Had not for the genius and commercial success of Gone Girl, I wouldn’t have thought of picking up Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects. Since then, I’ve become overly vocal about my adoration for the rising thriller author. Now that I have read all of Flynn’s offerings, I can say that her first book, to some extent, didn’t match the sheer brilliance that Gone Girl was made of. However, Sharp Objects – being understandably underrated- also holds the same Gillian Flynn signature that still makes it an absolute page-turner.
At first glance, Camille Preaker is everybody’s average investigative reporter who sports a rather conservative wardrobe. The truth is, she is a cutter and her entire skin is a roadmap of etched words waiting to be cut again. They are her cry for help, which are sometimes drowned in the company of men and booze.
Returning to her own Missouri town Wind Gap, she tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of a young girl, whom by chance, is a schoolmate of her mean it-girl, half-sister Amma. Nine-year-old Natalie’s corpse was then found crammed between a beauty parlor and hardware store a couple of months after another girl’s body was found floating in a creek. And the serial killer’s signature? Both young corpses had their teeth pulled out. It’s a grisly mystery that the troubled reporter has to solve together with Detective Richard Willis.
But there’s no reunion to be had once she steps on the front porch of her mother’s mansion. It turns out, they themselves have some issues to sort out that both are reluctant to revisit. While Camille tries to reconnect with her estranged mother Adora and snarky half-sister Amma, she becomes increasingly haunted by the mysterious death of her younger sister Marian years ago. She revisits her past and begins questioning her shaky relationship with her mother to connect it with her current assignment- the reason she agreed to return to the childhood town she pledged no allegiance with.
Part of what makes Sharp Objects a compelling and exhilarating read is its characters, each of whom are described exquisitely to grab the reader’s interest. But two domineering characters in the person of Adora and Amma made it a few notch gripping.
Fragile as she is seen, Adora uses this as her power over the people who surrounded her. This is what’s making her in control of everything behind her caring and gentle demeanour. Amma, on the other hand, thinks her body holds the power to captivate and control other people- something she moulds from her mother dearest. But let’s not forget our heroine, Camille, who also fought her demons as she confronts the psychological puzzle that’s dogging her for years.
The thing that makes the book a heavily delectable read is Gillian Flynn’s brilliant prose, which is always present in her three books. It’s not always that I like to reread something word-by-word to savour its feels on my mind and body. Her unique way of telling an ugly and vile side of the story makes me want to read the words written on every page slowly, so it sticks long enough and feeds me with something I can take inspiration with.
Sharp Objects brings us a sneak peek into the choking relationship of a mother and child. It dissects the motherly roles that the society has enforced to women and the things people do to fight off their traumatic past and survive. It studies the human condition and how some events in our lives could leave us scarred for life. The book is too dark and discomforting for the faint of heart. It’s raw and violent, but not in a way that’s too gory to take in. However, it leaves you chilling and haunted for days.
“Safer to be feared than loved.”
― Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects
Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Published: Sept. 26, 2006, Shaye Areheart Books
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller