“The face you give the world tells the world how to treat you”
Before I bought this book, I had little knowledge of it, despite the massive success of HBO’s mini-series based on this novel. All I knew was the praise for Amy Adams’ performance and the author, Gillian Flynn. Since Gone Girl completely threw me off my feet a few months ago, I decided to take a dive into another Flynn’s book. If you are the fan of her writing, Sharp Objects will not disappoint you, as this novel has all the elements that make her so popular and successful.
The choice of narrator for this book works on many levels. Her character is developed and unpredictable, escaping all stereotypes of female characters that can be found in fiction. At the start, the reader knows Camille Preaker is a woman with severe mental issues and an incredibly complicated relationship with her mother. But as the story progresses and the reader learns more about her history and life, her actions start to become more understandable. Camille lets the reader into her mind, that of a woman crippled with grief, whose demons come to the surface when she returns to her mother’s home. Her honest and raw narration makes the readers connect to her very early on in the novel, feeling like her companion in a search for truth.
Other characters in this novel, especially female, are no less fascinating than Camille. They are complex and complicated people, whose darkness is so present it is hard to feel any sort of empathy for them. This contributes to the story by adding to the overall unsettling feeling that overcomes readers of this novel as well as by helping Flynn build up and maintain suspense. Characters are written in such a way that any one of them could have committed the horrific crimes at the center of the story, it becomes very hard to guess who the perpetrator actually is and the final reveal of the killer’s identity surprised me, but it felt very logical, which was a huge success for a crime novel.
If you are looking for a story that will produce any kind of positive emotions in you, then Sharp Objects is definitely not for you. Flynn taps into some of the darkest sides of humanity and brutally draws them to the surface. As the reader follows Camille on her journey of solving crime in Wind Gap, they realize that this is not just a crime novel. This is a story about broken relationships and broken people in a city that celebrates the sexualization of a thirteen year old girl. There is no real sense of punishment for those who caused harm, or any real sense of closure. This lack of closure cements the disturbing feeling that is present throughout this novel.
If somebody skipped out on this book because they felt like it would be filled with predictable small town crime novels stereotypes, then they would be missing out. Flynn deliberately plays with the stereotypes, constantly keeping the reader guessing. Sharp Objects is not for readers who cannot stomach reading about scenes of physical, mental or verbal violence. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a story with a number of characters so well-written that the fact they feel so real is what makes them scary. In the end, Flynn’s story, despite all the darkness and ugliness residing just below its surface, left me wanting more.