When two pre-teen girls are found murdered and toothless in the small Missouri town of Wind Gap reporter Camille Preaker, now residing in Chicago, is sent to her home town to gain the inside scoop for her paper. Camille is reluctant to return to Wind Gap, origin of her deeply troubled past, which left her both physically and mentally scarred; due to her trauma Camille used to be a cutter, and now bears the scars of hundreds of words she gouged into herself during her youth. Even less inviting is seeing her cold, hypochondriac mother again, to whom she rarely speaks anymore, and her strange half-sister Amma, whom she barely knows. Nonetheless with her job on the line Camille returns to her mother’s Victorian mansion where she discovers that, like her, almost everyone in Wind Gap has dark secrets, and ugly scars to hide too...
After my sheer amazement with the brilliance of Gone Girl earlier this year, I could hardly wait to read another of Flynn’s novels. Sharp Objects is her debut, and although it is a good book for various reasons, it is flawed and I did not enjoy it as much as Gone Girl at all.
The characters are the highlight of the novel; everyone is nasty and disturbed, they are creepy and complicated, and you want to know more about them; even as you want to know less about them. Camille is an ugly and damaged character - refreshing traits for a protagonist. There is something very unhealthy and almost dirty about this book; a miasma of vileness hangs over it and the novel revels in the dark side of humankind. The writing is surgically executed and hooks you in, whilst the story is focused and stays on target, never meandering or leaving you wondering where the hell you are.
However, although Sharp Objects is dark and edgy - an aspect I like - it sometimes tries way too hard to be unique by using this almost Chuck Palahniuk level of darkness and weirdness. As such, it ends up being a bit too odd and disgusting in parts. Furthermore, behind the murk of hideous secrets, murder, drugs, abuse and mental health issues, Sharp Objects is really just an average thriller, with a very predictable outcome, and no interesting plot turns.
Sharp Objects is a book with numerous positives, but remove the pervading dark tone and you are left with a straight-forward, predictable plot. It is worth a read and I did enjoy it, but Flynn accomplishes so much more in her latest work, the thrilling and highly unpredictable Gone Girl.
My other Gillian Flynn reviews: