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Sharp Objects Paperback – July 31, 2007
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction...Flynn's book goes deeper than your average thriller. It has all the narrative drive of a serious pop novel and much of the psychological complexity of a mainstream character study. All in all, a terrific debut.”
—Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune
“A compulsively readable psychological thriller that marks [a] dazzling debut...[Flynn] has written a clever crime story with astonishing twists and turns, and enough suspense for the most demanding fans of the genre. But it is the sensitive yet disturbing depiction of her heroine that makes this an especially engrossing story...Flynn's empathic understanding of her major characters leads to storytelling that is sure and true, and it marks her a write to watch.”
“To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild. I haven't read such a relentlessly creepy family saga since John Farris's All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights.”
“Not often enough, I come across a first novel so superb that it seems to have been written by an experienced author, perhaps with 20 earlier books to his or her credit. I'm extremely excited to discover my first debut blowout this year, a sad, horrifying book called Sharp Objects...[Flynn] is the real deal. Her story, writing and the characters will worm their way uncomfortably beneath your skin...But this is more literary novel than simple mystery, written with anguish and lyricism. It will be short-listed for one or more important awards at the end of the year...Sharp Objects is a 2006 favorite so far. I doubt I'll ever forget it.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A deeply creepy exploration of small-town Midwestern values and boasts one of the most deliciously dysfunctional families to come along in a while...[Flynn] handles the narrative with confidence and a surprisingly high level of skill...Wind Gap ends up the sort of place you'd never want to visit. But with Sharp Objects, you're in no hurry to leave.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Brilliant...Powerful, mesmerizing...A stunning, powerful debut from someone who truly has something to say.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“One of the best and most disturbing books I have read in a long time...Flynn never stoops to the gratuitous, and the torment produces haunting characters that hung around my imagination long after I had finished the book. Her skillful blending of old tragedies with new culminated in an 'oh-my-gosh' moment that I never saw coming. This book simply blew me away.”
—Kansas City Star
“Don't look here for the unrelenting self-deprecation and the moping over men common chick lit...I promise you'll be thoroughly unnerved at the end.”
“First-time novelist Flynn is a natural-born thriller.”
—People Style Watch
“A witty, stylish, and compelling debut. A real winner.”
“Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues. Better yet, she offers appalling, heartbreaking insight into the darkness of her women's lives: the Stepford polish of desperate housewives, the backstabbing viciousness of drug-gobbling, sex-for-favors Mean Girls, the simmering rage bound to boil over. Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Fans of psychological thrillers will welcome narrator/Chicago Daily Post reporter Camille Preaker with open arms...As first-time novelist Flynn expertly divulges in this tale reminiscent of the works of Shirley Jackson, there is much more to discover about Wind Gap and, most of all, about Camille.”
“This impressive debut novel is fueled by stylish writing and compelling portraits...In a particularly seductive narrative style, Flynn adopts the cynical, knowing patter of a weary reporter, but it is her portraits of the town's backstabbing, social-climbing, bored, and bitchy females that provoke her sharpest and most entertaining writing. A stylish turn on dark crimes and even darker psyches.”
“[A] chilling debut thriller...[Flynn] writes fluidly of smalltown America.”
“[Flynn]] offers up a literary thriller that's a doozy...and she does it with wit and grit, a sort of Hitchcock visits Stephen King, with plenty of the former's offstage and often only implied violence, and the latter's sense of pacing and facility with dialogue...This is not a comfortable novel of touchy-feely family fun. Rather, it is a tough tale told with remarkable clarity and dexterity, particularly for a first-time author.”
“A tense, irresistable thriller...Flynn's first-person narration is pitch-perfect, but even more impressive is the way she orchestrates the slim novel's onrushing tension toward a heart-stopping climax.”
“Darkly original...Flynn expertly ratchets up the suspense...A disturbing yet riveting tale.”
“Skillful and disturbing...Flynn writes so well. Sometimes she dips her pen in acid, sometimes she is lyrical, but always she chooses her words deftly...She has an unsparing eye for human imperfection and for the evil that moves among us.”
“Using understated, almost stark prose, Flynn paints a jagged, unflinching portrait of the vise-like psychological bonds between women, and how their demons lead to the perpetuation of cruelties upon themselves and others. The end result is an unsettling portrait of how long emotional wounds can last- and how deeply they hurt.”
