Oh, look — I’m recommending an adult novel. Shocking, right? The thing is, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is too compelling not to talk about. (Incidentally, the last adult novel I recommended was also by Gillian Flynn, her 2012 thriller, Gone Girl. And today I bought her sophomore effort, Dark Places. You might say I’m a fan…)
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
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. With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.
Gillian Flynn has an amazing talent for creating deplorable characters that you can’t wait to learn more about. It’s really a remarkable gift, the way she pens unreliable, insufferable, repulsive people, yet makes them so fascinating, you’re sad when their stories come to a close. That’s not to say that all of Sharp Object‘s characters are horrendous; there were a few people within the pages of this novel who allowed me to retain my faith in humanity. I can’t say more about them, though, because to do so would be to ruin the experience for you.
I won’t say too much about Sharp Object‘s plot, either, for fear of spoiling its twistiness, but I will tell you that this book is a freaking trip. It’s disturbing in the most captivating way, and I am not easily disturbed. I experienced one particularly gruesome scene (Amma at the hog farm, for those who’ve read) at the gym on the elliptical and pretty much had to pick my jaw up off the floor while trying (and failing) to maintain my pace. *shudder* Several times I had to put the book down and step away. There were many passages that made my eyes go wide with horror. I can’t even recall how many times, while reading, I looked over at my husband and said, “Holy hell. This book is fifty shades of effed up.”
I read Sharp Objects through my own filter, from the perspective of an appreciated daughter, a loving mother, and a human being with a soul, and while this is very clearly fiction, in the back of my mind I kept thinking that the things that went on in this story do actually happen in homes and towns across American. Terrifying. While it feels wrong to say I enjoyed this novel, I certainly found it an entrancing, page-turning read. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller and are not easily offended, disturbed or freaked out, please do pick up Sharp Objects. (Big thanks to my mom for being NOTHING like Adora, and for lending me her copy of Sharp Objects!)
Tell me: What’s the last non-YA book you read and loved?