Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
I was watching TV and someone in the show mentioned Agatha Christie. Right then I had the urge to read a mystery novel, preferably something Christie wrote like And Then There Were None. I ran to the library and unfortunately they didn’t have it. I came home and dug through my miniature library. I came across a book I bought at Wal-Mart by an author I recognized through the fame of her novel Gone Girl.
Sharp Objects was Gillian Flynn’s first novel, published in 2006. It received an Edgar Nomination for Best First Novel, which it definitely deserved.
The novel revolves around second-rate journalist Camille Preaker, a thirty-something woman living in Chicago. Shortly before the novel begins Camille had been in a psychiatric facility for cutting herself. Her editor calls her in to his office and hands her the assignment of a lifetime: cover the murders of two young girls in Wind Gap, Missouri, which just so happens to be her hometown. She accepts, against her better judgment, and drives down the next day.
Immediately she is thrust into the workings of the small-town: gossip, flakiness, hatred from all sides, including her own family. She digs into the murders, finding connections and beginning to enjoy the company of the only other person from outside the area: Richard, a cop from Kansas City. But digging into the murders only makes things worse between her and her family. Her mother doesn’t want her there, her stepfather only cares for her mother, and she barely knows her half-sister Amma. Camille and Amma, though, are more similar than they acknowledge due to their dead sister Marian.
Going home for Camille brings back the memories of cutting, why she started in the first place, why she wants to keep doing it but knows she must resist. This novel is a story of a woman’s journey to free herself from those horrible urges, but why it is so difficult for her. It’s about her relationship with her mother, who is nothing like what a mother should be. It’s about her relationship with her half-sister, and it’s about her ability to love, or her inability in some cases.
I loved the gritty prose Flynn uses in this story. It brings you into the story because it’s described how people really think and feel and speak to each other. She writes about things people don’t want to hear about, like sex and murder, but the way she writes about it gives it a dark, yet necessary, feel.
Given this was Flynn’s debut novel, I find it hard to criticize much. Her prose is fresh and gritty and her dialogue fits nicely to each character. However, something I found she could work on for future novels (something I will pick up on as I read more of her writing) was that sometimes it felt too infantile, like it was the first time she had ever written something. I’m not sure if that was through sentence structure or word usage, but I noticed it more definitively at the beginning, and less and less as the story progressed.
I also loved that this was not the typical household drama. There were twists and turns that really make a person think about what the mind holds and how it works on maintaining sanity.
The mystery of the murders, and the mystery of Camille’s relationships with everyone she meets really struck me, made me think, and that is something I praise highly in any form of speech or writing. Flynn has succeeded in keeping me attracted to her novels, and I hope to continue to be amazed by what she has in store in the future.
Gillian Flynn is the author of the popular novel Gone Girl. She has written three novels. Sharp Objects may be on the silver screen, but no official statements have been made.
To read Shelf Love‘s review, click here.