Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

WICKED on her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
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.

There were several other books I had planned on reading before this one, but after I finished Gone Girl I was on such a Gillian Flynn high that I had to read another one of her books immediately. I was super excited to read this book, because 1) It’s written by Gillian Flynn, and 2) anyone who knows me knows that I love fucked up characters; however, this book tested my boundaries for how much f*cked-up-ness (yeah, I made that up) I can handle in just 230 pages. Sharp Objects just might be a little more than I can handle.

After two young girls are brutally murdered, Chicago reporter Camille is send back home to Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the story. The only problem is that Camille doesn’t want to go back home; she doesn’t want to stay with her overbearing and yet incredibly hateful mother, her stepfather who has barely spoken a handful of sentences to her, and her thirteen-year-old half-sister who she  quickly finds out has an incredibly dark, sinister side to her. Unfortunately, Camille understands having a dark side; she has been carving words into her skin since she was a teenager and has developed an alcohol addiction. While being forced to deal with her painful childhood memories, she is interviewing anyone she can to get some answers about these serial killings; unfortunately she may have to dig deeper into her past in Wind Gap if she wants to find some real answers.

I hate to say this, but I contemplated not finishing this book. It wasn’t even because of the content (although we’ll get to that later); it was because the first half of the book read like molasses. I felt like I was just trudging through it and the story wasn’t progressing one bit. It was a little brutal.

It’s pretty obvious just from the synopsis that Camille has serious issues; she does. I like broken characters, the ones that aren’t perfect. Camille, however, was a little too broken even for me. I still found myself empathizing with her, but not wholeheartedly. The details of how she carved words into her body made my skin crawl, the true story behind her losing her virginity made me cringe, and I had to remind myself multiple times throughout the book that Camille is in her 30’s. It didn’t seem that way at all. The way she was written made it seem like she was maybe 25-26…but no way was she in her 30’s; which just makes some of things she does even more disturbing: having sex with an barely legal 18-year-old boy, doing drugs with her thirteen-year-old half-sister…I mean, really?! Come on girl, get it together.

Her mother is a whole other bag of fucked up that I really can’t even go into, because I despised her so much. Her relationship with Camille was by far the most disturbing mother/daughter relationship I have ever read about and the times where they were interacting seemed to be the times where I really empathized with Camille. Amma, her half-sister, has something off about her too. She’s the perfect, pretty, most popular girl in Wind Gap, but she also has a really mean side to her. I mean, she takes the whole “Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls” act to a whole other level; a disgusting level.

Ultimately, the book turned out alright and I did like it, I just didn’t love it. The second half picked up so it read pretty fast and I got thrown a few times on who I thought was the serial killer. I think the fact that it seemed like every character in this book was fucked up in one way or another was just a little much for me; I’m good with one or two characters having serious issues, but any more than that it feels almost depressing. The saving grace of this book was the sheer suspense of “who-done-it,” which is why I ended up giving it 3 stars. If you want a dark, shocking novel that is incredibly disturbing at times, check out Sharp Objects; but if your skin is crawling half way through, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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