Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ok. So the first book I'm going to write about is the last one I finished. That is, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It is actually the author's debut novel and was first published some years ago I believe. I see on that it is also availabel in Kindle format, so for those who own a Kindle or an Ipad you can download it quickly and conveniently.

To summarize the plot briefly, the story is about a rather disturbed (and disturbing) thirty-something journalist. She has had a history of emotional and psychological problems, but is in recovery at the beginning of the novel. She is sent on assignment to the town where she grew up to write a story about the murders of two local girls. The murderer is unknown, and the police are ubusy trying to find him. Enter our protagonist, who must not only deal with the the bad memories that arise upon her return, but with a wary police chief, a discomforting new romantic interest, cynical residents , a precocious half sister, and hardest of all, living once more with her coldly enigmatic mother. Even as she pursues the identity of the murderer, she finds herself having to revisit the pain of her past, and struggle not to let it unbalance her present.

I have to say that I enjoyed this novel much more than I had expected. To me, most modern- day thrillers have become derivative and predictable. In many of them, the quality of writing makes me literally cringe and wonder at the present state of the printed word. (Dan Brown. Enough said.). Now Sharp Objects is in some ways quite typical of its genre, but it takes the expected and puts a nice spin on it. The main character Camille Preaker's mental issues are reflected quite obviously on her physical boy. Although the descriptions of how she hurts herself can be off-putting, it was interesting to have a main character haunted by an almost taboo problem to which many people can relate. Her self-destructive thought processes offer insights into the motivations people have for this type of behaviour.
What I liked about the novel was its spot-on pacing, which allowed it to be a page-turning read by avoiding unnecessary lags and digressions from the main plot. Some voluntary suspension of belief is advisable when it comes to the storyline however. Camille's reasons for continually returning to her mother's house during her stay seemed somewhat questionable to me, given the treatment she received there.

The strange relationship she has with her barely teenaged half sister, though fascinating, was quite inappropriate and thus unbelievable at times. The sister Amma herself exerts an unusual level of power over everyone, including adults. Perhaps I could understand her dominance over the girls at school, but the part "Lolita" part "cruel queen bee" behaviour she exhibits sometimes came off as just a hair away from immature brat. I often felt while reading the story that I would have just slapped her and walked off if she tried her stuff on me - precocious little twit. But she was fascinating i'll give you that.

One thing I couldn't fully play along with was the love interest's convenient stupidity. He managed to make love to Camille while she insisted on being fully covered the whole time, yet never guessed that she was concealing something about her body. However, his role in the story was fairly negligible anyway, so it didn't bother me too much.

Overall I'd have to give Sharp Objects about 3 1/2 stars out of 5. It was a fast paced read that held my interest, and with a dash of belief-suspension, ended up being quite an enjoyable story. Would I read another book by Gillian Flynn? Sure, but only if I was in the right frame of mind for an engaging thriller. I would hope however that aspects of the storyline would be a little more ingenious.

So it's on to the next read. In fact, I have already finished another book since
starting this post. So I'll soon be blogging about The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, amongst other of my present fancies. Ahhh, books do make me happy :)

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