Read in:- February, 2013
When I had first come across rave reviews of Gone Girl, I was bowled over by the fact that there's after all a woman who is brave enough to try her hand at a genre rarely ventured into by women writers. And apparently, she excels at it too. Surely, she couldn't have hoodwinked hordes of unsuspecting readers into giving her books such high ratings.
So I had decided I'd devour Gillian Flynn's entire oeuvre starting with her first published work.
Needless to say, that it is with obvious disappointment I'm giving this book only 2 stars. I had high hopes for Flynn's first published novel.
Sharp Objects comes off as a classic case of trying too hard. The set up feels too contrived, the world building, shabby and the writing, unimpressive and awkward. ('bucolicry' Ms Flynn? is that even a real word?) And to heap on to the negatives, Flynn rushes us through the scenery, the murders, the facts with such alarming speed that few things get time enough to make a powerful impact.
The eerie, secluded little town of Wind Gap never comes alive for the reader. All the characters appear to be caricatures of stereotypical suspects in a murder mystery novel.
Even the central characters seem to be rather blurry outlines of real people instead of full-fledged human beings of flesh and bone. My mind failed at conjuring up even a single image of Wind Gap, its inhabitants or Camille and that's when I knew things were going downhill. After I had made some headway with the book, my attention kept drifting away and this doesn't usually happen with a thriller novel.(Proof of my steadily dwindling interest in thrillers maybe?)
Neither did I care about the murders nor did I think much of the disturbing imagery that Flynn shoves right in the reader's face from time to time. Even if you keep the somewhat macabre murders of pubescent girls aside, there are themes of self mutilation, sexual abuse, descriptions of horrific serial killings, slaughtering of pigs and chickens to make you cringe and wince as you read every alternate passage. Still I wasn't repulsed.
Instead what I felt acutely was Flynn's desperate desire to create a truly unsettling narrative. You can tell she is trying to offer you a blend of all things gory, disturbing and wicked just to titillate your senses. It's as if the central story became secondary to Flynn somewhere while she was writing this and only the deeply perturbing elements assumed primary importance.
Even the ending fails to pack in a punch, because if you have read a slew of whodunits at any point of time in your life, you will sort of guess the culprit.
The only part which successfully creeped me out was the protagonist's tendency to inflict injuries on herself as a way to purge herself of emotions. But that one feeling doesn't help you sail through a book which is, otherwise, ceaselessly dreary and simply put, lacklustre in every way.
Hence, 2 very unsatisfied, very bored stars.
I am holding out hope for Gillian Flynn though. Maybe my opinion will change after reading Gone Girl.