Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects (2006)

Sharp Objects

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 had a feeling I might like Gillian Flynn very much that’s why I decided not to start with her latest novel, Gone Girl, but with her first,Sharp Objects That I went out to get the second, Dark Places, right after finishing this might tell you how much I liked it. She’s an author to my taste, but I have to admit I had a few “Ew!” moments while reading it. She’s not one to shy away from describing very sick things. What I liked was the voice, the taut writing and the story as such. While I had a feeling where this was going, I was still captivated.

Two girls are abducted in Camille’s hometown. One was found dead, her teeth missing, the other is still being searched for. Camille is a journalist for a very unglamorous newspaper in Chicago and her boss thinks it might be a good idea to send her home to investigate and write a few articles that might help the paper get out of its slump and Camille to improve her career. Knowing Camille her boss may have thought that going back to the place that hurt her and face her demons might be a healing experience. It isn’t. Camille is badly equipped to deal with her past and exposing herself to her toxic family and diving deep into the shadow aspects of her hometown take their toll. The sharp objects of the title refer to many different things and one is tied to Camille’s illness. If you have seen the US cover, you know already what I’m talking about. Camille is a cutter, only she’s not happy with slicing her body, she carves words into it. Meaningful words.

Right after Camille’s arrival, the second girl is found. Her teeth are missing too. What a bizarre, yet gruesome crime. Slowly the book reveals the truth behind the crimes and the hidden secrets of Camille’s family.

I don’t read in order to find “likable characters”. Or to say it in other words – I don’t need to bond with characters at all, but I think, I liked Camille, and was, once more, surprised how many people who reviewed this mentioned how much they hated her. Why? I don’t get it. Or maybe I do. It is as if there were some mental afflictions people are more hostile towards. If you’d like to label Camille, I’d say she’s suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, one of a few afflictions, which get a lot of negative reactions. I thought Flynn drew a very believable character and I was rooting for her. I was hoping she might be able to come out of all of this healthier and stronger.

Sharp Objects is gripping and compelling and does a few daring things, one of which is showing that perpetrators come in many different forms.

This is my fourth contribution to Carl’s RIP challenge. Don’t miss visiting the RIP review site for other Mystery/Crime/Thriller/Ghost/Dark Fantasy related reviews.

34 thoughts on “Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects (2006)

  1. I have mixed feelings about Gone Girl. Yes a page turner but manipulative in the extreme due to the positioning of the narrative. In other words suspense is built but depending on how you feel about it, you may or may not think you, the reader have been worked over. Most people seem to love it and while I understand that, I didn’t come away from the book feeling as though I wanted to check out her backlist.

    Have you noticed how marketing parrots this or that book as ‘in the vein of Gone Girl’ or ‘reminiscent of Gone Girl’ ?

    • Maybe this one, as it was her first, wasn’t so manipulative? It’s something I really hate but I didn’t felt that’s what she did, I jet felt sometimes she went too far and at the same time I liked it. I’ll be rrading Dark Places next and if I still like her I’ll get to Gone Girl as well.
      Yeah, I noticed the “in the vein of Gone Girl”. It’s one of those hypes we will have to live with.

  2. Left a comment but it seems to have disappeared.


    I read Gone Girl and while it is a page turner, I felt manipulated b the narrative placement. I know most people loved this book and while I understand that, I felt worked over. Didn’t make me want to go check out the back list.

  3. I sort of skimmed through your review because I plan to read Flynn other books too after the diabolic Gone Girl. I am so glad you like it and I’ll work my way back to her earlier novels. I think she is better than Elizabeth Haynes, although Haynes “Into the Darkest Corner” was gripping enough.

    • I hope you’ll enjoy it. I must say I liked Into the Darkest Corner better than this. It had a lot of disgusting elements but overall I liked it because her writing is different, her voice is strong.

  4. Great review, Caroline. I remember ‘Gone Girl’ making waves last year. I didn’t know that Gillian Flynn had a backlist. Glad to know that you liked her first novel. It does sound a bit scary but the plot is quite gripping. Looks like Flynn specializes in dark themes. Looks like your RIP reading is going strong 🙂 Happy reading!

    • Thanks, Vishy. Yes, Gone Girl got many rave reviews.
      She touches very dark themes and is quite disturbing, I still liked it. Maybe I’ll think differently once I’ve read another one.
      I’m in a real RIP mood. 🙂

    • It could be. It’s not the type of thriller in which the main protagonist is in danger and it’s scary or so. But it has icky elements. I think Flynn likes to shock.

  5. This sounds really good! I am intrigued. I haven’t read much books with female character as the main character…and the ‘ew’ part you’ve mentioned here makes me wonder how ‘ew’ it is

    • It has a few elemenst you’d find “ew” as well, others that might bother you less but I could imagine, you’d like her. This one more than Gone Girl, I’d say. It has “Carrie” elements without being supernatural.

  6. I did enjoy Gone Girl, although I thought it lost all its subtlety and cleverness by the sheer excesses it went to in the end. This one sounds very disturbing – one for when I’m feeling strong! 🙂

  7. How ew are the icky moments? Will I be disturbed for a few hours or days? I’ve been meaning to read this author, but have been hesitant. I scare easily and I’m not into gore.

    • It’s not gory as such. There was a very short passage on a pig’s farm that shocked me but that’s because anything that speaks about cruelty to animals shocks me. Pig farms are cruel and someoone going there to enjoy seeing what’s going on is more than just “ew”. The other “ew” moments just illustrated how sick some people are. Stuff you could easily handle and brush off. Not the pigs though. Maybe you should rather start with Gone Girl.

  8. The investigator returning to their home town and discovering that to understand today’s crimes they have to finally face their own past is a bit of an utter cliche, which rather puts me off.

    It sounds like a solid commercial thriller, which is fine but for my more commercial reads I tend to prefer crime or sf. The thriller genre doesn’t tend to speak to me much. Not one for me then I think, but nice review as ever Caroline.

    • Thanks, max. I’d agree, don’t think this is for you. She’s got a distinct style though, the cliché was easily forgiven. But she likes to shock and I’m not sure how often I’ll appreciate that.

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  10. I feel like I must be the last person to yet read any of her books and not suprisingly have Gone Girl on my reading pile. I think I will likely enjoy her books as I do like a good gripping read! I can pass on those eww moments, but I can always skim those parts….

  11. Pingback: Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl (2012) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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