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19th October
2010
written by Steph

Are you a seasonal reader? When the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to drop from the trees, do you find yourself craving spookier reads? If so, Sharp Objects just might be the book for you. Sharp Objects tells the story of down-on-her-luck reporter, Camille Preaker, whose third-tier newspaper reporting job in Chicago has her returning to her hometown in Missouri, a place full of dark secrets and bad memories that she’d rather leave squarely in her past. Alas, there’s a serial killer on the loose who is targeting young girls, relieving them of their teeth along with their lives… All signs suggest a local is the cause behind the crimes, so Camille has no choice but to start poking around in places that might just reveal that her childhood horrors are far from over… and more deadly than she ever suspected. I picked up Sharp Objects during a McKay’s run after having read some very positive reviews of Gillian Flynn’s work on several book blogs. I was in the mood for a creepy thriller, and figured I might as well give it a try. If very creepy and very dark are what you’re after, this is a perfect book. I don’t normally have a hard time with harrowing narratives, but this one probably takes the cake in terms of the most disturbing one I’ve read in a while. There’s so much going on that keeps pushing the envelope into places that will make your skin crawl and make you feel uncomfortable, that it was a very hard book for me to read. The mystery is definitely interesting, but the book was so grim that it was not what I’d call a fun read. It reminded me at times of Sophie Hannah’s Little Face (which I reviewed here) in terms of the almost casual inclusion of extremely horrific moments that almost seem to loom up suddenly from nowhere. From rampant drug use, empty sex, alcoholism and cutting, there’s hardly a painful subject this book doesn’t touch upon at some point.  In a way, I felt like all of these elements were a bit of an overload such that it seemed like the author was throwing everything she had at you to make you queasy, and as a result the narrative felt a bit disjointed in the end. It’s like Flynn couldn’t figure out which bit of information in her story was the most horrific, so she bounced about from topic to topic ensuring that every button was pressed even if it wasn’t done necessarily all that well. Sometimes you want a book that’s essentially all plot – you just get on the book train and let it take you away… but this sometimes felt like it was (unsuccessfully) trying to be more, and I think that was a bit of a mistake on Flynn’s part. Additionally, Camille is such a damaged, self-loathing character that it is just extremely hard to spend so much time with her. I pretty much just wanted to finish the book so that I didn’t have to spend any more time with her anymore! The mystery itself was fine, though I felt like it often took the back seat to other “issues of the week”, which was too bad. I may have guessed what was going on before Flynn officially reveals it, but I wouldn't necessarily say this is a huge letdown, since the book is so twisted you’ll probably find yourself second-guessing your predictions anyway. It’s no Tana French, but as I so often say, not much really is! The one thing I thought was kind of cool and very weird about the book was the whole notion of needing to write words down in order to make them permanent. The idea that writing leaves a trail, makes things indelible, anchors words to our world. I just thought this was such an unexpected element to find in this book, especially when considering that it's a notion that some other books I’ve read recently have touched upon (namely, and Our Tragic UniverseMoon Tiger, but also The Broom of the System to some extent). It’s just kind of oddly serendipitous that four books picked at random in the past three months or so would all share this common conceptual bond. Probably for that alone I liked this book a little bit more than I otherwise would have. Recommended for those that like their dirty little secrets delivered like a slap to the face without any kid gloves. This is not one of those books that will restore your faith in humanity, and while I know some people crave the sinister and menacing (especially with the R.I.P challenge going on at the moment), this is maybe a book I would have been a happier person for not having read. Rating: 3 out of 5

8 Comments

  1. I am craving darker reads at the moment and your mention of Little Face intrigues me. I think there is a good chance that I’ll enjoy this more than you did, but I’m not convinced I’ll love it enough to make it worth buying it. I guess I’ll have to hope someone else persuades me to give it a try 🙂

  2. 10/19/2010

    It sure does seem like books about serial killers who go after young girls is a very popular genre! I am so surprised you could read this given how you feel about violence towards women!

  3. 10/19/2010

    Sounds creepy…

  4. 10/20/2010

    Hmmm. It does sound a like a good fall read. I have it on my shelf, so maybe its time I dusted it off and give it a read.

  5. 10/20/2010

    @ Jackie: There is always the library! I’m not sure it’s a book that has tons of re-read value (often how I feel about mysteries), but if dark is what you crave, then this is what you need to pick up!
     
    @ rhapsody: You know, although there was some very horrific violence in this book, it didn’t feel as gratuitous as the violence in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did. Also, I laughed a little when you mentioned how I feel about violence towards women, because it made me think of if I held the opposite stance! 😉
     
    @ Mystica: It was!
     
    @ Nadia: If you already own this one, then now is the perfect time to read it! But be warned: it’s creeeepy!

  6. 10/20/2010

    This one sounds really dark and creepy, and I always get interested in those kinds of books, but then when I am reading them, I start to feel anxious and really gloomy about everything. I think there is a part off me that could seriously love these types of books, but the bigger part of me really has a problem with all the violence and darkness. It’s a fascination that I have had to learn not to indulge too often, because the results are unfortunate.

  7. 10/21/2010

    I’m very much a seasonal reader, and as such I’ve been in the mood for dark/creepy. I was excited about this book as I began to read your review, but by the end I was thinking it might be a little *too* dark for me. Then again, maybe I’ll find myself in the mood for something just like this one of these days.

  8. 10/22/2010

    @ zibilee: I think that some dark books are just slightly macabre and so they can give a bit of a thrill but not infect your entire mood. This was a different matter, however, so if you find yourself susceptible to the tone of the books you read, I’d suggest staying away from this one!
     
    @ Nymeth: This is definitely one of the darkest books I’ve ever read, but certainly others have just found it deliciously dark where as I found it almost disturbingly so. I suppose only you can be the judge!

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