Tuesday 23 December 2014
RIP IX BOOK 4: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
So, I read Sharp Objects. And it is better than Gone Girl. See: finishing it 3 months ago and still thinking it was pretty great. The story is based around Camille Preaker, a journalist who is asked to return to her hometown to cover the murders of a couple of girls, and really it's about her fucked up family, and her fucked up self. I think Flynn is really good at writing characters who aren't really likeable- there are points where you do feel for Camille, but there's just enough cutthroat ambition and general nastiness about her that it's impossible to really like her.
But she's just the start of it. There's also her weirdly smothering and then pushing away mother, her half-sister who is out of control but also extremely childlike in front of their mother, and a motley assortment of townspeople who don't really like or trust Camille. Everyone is kind of exceptionally nasty, and it's difficult to know who the murderer is because everyone seems like they could probably be capable of it.
So, yeah. This is a crime thriller as well as a fucked up family saga, and whilst I am of course not going to tell you who the murderer is (duh), I am going to moan about Flynn's writing style. So, I feel like there is a point at which the plot is pushed a certain way, and there isn't really any wiggle room within that interpretation for believing anyone else is the killer. This is fine, and it generally makes you feel really smart that you've figured it out, but then Flynn will put in a twist that means everything you've been told before is invalidated, and it's just like 'SURPRISE! This happened!' without any real basis for it. To me, this just feels like sloppy writing practice. Of course it's going to be surprising, because there is nothing else anywhere to have really made it likely, so instead of being shocking, it just kind of makes me roll my eyes and sigh a little bit because what was the point of all that, then?
This is kind of how I felt about Gone Girl too, in the end, but the reason it doesn't make me hate Sharp Objects beyond all else is because I think there is enough else here to make it an actually decent book. The creepy family ties, the fucked up protagonist, and I haven't even mentioned the attractive cop and the drugs and the reason the book is even called Sharp Objects... There's quite a lot going on here, is what I'm saying. It hasn't made me jump up and down and want to marry Flynn or anything, but there is some very good stuff here, plus it has made me want to read Dark Places, so good work, Gillian. Good work.