After the massive success of psychological thriller, Gone Girl, I expected great things of her first two books. Sharp Objects was the first one I picked up, and honestly, I don’t think I will try any more…
While Gone Girl had its share of screwed-up characters, Sharp Objects took it to the extreme. Every character had major problems and I finished the book feeling emotionally drained… A little normality would have been nice….
The protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a journalist sent to her hometown to investigate the disappearances and murders of two young girls. There is a lot of family tension, which stems from the death of her sister twenty-odd years ago. Camille is severely depressed and is unable to function like an adult – as evidenced in a scene where she takes ecstasy with her thirteen-year-old half sister. In addition, a number of scenes are devoted to Camille’s cutting. Since her teenage years, she has been cutting words into her skin, leaving only one patch clear of scarring. I found the huge focus placed on her scars disturbing and scary, especially as the author described her obsession with words as a catalyst for this type of self-mutilation. I love words too, and was unnerved by this idea.
Her mother, Adora, and sister Amity (Amma), are strange from the outset. Something creepy is going on there but Camille is blissfully unaware until the last third of the book. It did annoy me how blindingly obvious it was to the audience, yet not to the characters.
Much of the book revolves around teenage lives in a small town – both Amma’s current lifestyle and Camille’s memories of her own. And the teenage voices annoyed me – as did the constant notion that teenage life in these towns is promiscuous and rebellious. As a total non-rebel, I just could not relate to any of these scenes.
The only redeeming feature of this book is the link between the current murders and the death of Camille’s sister many years before. I liked how they coincided at the end.
I think that what annoyed me most about this book was its inability to analyse the psychological conditions at play. We are given one definitive diagnosis throughout the book, but there are so many more aspects it might have been nice to know.
I was distressed and disturbed and couldn’t stop thinking about how awful it was for days afterwards! Definitely not for the faint-hearted and not for people who aren’t big fans of this genre either.