by Gillian Flynn
When two girls are abducted and killed in Missouri, journalist Camille Preaker is sent back to her home town to report on the crimes. Long-haunted by a childhood tragedy and estranged from her mother for years, Camille suddenly finds herself installed once again in her family's mansion, reacquainting herself with her distant mother and the half-sister she barely knows - a precocious 13-year-old who holds a disquieting grip on the town. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims - a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
I was bitten by the Flynn bug.
If you saw my review of Dark Places you'll know I finally read some Gillian Flynn, and that I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped I would. On reflection, however, I'm thinking of bumping Dark Places from a 3 star read to a 4 star read because I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it, and I do genuinely think that Libby Day is one of the best heroines I've read in a while.
Naturally, when I realised I had actually enjoyed Dark Places more than I thought, I decided it was about time I picked up Sharp Objects. I'm not all that interested in Gone Girl, but as Sharp Objects sounded like the kind of small-town, Southern Gothic story that I like to read I was really eager to dive in. And I really wasn't a fan.
Unlike Dark Places I don't think this is going to be a case of me misjudging my feelings, because I haven't thought about Sharp Objects other than to think 'man, that was effed up'. Seriously if you're feeling a little fragile, do not go anywhere near this book. It's so depressing!
Obviously I wasn't expecting sunshine and rainbows. There were lots of depressing bits in Dark Places too, but in Dark Places they felt like they were there for a reason. Sharp Objects, perhaps because it's Flynn's debut novel, simply feels as though it's been written fucked up for the sake of being fucked up. I found this story so difficult to believe.
Sharp Objects reminded me a little of Carrie in that it's set in a small American town with a freaky, obsessive mother and her abused daughter, but I actually found Carrie easier to believe. It's a book about telekinesis, and I don't even like Stephen King's work that much.
I was hoping for so much more from this book. Parts of it were interesting, such as Camille being a journalist who hated having to do a lot of the things that journalists find themselves doing, such as hounding bereaved family members for quotes after a murder has occurred, but I couldn't quite understand why she also had to be a fairly poor journalist. Why couldn't she be a brilliant writer who didn't like the nitty gritty parts of the job, because as someone who doesn't like being a journalist and also isn't the best writer around I struggled to understand how she still had a job. Her boss feeling sorry for her just isn't a good enough reason for me.
And then there are her mother and her terrifying younger sister. Her mother was a fairly decent villain, but her sister made no sense to me whatsoever. How the hell has this kid gotten away with her behaviour? One minute she's playing with a doll's house and the next she's taking drugs, and while part of me liked that juxtaposition between childhood and adulthood, I just couldn't believe that any town would consider it normal for 13 year old girls to go to house parties and have sex with several 18 year old guys.
It's worth mentioning that if you don't like to read books that feature underrage sex and/or sexual assault, I wouldn't recommend you go near Sharp Objects. There's nothing particularly graphic, but there's also no way that any 13 year old girl can give any kind of consent.
Honestly this was almost a 1 star read for me because, after Dark Places, I just didn't like it at all. I only ended up giving it 2 stars because Flynn, unlike Camille, is a brilliant writer. I mean, hey, I still finished the book, didn't I?
I feel like you really have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy this book, and I'm not quite prepared to do that with my crime novels. I want my crime novels to freak me out because I believe they could happen, not because the protagonist's sister reads like one of the twins from The Shining.