17 July 2010

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

I'll be honest.  I enjoy being freaked out by a book.  I enjoy reading about dark and disturbing topics that make you want to make sure you're reading with your back to the wall so nothing can creep up on you.

Here's the deal with this book.  It is dark, disturbing, twisted, manic.  These words continued to swirl in my head as I read about Camille Preaker in Sharp Objects.  Words are important to Camille because she's lived the larger part of her life by carving, cutting, and slicing words all over her skin.

There is no question about it. I could not have been more caught up in the disturbing novels of Gillian Flynn, both Sharp Objects and Dark Places. I really can't tell you which one was my favorite, but I'm thinking it's neck and neck, with Sharp Objects coming out as the winner by just a hair. And it's simply just because when I first picked it up, I had no idea that the disturbing and dark story would be one I would get so swept up in.

While traveling for business, on a whim I picked Sharp Objects while waiting for my flight. I don't even know how to explain the premise without re-freaking myself out. But, allow me to valiantly try. 

Camille Preaker is a woman in her thirties, and a journalist at a small newspaper in Chicago who is sent to research and write about a horrible crime of two children murdered in her hometown.  It's a hometown that for Camille, has such terrible and dark memories, that she is repulsed and afraid of taking the assignment.  Why would she want to visit the old Victorian home that her compulsively neurotic mother lives in, and which her gorgeous teenage half-sister that she barely knows seems to run?  The home is the reason why Camille's turned into a vegetarian, which is fairly expected since it's situated on her family's pig farm, and the sounds of slaughter don't really sit well with Camille. Camille's already experienced enough with her sister's death when she was young, and has been compelled since then to destroy her body by razor-writing insults like whore and nasty over every inch of her body that she can cover up with clothing.  Not to mention, she just came out of a six month stay in a psychiatric institution.  She's supposed to be in recovery but she sometimes will drag her palms over sharp edges to make them bleed.  Going back to Wind Gap, Missouri, the source of her traumas to investigate the murders of children just isn't a good idea.

Dark.  Disturbed.  Twisted.  Manic.  These are the words always swirling through my head as I read.  I was held hostage by this book, and for two days during my business travel, I attended all meetings anxiously, waiting for when I could run back up to my hotel room after dinner and dive into the pages.  Gillian Flynn's writing left me with an uncomfortable feeling that I (secretly) thoroughly enjoyed as I turned the pages and pulled more of Camille's life into my mind.  And what I thought would be the ending really wasn't.  Suffice it to say, when the mystery of the murdered children is truly solved, I was stunned and couldn't sleep.  I thought about this story for days and still can't quite put it out of my head.  I absolutely recommend this novel!


  1. This sounds so intriguing, but I don't do scary well.... Were you up because you were frightened or because you were just thinking about the book?

    Remember, this is coming from a gal who can't watch Law & Order: SVU without checking under beds and in closets...

  2. Oooh, Picky Girl, if you are checking in closets after SVU, then I think Sharp Objects might be a little too disturbing! It's not for the faint of heart, BUT, if you're willing to take a chance, read the first couple chapters and see what you think. It's excellent, but deals with some very tough issues!

    I was up because it was freaky, but I was more stunned by everything I had just read -- everything that the character went through and dealt with, and how it's written...it had me thinking for days about it!!

  3. I love these kinds of books too Natalie, they really draw me in and hold me mesmerised. I like them dark and twisted and confronting!

    I just reviewed a book called Dance with Snakes from El Salvador that is very strange, but utterly engrossing. If you don't mind twisted stories, you might like this. And I've read a couple of reviews of White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi that makes me think I'd like it too - dark and creepy and experimental. Have you read it?

  4. This books sounds intriguing. I mooched off of BM on a whim and now I'm glad I did, because after reading you review it sounds lik it will be quite a read. Great post!

  5. Sounds like a great book--I've never heard of it before, will have to check it out!

  6. Giraffe Days - Dances with Snakes looks really interesting, I just might have to pick that up! I'm all about the stories that are disturbing and freaky!

    Nadia & Sogni e Sorrisi - Prepare yourself for a really uncomfortable feeling as you read it; it's VERY good, but definitely not for the faint of heart, so tread lightly! I really enjoyed it, though, so not sure what that says about me...! :)

  7. Wow that sounds like a disturbing story. I don't think I could read this one!

  8. Jean -- Yes, this is definitely a much grittier and darker novel, and it is so very, very good! If you every do pick it up, let me know -- would love to know your thoughts!

  9. Oh, man, I LOVE Gillian Flynn's books! Always enjoyed her reviews when she was an Entertainment Weekly critic but had no idea she was capable of such twisted stuff.

    I didn't think I could handle Sharp Objects but it was so good I could not put it down. She also challenged my moral beliefs, which I found really interesting. You know how she defended her, ah, behavior with the football team to the journalist? It was disturbing but Flynn is such a gifted writer, she made me see it from Camille's POV despite my feeling skeevy about it.

  10. Pop Culture Nerd -- Can you believe how sick and twisted this book was? I had no idea that it was going to be the way it was and I was hooked into it. And there were so many parts of it that really made me feel a little..dirty, but Gillian Flynn does such a GREAT job with it that you end up really understanding why the character did what she did. Still made me want to take a shower after I read the story, though...!


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