Camille is a reporter working out of crappy newspaper, and for once her editor wants to be on top of a story. In her hometown, young girls are being murdered, and it’s starting to look like a serial killer. Camille says she’s on the job, but she’s not entirely equipped for what going home dredges up.
I got onto a real Gillian Flynn kick. Gone Girl started me out. Dark Places propelled me forward. And I ended here, with Sharp Objects. Not to spend the whole review comparing her books, but I have to say that this being her first published novel, it’s clear the sort of stories Flynn wants to tell. It’s also clear the type of women she wants to showcase. The deeply damaged Camille. The mood-swinging Amma. The hypersensitive, cringe-worthy Adora. None of them overtly likeable (though an argument could definitely be made for our heroine, Camille), and therefore all the sides of womanhood that no one wishes to acknowledge or explore. I’m glad to see Flynn exploring them, though this being her first outing, it wasn’t perfect.
There was an entire section of the book wherein she tries to explain the events taking place as being partly the fault of Camille’s dependency on Amma liking and respecting her. It took a character that, despite everything, I still liked and sent her straight into a state so pathetic I lost touch with her for a couple chapters. Others might not feel so suddenly repelled, but keep in mind that Camille is around thirty and Amma is thirteen. No matter how compelling Amma is to her, it was still an unbelievable moment for me as a reader. “Likeable” wasn’t even really the problem here. It was more a case of me clutching the book and willing her to snap out of this sudden stupidity she’s found herself in, and I didn’t like that feeling.
Otherwise, I bought the story entirely. The characters, too. It did take about fifty pages to hook me in, but once I reached that mark, I read like a speed demon. I will say that this book pissed me off royally. Not in any bad way. Typical of Flynn, it was beautifully written. It was engaging. I wanted to solve the mystery.
The ways it angered me are the ways in which a book like this should anger you. Injustice. Evil. Someone enduring a horrible thing that makes your skin crawl. Someone in pain who is being subjected to the harsh judgment of people who can’t begin to understand what they’ve been through. It’s a masterpiece of human suffering, and it pulls out all the stops, but that’s half warning, as well.