Book Review: Gillian Flynn // Sharp Objects

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

TW warning

Sharp Objects had the potential to be sinisterly clever but some of the pieces of the story didn’t connect correctly. It lacks a sharpness. The pacing of Flynn’s novel was a little clumsy unlike the precision of Gone Girl. There was a little too much ambiguity and the characters stories could have been developed further. That being said there were some important ideas explored and the plot was cleverly unique.

The protagonist Camille is described as a cutter — a phrase I found myself squirming at to describe self-harm. Nonetheless, Flynn dealt with this heavy subject with care and precision. Camille carves words into her skin because she’s scared they will flee her and become lost. Originally she just wrote every word someone said down but her skin began to itch. The presentation of the lead up to her inflictions was well written and provides a great warning to readers to recognise potential destructive behaviours.

Flynn writes: “problems always start long before you see them”. Camille’s family is toxic. She manages to escape but has to return to report on a local serial killer. Being around her mother again her mental health — and physical — begin to deteriorate.

While uncovering the town’s secrets, Camille explores her younger sisters life. We see her past parallel with her sisters but also how much more extreme Amma is. The competition and hatred between young girls ring strikingly true. You can picture young girls going around murdering each other with the toxicity school creates. It’s like school sets young girls up to hate one another.

Camille recalls how once a group of boys made the girls watch another girl stick a stick inside of herself — and this was in fifth grade. When the teacher had found out, it was not the boys who were punished. The girls had to apologise. The teacher argued, “young ladies must be in control of their bodies because boys are not”. Flynn’s feminism here is poignant. The blaming of girls for the wrongness of male actions is still an ever occurring event and Flynn’s shocking description hopefully exposes the reality of women’s struggles to the reader.

My issue with Amma however is how sexualised she is. She is presented as mature when she is with her friends, but she seems to be doing things that at thirteen-year-old would not do. Her character does not seem convincing. Flynn could have made her a couple of years older and the story line would have been just as compelling as well as more plausible.

Sharp Objects has its faults and lacks detail but it is a unique and compelling thriller. Flynn ties everything together perfectly at the ending and you are amazed at her genius.


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