Sharp Objects- Gillian Flynn

You probably know that I loved Gone Girl and was highly impressed by Gillian Flynn’s writing and characterization.  So I was super excited when Flynn’s Sharp Objects came in the mail from one of my favorite blogging buddies, Kyle!

Camille, a police beat journalist for a minor newspaper in Chicago, is sent on assignment to her home town of Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the possibly connected murder of one young girl and the disappearance of another.  Camille is reluctant to be returning to her family and her hometown after years away, but gets caught up in investigating the girls’ disappearances and learning more about their lives.  At the same time that she is investigating these crimes, she is forced to confront her past and the evil around her.

This is a book that I don’t want to discuss too much because it is a thriller and the plot is more fun when you don’t know much of anything about it…. so uhh, I’m going to discuss some other random things about the book and hope that you’ll read it and track me down to talk about it in more explicit detail in the spoiler-free zone of email.

The most notable thing about this book is that it centers around violence and evil in women and girls… which is quite a departure from the typical crime novel or thriller which usually have men committing violence against women.  The forms of “evil” in the women characters are large and small– self-mutilation, murder, but also gossip and emotional manipulation.  Maternal or sisterly relationships are all pretty messed up.  The women in this book are mostly selfish, manipulative, mean, and competitive… the inverse of how we normally see women portrayed in our culture, especially when it comes to white female victims of violent crimes.

Masculinity is also inverted in this book, too.  That is, the men are almost womanly.  Camille’s stepfather is almost a non-entity he is so weak-willed and nothing-y… he basically serves to soothe Camille’s mother after she’s had a tantrum.  Camille’s boss and one of the fathers of the missing girls are the most parental (maternal?) figures in the books.  The brother of the missing girl actively grieves and cries in public and is ridiculed and under suspicion because of this “abnormal” reaction to the loss of his sister.

Anyways, if you liked Gone Girl I’d recommend you also check out Sharp Objects.  The characters are almost as twisted as Nick and Amy were and while the plot was a little more predictable here and less of twist-fest, it was still pretty interesting.  Flynn is quite skilled at creating female villains who break the mold and that in itself make her fun to read.  Also, if you are into gender stuff in your literature, read this one.  It is thought-provoking, disturbing, and quite entertaining!

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

Holy cow.  This book was a total mindf*ck and I would have willingly sat through another 400 pages just to see where these crazy characters would go next.

Amy Dunne goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary, leaving behind a special anniversary treasure hunt for her husband, Nick.  Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect in Amy’s disappearance, but Amy’s body never turns up.  What starts out as a stereotypical case of a husband killing his wife slowly morphs into the tale of a really disturbing relationship.

This book will drag your sympathies all over the place… it is told in alternating chapters between Nick’s  narrative of the days following Amy’s disappearance and Amy’s diary entries.  I didn’t really like either Nick or Amy, but found myself feeling sorry for or siding with each of them throughout the story.  Nick comes off as pretty self-absorbed.  Amy’s diary will make you feel pretty sorry for her, but I also came away with the feeling she was a bit manipulative.  As the characters become better revealed throughout the book, it is astonishing how these characteristics (self-centeredness and manipulativeness) spiraled out of control… reaching extremes I wasn’t predicting.

This book was strangely addictive… there were some suspenseful moments, but mostly I just couldn’t get these characters out of my head.  I am still sitting here wondering what their ultimate fates are and how much of the truth either character told me.  The ending doesn’t really resolve the situation, but I’m not unsatisfied with it.  The open-endedness of it just leaves the horror of the situation lingering which is ultimately more frightening, I think.  I’m not sure I’ve ever read a thriller where I was forced to think this much, where I was surprised by every twist and turn or where I actually enjoyed the twisted characters as much as I did here.  This book has gotten a lot of attention because it is (IMHO) that good.  If you want to spend the day with an absorbing, twisted, mind-boggling-in-the-most-fun-way book, I highly recommend you grab Gone Girl.  Then come talk with me about how messed up Nick and Amy are.