Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Originally Published: 2006
This is a middle shelf book.
I struggled with the rating on this one. On the one hand, I read it in one night. I didn’t want to put it down, I wanted to know more, I wanted to see what would happen. On the other hand, none of it was particularly surprising or mind-blowing to me. I found it a fairly obvious “whodunnit”.
It was well-written, I have few complaints stylistically. I do think that I may have done this book a disservice by reading The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison first. The Silent Wife felt meticulous, as if every single word was laid out according to plan. It was perfectly paced, calm when necessary and catapulting you forward in a rush of excitement at other times. After hearing multiple comparisons between Harrison’s work and Flynn’s I expected the same exactness of plot, the same way of bringing the reader along with just enough information so they know what’s going to happen but not enough to bore them. I found, however, that Flynn’s style was slightly less mature in its delivery – much of it felt obvious to me and I didn’t feel nearly as taken by its characters as I wanted to be.
It wasn’t all disappointing, though (and disappointing may even be more harsh than I intend in this case) – there were multiple times while reading Sharp Objects that I cringed, gasped, or absolutely needed to know what was on the next page. I have a hard time with any showings of self-harm as it can seem that I personally am feeling what a character is doing to their body, much the reason why Black Swan was so difficult for me to watch, and the thorough descriptions of this behaviour were enough to put me on edge. We are gluttons for punishment at times, we humans, and this uncomfortable knot in my stomach I felt was enough to get me to carry on.
The characters are interesting, fairly well-developed but at times a little stereotypical. However they do create a tangled web of creepy deception, unsettling one-liners, and murky loyalty amongst each other. If I were to choose one thing that Flynn does extremely well it is creating characters you are grateful for never having encountered in real life.
I would recommend this book to others. I know a few people who have read it and were much more taken by it than I was and it’s a very far cry from awful. I only wish to have felt more often that the author was in control of the story and not the other way around.