Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Book #46: Sharp Objects
Agh, I know, I've been reading slow lately! Life has been busy and I haven't had as much time as I would have liked to just sit and read, but every free moment I had lately I grabbed this novel and spent as much time with it as I could. I don't remember where I first heard about Gillian Flynn, but she is an incredible writer whose popularity is ever growing. Sharp Objects is her first novel, published in 2006. Since then, she has gone on to write two more wildly successful novels (that are taking me forever to get a hold of from my local library because they are in such high demand!).
Sharp Objects is a twisted mystery novel that will grip you until the very last page. It's protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a reporter living in Chicago and working for a small, forgettable newspaper. Her boss sends her back to her tiny hometown in Missouri to cover the kidnappings of two young girls within the past year, one of which ended in murder. The other girl had recently gone missing with no trace of her dead or alive having been discovered yet. Camille reluctantly returns to her childhood home in Wind Gap, hoping to get her story and be out as quickly as possible.
However, soon after she arrives, the second young girl, Natalie, is found dead. That makes two murders in the tiny town within a matter of months, whereas prior, there had been basically no violence for the miniscule police force to have to deal with. A detective is pulled from Kansas City to help out the incompetent policemen with the investigation, but it seems that even he has no leads after months. Camille attempts to get at least a few facts from the citizens of Wind Gap to report back to her boss in Chicago, but everyone is either speculating based on rumors, or has clammed up entirely, refusing to help out the woman who was once their neighbor and friend. There are clearly some dark secrets within this town that Camille is desperate to uncover, and fast.
Because Camille is not just facing the issue of not having enough to report about. During her stay in Wind Gap, she is back in her old home, with her mother, stepfather, and stepsister, all of whom are basically nuts. Adora, Camille's mother, refuses to acknowledge what Camille is there to do, feigning melodramatic grief about the deaths of the young girls, whom she seems to have barely known. She also refuses to accept the death of Camille's sister many years earlier, an event which also has some mysteries surrounding it. Amma, Adora's other living daughter, is only 13 years old, but acts much older, engaging in dangerous and illicit activities, and acts as a surprisingly creepy ringleader to her friends. Camille tries to put Adora, Amma, and the memories of her deceased sister out of her mind, but her scars, both emotional and literal, refuse to fade.
I loved this novel because Camille, the protagonist, is far from one-sided. Of course she's the good guy, the one we root for, but she has a twisted past that is revealed bit by bit rather than handed to us on page one. She has many layers to her, a product of the traumatic events she has faced throughout her life. Though facing her childhood is so much more than difficult for her, she continues to try to get to the bottom of the story, not just because she is a reporter, but because she wants justice.
Flynn's debut novel is astounding. It's sometimes creepy and graphic, yet always compelling and it crawls inside your mind and refuses to leave. Stephen King calls it "an admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights". He also agrees that this story will stay with you long after you finish it and won't let you go. Prepare yourself for a novel that will grab you in its clutches, terrorize and boggle you, and then stay and wait for your reaction.