Twisted and disturbing

‘Sharp Objects’ – Gillian Flynn

4-star-rating

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

When two girls are abducted and killed in Missouri, journalist Camille Preaker is sent back to her home town to report on the crimes. Long-haunted by a childhood tragedy and estranged from her mother for years, Camille suddenly finds herself installed once again in her family’s mansion, reacquainting herself with her distant mother and the half-sister she barely knows – a precocious 13-year-old who holds a disquieting grip on the town. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims – a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Having read Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’ a few months ago, I was keen to see what her other books were like. ‘Sharp Objects’ doesn’t disappoint and follows the same crime/thriller genre that kept me guessing almost until the very end. However, I found the narrative quite suffocating and twisted, and the protagonist, Camille, rather disturbing.

Without wanting to give too much away, I found the plot development rather slow and dense. It took me a while to really get into the story and I think this reflects Flynn’s writing style as this was the same for me when reading ‘Gone Girl’. Perhaps I was trying to compare the two novels because I had enjoyed ‘Gone Girl’ so much, it distracted me a little from what was happening in the opening chapters. But writing this review now, I guess the suffocating narrative simply reinforces Camille’s home town of Wind Gap and how the community have reacted to the murders of two young girls.

As readers learn more about Camille and her family, you cannot help but be shocked by the revelations. This is what I found cleverly disturbing and what I consider to be the main hook of the story. Finding out about Camille’s childhood and growing up in Wind Gap, it is hardly surprising that she carries such emotional baggage and it makes you question whether she can really handle investigating these murders. In addition, the stark contrast between her and her half-sister, Amma, really blew me away. I forgot the massive age difference between the two based on how they behaved and this I feel became another element to the narrative’s development.

So, to consider this novel twisted and disturbing is, in its own right, a compliment. Once you are hooked and get a “feel” for what ‘Sharp Objects’ is offering, you cannot help but follow Camille on her journey. The ending was full of unexpected surprises that redeemed the slow start for me. If you enjoyed ‘Gone Girl’ then definitely pick up this read. Like me, you might find yourself comparing the two novels, but I feel that ‘Sharp Objects’ certainly deserves an identity of its own.

A powerful, roller-coaster read

‘Gone Girl’ – Gillian Flynn

5-star-rating

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

From the beginning when Amy’s disappearance is established, I immediately found myself pointing the finger of blame at Nick. There were so many things that I disliked about his character and the way he handled his wife being missing, that I felt sure he was a cold-blooded killer. Without giving too much away, Flynn takes you on a roller-coaster ride and, as the tag line says, there are most certainly two sides to every story.

The book switches from¬†present day, narrated by Nick as Amy’s disappearance and the subsequent police investigations develop; to Amy’s diary in the years leading up to events. The relationship between Nick and Amy comes across as just about ok, and literally, you can feel that something is just not right. However, Flynn carefully crafts the narrative and gradually leads you down a winding, thrilling path that slowly reveals more and more about the two characters.

And this is something that I particularly enjoyed about ‘Gone Girl’. Like a roller-coaster, the plot was unpredictable and it left you feeling breathless throughout. I could not foresee where the story was going to progress and Flynn cleverly plays on readers perceptions of characters to make the next plot twist even more unexpected. At first I struggled to enjoy the different narrative styles between Nick and Amy’s diary entries, but grew to realise that this was another way of showing what the character’s were really like.

The book is split into three parts and just when you think you have nailed it and can anticipate what is coming, Flynn throws in another surprise. I really enjoyed the secrecy and psychological games that were played because it made me question my initial perception of Nick. The dual-narrative adds to the tension in the story as Amy’s journal entries encourage you to understand the motives behind her apparently violent disappearance.

This is the first book I have read by Gillian Flynn and I was not disappointed. This was a thrilling read with plenty of twists and turns along the way; so many, that it is one I could easily revisit, just to find more clues that I may have missed this first time around. I can’t wait to read others by Flynn and really hope they deliver the same level of enjoyment as ‘Gone Girl’ has for me. I beg of you, don’t pass up the opportunity to read this one.