that you may not want to know more about, but soon you can't look away and need to know more. Her characters are so broken, and she doesn't promise a happy ending. But I think maybe I like authors that do not feel the need to wrap things up in a neat little bow for their readers. So, here we go: 

"WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart. Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. ..."

As a Chicago reporter, Camille has seen her fair share of horrible and gruesome stories. It's all part of the job. But her boss learns that a girl has gone missing just 9 months after another young girl's murder in Camille's home town of Wind Gap, Missouri. Anxious for a break on the story, he sends her down there despite the fact that Camille hasn't been back in years. 

Wind Gap holds no fond memories for Camille. Having grown up with a cold, controlling mother, Camille was anxious to escape right after high school. Upon her return, she learns that she is an oddity in this small town where quarterbacks marry the homecoming queen, have babies, and continue gossiping about each other as if no time has passed at all. 

After only a few days back at home, the second girl's body is discovered and it becomes official that a serial killer is on the loose. In a small town like Wind Gap, every one becomes a suspect while no one can believe that one of their own could be the killer. Camille is forced to stay at the home of her mother, Adora, and step-father, Richard. They have a 13 year old daughter, Amma, who is the queen bee in middle school, and heaven help everyone once their group enters high school. 

Staying in her childhood home brings up many long-buried emotions for Camille. Her mother is a perfectionist, and always loved primping, preening, and being the center of attention. Adora, the daughter of an uncaring and aloof woman herself, openly admits that Camille was hard to love. Camille had a younger sister, Marian, who died at a young age. Interestingly, Adora was overly caring and doting for Marian, who would "accept" Adora's love in the form of nursing her to health whenever she was sick. Adora's lack of affection and love for Camille leads her to start cutting - but not just cuts into her flesh but words. Words that burn and flare for Camille whenever she feels something. Her skin speaks to her, tingles and buzzes and needs to be calmed. Camille did spend some time in a psychiatric hospital for her disease, and being home again causes her to struggle with the temptation and need to cut again.

As the investigation unfolds, Camille becomes entangled in the details and starts to regret her decision to come home more and more. Despite her budding relationship with the homicide detective on the case, Camille starts to learn that maybe she doesn't want to know the truth about the Wind Gap murders. 

This was technically Flynn's first novel, although it is the third one I have read of hers. It is a very good start, although the reader can see that her talent has progressed with each novel. I felt like the subcharacters were not quite as developed in Sharp Objects as they were with Dark Places or Gone Girl. Still, this novel is one that I will recommend to anyone that will listen. 

Flynn is so good at making the reader think they know what's going on, and then giving a twist that will shock you at first but then having you thinking "well yea, why didn't I see that!?" About halfway through Sharp Objects, I was sure I knew who the murderer was. So much, in fact, that as the last chapters began to unfold I thought "yes! I knew it!" only to have the rug completely pulled out from under me at the last minute. 

Dear reader, if you are looking for a book to fall into, this is the one for you. I wouldn't steer you wrong. 

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