“More in the tradition of Joyce Carol Oates than Agatha Christie, this one will leave readers profoundly disturbed. But from the first line...you know you're in the hands of a talented and accomplished writer.”
—The Boston Globe
“[A] breathtaking debut...Written with multiple twists and turns, Sharp Objects is a work of psychological prowess and page-turning thrills.”
“As suspenseful as the V.C. Andrews books you shared in high school, but much smarter.”
“Sharp Objects is one of the freshest debut thrillers to come around in a long while. It's a gripping, substantive story, stripped of cliche, and crafted with great style. The characters are refreshingly real, burdened with psychological issues that enrich the story. And the ending, which I was positive I could predict, is unpredictable. Sharp Objects is, indeed, quite sharp.”
“Sharp, clean, exciting writing that grabs you from the first page. A real pleasure.”
—Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories and One Good Turn
About the Author
GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl and the New York Times bestsellers Dark Places and Sharp Objects. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, her work has been published in 42 countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.
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The plot was okay. The lead character was very damaged, but the more you read the easier it is to understand why. Her past haunts her, and I think the author does a good job showing that.
That being said, the rest of the characters feel off. The little sister acts less like an actual thirteen year old, and more like the media's nightmare of teenagers today. Promiscuous, taking drugs, speaking like an adult. I had a hard time reading her and her friends as thirteen. They just didn't feel like real kids. The author kept focusing on their breasts as well. Almost every scene they appeared the author would focus on their "woman-like bodies", then sharply remind the reader they are thirteen.
Well, maybe that was supposed to be some commentary about society sexualizing young women earlier and earlier, but I felt that was kind of missed. Most thirteen year old girls don't act like nineteen year old girls in college. And it was uncomfortable reading about their tits every time the character walked on screen.
The step-father was a cartoon. He hardly reacted like a normal person to anything. His few scenes were so forgettable. I can't recall if the author even mentions what he does in the house all day when he isn't slurping the blandest, mushiest food. He's a ghost, appearing only when needed to make the lead character uncomfortable. Forgotten when not needed.
There is a lot less focus on evidence in this case, like a normal crime novel, and much more on the lead character figuring out her feelings, her relationship with her family, and interacting with friends from the past. My problem with that is most of the characters are so bland they are entirely forgettable once they're offscreen. I had trouble following which high school friend she was visiting and why I should care.
The detective is your basic romantic lead, not the guy the heroine usually goes for but juuuuuust different enough she is attracted to him. I guess she's pretty but I don't think that's a good enough reason for him to take interest in her. He can tell she's a mess and you would think he would have been more professional.
The one scene I felt her have an actual connection was with the brother of one of the victims. That scene was much more powerful than any scene with the detective. Despite the age difference and general issues with that interaction, at least it was interesting.
This review focuses a lot on the characters, but that is because that's all that is in the book. The plot is very straightforward. The mystery is pretty much solved, the book follows the lead figuring it out emotionally. An interesting enough read, but the entire time I felt myself wishing for something more.
The writing is ok. Dialogue is not this book's strong point, conversations sometimes feel a little too pre-thought out and dramatically timed. The characters are what they are, if you were like me you'll wonder why no one has slapped the mother yet. I started to highlight her abusive, narcissistic comments she made to her daughter. It's frustrating to read the daughter just take the abuse. The ending is disappointing, as seems to be this author's forte. It's not as frustrating or silly as Gone Girl, but still a bit sour. The takeaway is at least the lead character might be finally free from an abusive history.
It's decent for an afternoon read; and if you don't think too hard.
Also, whenever someone tells me that they didn't like "Gone Girl" or "Dark Places" because they didn't like the characters, I suggest they give "Sharp Objects" a try because the main character, Camille, is a significantly more down-to-earth and sweet person than the heroines in either of Flynn's other 2 books. Camille is deeply damaged and flawed, of course, but I think most people would find her generally more likable than Amy from "Gone Girl" or Libby from "Dark Places." The rest of the cast in this book varies from quirky to repelling to downright evil, but as usual Flynn does an artistic job of making her characters very real and fascinating in their humanity. The story itself is a bit meandering and outlandish, but Flynn clearly has a talent for telling unbelievable stories in a way that make them sound like they could happen to anyone at any time. Really clever and beautifully written. I will probably come back and read this one again in the near future.