Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, 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 in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming
Fair warning–this is one of those books you physically can not, will not be able to put down. You know those stereotypical bookish characters in movies and cartoons who pretend to be asleep, only to wake up and hide under their covers with a flashlight to continue reading? Assume they’re staying up to read Sharp Objects.
To be completely honest, I kind of cheated with this one. I’ve had Sharp Objects sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time now. I read Gone Girl back in 2014 (actually listened to it on an 11-hour drive home from college) and was absolutely slain by Flynn’s storytelling. Shortly after that, I read Dark Places and surprisingly, just wasn’t that impressed. Convinced Gone Girl was Flynn’s magnum opus, I was skeptical of reading her third novel…until I started watching the HBO series. Then I very quickly dusted off my copy to finish before the season concluded. Finishing before the series ended wasn’t an issue–I devoured it.
The story opens in a local Chicago newsroom where we meet Camille Preaker, a troubled police reporter trying to land back on her feet. When her editor learns of a potential serial murder story in Camille’s hometown of Wind Gap, MO, she’s assigned to the case. Reluctantly, she packs her bags to return to her childhood home, which includes her high-strung, Stepford Wife of a mother and her 13-year-old half-sister, Amma.
In Wind Gap, we quickly learn why Camille left home in the first place. In addition to the murders, Wind Gap is full of darkness, most of which directly impacted Camille’s childhood. Combined with her overbearing mother and unpredictable sister, Wind Gap tests Camille in getting her story, but you’ll root for her the entire way.
“Whodunnit” aside, the characters will leave you transfixed in their dysfunction. Adora, her mother, is insufferable. There were multiple times I caught myself audibly scoffing at the things she does and says, particularly to Camille. Her younger half-sister, Amma (ironically short for Amity), is equally unbearable and is likened to a feminine Damien Thorn. In some instances, Amma is just another ringleader of a clique of teenage girls. In others, you’ll find your jaw hitting the floor at the things she says and does, and wonder if she’s striking out for attention, or because of something more sinister. There’s something utterly terrifying about the idea of malevolent children and Flynn plays this up perfectly.
If you like a thriller that sinks its teeth into its characters and serves up some SERIOUS psychological twists and turns, read Sharp Objects. While the climax is a bit predictable, its gritty to the bitter end. Gone Girl might be Flynn’s piece de resistance, but Sharp Objects is a very close second.