Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

What a weird effing book. Seriously. I felt dirty and gross after reading it. I should have stopped at page 19 like I wanted to, but I wanted to know what happened!

This is my problem with reading mysteries/thrillers/suspense novels/what-have-you. It doesn’t matter how crappy the writing or the story or the characters are… if the mystery intrigues me I get so drawn in! In this particular case, the story goes like this: A little girl goes missing in Small Town, MO, less than a year after another little girl went missing and was found dead, teeth pulled out of her mouth (yes, this book gets gory, don’t read if you’re squeamish!). A journalist, originally from Small Town and now working at a third-rate paper in Chicago, is sent down to get the story, with the idea that even a former local will get better info than a stranger. Of course, people who leave Small Towns don’t usually want to go back, and neither does our journalist, Camille, because she’s got some serious emotional baggage from a crappy mother and a dead sister and the price of high-school popularity. But she goes, and when the second girl is found dead, teeth pulled out of her mouth, the mystery gets interesting… and when things start coming to light about just how much emotion fits in that baggage Camille is carrying, it gets downright intriguing.

My problem with this book wasn’t really the writing, per se, as what Flynn was writing about — the murders are gory, I can deal with that, but then she goes and throws in all this weird sex and drinking and drug use that happens in such implausible (well, to me anyway… I’m not really well-versed in casual sex, alcoholism, or recreational drug use) situations and I really had to just put the blinders on, skim through the weird parts, and focus on the investigation at hand. But even skimming those parts made me feel gross. Ucch.

And then after everything the ending feels really rushed, like Flynn knew I wasn’t going to put up with her shenanigans much longer and wanted to make sure that I found out whodunnit, but considering that whodunnit is what I cared about, not Camille’s sex life, I wish that Flynn had spent a few more pages making it even slightly suspenseful.

Basically, if you like really weird and awkward situations, and if you don’t mind talk of self-mutilation (oh, yeah, there’s lots of that) and thirteen-year-olds doing drugs, and if you don’t really care about the mystery part… you’ll probably like this book better than I did. It was just not the right book for me.

Question: I have Dark Places, Flynn’s second novel, waiting on my shelf right now. Given my opinion of Sharp Objects, should I read the other one?

Rating: 5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2006, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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