This is the debut novel of Gillian Flynn and was first published in 2006. It is an adult psychological thriller, and one of the first in the genre that I have decided to delve into. The plot follows Camille Preaker, a newspaper reporter who is sent back to her hometown, Windfall, to report the gruesome murders of two young girls. This books is not just about solving the murder mystery, but is an exploration into the dark secrets that are hidden in this tiny town by the residents who live there.
The overall plot of this book was very interesting and I found myself being sucked into the story very quickly. The mysteries and characters are explored slowly and revealed slowly through the book – which kept me hooked and kept me guessing! You are given clues as to what may be going on but there are still some twists and turns that are not so easy to figure out.
The themes in this book are rather graphic and disturbing. The murders of the two girls are violent and not pleasant to read about. There are also themes of self-harm, drugs, abuse and under-age sex. I felt that although cringing at a few points, the darker themes added to the overall darkness of the novel – its not supposed to be a light read!
One of the things I liked most in this book was the characters. Particularly the female characters. They are not the traditional strong heroines we see popping up in most modern literature, they are damaged and often psychologically ill women. Many of the characters have been abused and a lot of time is spent exploring how each person reacts to this. Each reaction is very unique to the individual character and it feels very real while you are reading it.
All of the villains in the book are female. I noticed a comparison between the outer beauty of women in this book, and inner beauty. I noticed that the groomed, sophisticated, pretty women were the most dangerous and manipulative characters. In general the “less than beautiful” women tended to be a little kinder on the inside. Gillian Flynn doesn’t want us to feel too secure though, as demonstrated by the following quote;
“Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom”
Family dynamics are also explored in this book, and many of the families are very dysfunctional. A hint of the potentially “eternal family” is demonstrated in the following, disturbing quote:
“The Keene’s, however, will remain the purest form of family – underground”
An interesting post can be found here on the author’s website, which explains what led her to write this book and what inspired her to write such dark characters. I found this very interesting to read about and I highly reccommend checking it out after (or before) reading Sharp Objects.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and have rated it: