Released: September 26, 2006
“Sometimes if you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them.”
Gillian Flynn makes nothing but masterpieces flow from pages of a book. She spews excellence with every page, every word, every punctuation. Sharp Objects was Flynn’s debut novel, and while this may be the case, it is better than some established author’s works. She gives a compelling story and there’s twists within twists.
The story centers around Camille Preaker, a journalist living in Chicago trying to make a life for herself. She is from a small town called Wind Gap in Missouri. We learn early on that Camille is a cutter. She has been previously hospitalized for self harm and is out now trying to turn her life around. She works at a small newspaper and when news of a murder of a child gets out, her protective boss sends her to report on the murders. Camille returns to her hometown and we start to learn many of the reasons why she left in the first place. Her mother Adora is an over-bearing, strict, and overall thoughtless mother. She is remarried to a man named Alan and has a daughter named Amma. The relationship between Adora and Camille is strained, some of which is caused by the death of Camille’s older sister Marian when they were just children.
Upon arriving in Wind Gap, Camille tries to get information from the local police station and some of the town locals. Most people are closed off, not wanting to talk to a “big shot reporter” from Chicago. They don’t want negative attention on the town, or for it to seem like the police can’t do their job. She manages to get information from the sheriff, but not much. He does tell her that he thinks the murderer lives inside the walls of the picture perfect town of Wind Gap. This intrigues Camille. Soon after her arrival, another body of a young girl turns up missing. The murders have several differences, tying them both together and leaving everyone thinking that there must be a serial killer on the loose. One that targets young girls.
When Camille gets a story together, her boss asks her to stay longer to get more insight into the story. He thinks she’s really onto something. Against her better judgement, she stays. We start to get more of an insight into the strained relationship between Camille and her mother Adora. It seems that they’ve never had a good relationship, since even before her younger sister died. Camille’s new thirteen year old stepsister is a doting daughter at home, perfect and poised, almost too perfect. But away from home, she is a wild party girl. She shows a wild, crazy side. Taking chances and risks that young girls shouldn’t. Of course, in a small town it is chalked up to boredom. As Camille gets closer to the case, she gets closer to one of the detectives sent to help investigate the crime. His name is Richard. They begin to help one another try to unfold the mysteries in the town and get closer to each other than just sharing case notes.
The closer Camille gets to the case, the more she realizes that everything hits a lot closer to home. Wind Gap, the kids, the murders, her family.
I thought I had the twist to the novel figured out in chapter fifteen. I became engrossed in my theory and I was sticking to it. It seemed, at first, that I was right. It was daring and exciting and I loved that it went there. Soon, I realized that I was heading in the right direction, but took the wrong fork in the road. The path that Flynn went down was so much better than what my brain originally envisioned. It slowly unravels, but then as it does everything you’ve read begins to make sense. Every word, every comment, every statement. The whole novel ties itself together. It’s almost as if she is telling us two stories. I am more than satisfied with this book. I read the entire novel, aside from the first four chapters, within a day. The twist that Flynn gave us was dark and gritty, and honestly it took some major rocks to go there in my opinion, but she did it. She did it so well.
The characters written in this novel are written with personality and a mind of their own. It’s easy to walk in each characters shoes, and imagine what they are doing and how their mannerisms are. It’s easy to become them. I found myself as Camille, a quiet, troubled journalist keeping to herself. Partially because she’s ashamed of herself for the self harm, partially to protect herself from her past and from her mother. I imagined being Amma, almost bipolar in a way, pretending that she was not thirteen but an adult engaging in activities outside of her age range. I imagined Adora, the stoic mother who shows no compassion. The picture perfect mother to the outside world, but a force to be reckoned with at home. Snide remarks and curt looks.
I love a novel that makes me think, and I love anything with a horror/thriller element. Anything with crime. This novel went there. And it did a good job. It wasn’t too much, just enough. Definitely a book I would recommend to anyone, and I’m so excited that they are doing an HBO series with this. It will have just the right amount of grittiness to work.
Rating: 4 out of 5