So much hype has surrounded Gillian Flynn’s name recently. I purposefully avoided reading Gone Girl because I didn’t want my expectations to overshadow the reading experience. So I decided to start with her first novel, Sharp Objects, and read my way forward. My only real expectation for Flynn’s debut was that the subject matter would be dark – very dark. Which it was. Some of those images are permanently etched into my brain.
Camille Preaker is a journalist for a little read paper in Chicago. Her editor assigns her the job of reporting on two murders in small town Missouri, Camille’s hometown. In addition to discovering the nasty truth behind the grizzly murders of the two young girls, Camille must also come to terms with her own dark past if she ever hopes to move forward and live any sort of normal life. Her family is also batshit bonkers.
The only word that keeps coming to mind is disturbing. Where does Flynn get her ideas from? The creepiness in her novel doesn’t feel like fiction – her gritty imagery feels REAL. Real in a way I can’t honestly describe, but it gets up under your skin and lives there. She’ll lure you in with simple violence and then smack you across the face with visceral shock value. Her characters are layered, complex, and deeply insane. It’s like she’s cut humanity open and allowed the blackened guts of evil to splatter grotesquely at her readers’ feet. I loved the entire experience of Sharp Objects which makes me wonder about my own sanity.
What works most for me is Camille. She’s a strong protagonist – a fighter, a survivor. Her psychological damage is obvious and subtle all at once. She’s not someone you could be friends with, but she’s someone you can come to respect and feel deeply for. Flynn writes her flawlessly and I wonder just how much of Camille resembles Flynn. She just seems to know her subject matter so well.
The only real complaint I have is that the end seemed sort of rushed and oddly choppy. Not a huge problem though because most of the novel flowed well and the pages turned very quickly. I also wouldn’t recommend this novel to everyone because the subject matter is intense, the imagery cringe-worthy, and the story not at all for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy a great psychologically disturbing, dark and twisty story – give this one a try!