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Sharp Objects: A Novel

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Sharp Objects: A Novel Cover

 

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Staff Pick

Gillian Flynn's debut novel is a literary thriller that will shock and repulse you, even as it draws you inexorably into its tangled, sadistic web of deceit, secrets, and horrific revelations. With her vivid characters and sharp-edged dialogue, Flynn is a writer to watch!
Recommended by Hank, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Wallowing in the misery, dysfunction, backstabbing, casual sexual exploitation, and rampant pettiness of small-town life is the strongest part of the narrative. I wonder if Sharp Objects might have worked better as a pitch-black comedy, or as a thriller without the mystery trappings. Flynn seems to have invested so much energy in making her main character live and breathe, neuroses fully ablaze, that she neglected to craft a formidable mystery." Chris Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker's troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille's first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg

Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle

As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims — a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

Review:

"Flynn's debut novel focuses on an emotionally fragile young woman whose sanity is being severely tested by family dysfunction, smalltown incivility and murder. It is a mesmerizing psychological thriller that is also quite disturbing and, thanks to reader Lee's chillingly effective rendition, at times almost unbearably so. Camille Preaker, a novice reporter with a history of self-mutilation, is sent to her hometown in Missouri to cover the murder of one teenage girl and the disappearance of another. There, she must face a variety of monsters from the past and the present, including her aloof and patronizing mother, her obnoxiously precocious 13-year-old stepsister who dabbles in drugs, sex and humiliation, and an unknown serial killer whose mutilated victims bring back haunting memories. Lee's interpretation of mom enhances the character's detachment and airy state of denial to an infuriating degree. And her abrupt change of pace when Camille suddenly begins chanting the words carved on her body is hair-raising. But the voice Lee gives to the stepsister — tinged with a sarcastic, cynical and downright evil girly singsong — makes one's blood run cold. Simultaneous release with the Shaye Areheart hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 21). (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"More in the tradition of Joyce Carol Oates than Agatha Christie, this one will leave readers profoundly disturbed. But from the first line...you know you're in the hands of a talented and accomplished writer." The Boston Globe

Review:

"Darkly original....Flynn expertly ratchets up the suspense....A disturbing yet riveting tale." People

Review:

"A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction....All in all, a terrific debut." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A tense, irresistable thriller....Flynn's first-person narration is pitch-perfect, but even more impressive is the way she orchestrates the slim novel's onrushing tension toward a heart-stopping climax." Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Review:

"To loathe one's home town is a venerable literary tradition, but I can't think of another novel that has painted a more scathing, over-the-top portrait of small-town America....Flynn generates suspense over who killed the two little girls." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues....Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"This impressive debut novel is fueled by stylish writing and compelling portraits of desperate housewives, southern style....A stylish turn on dark crimes and even darker psyches." Booklist

Review:

"To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild....Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights." Stephen King

Review:

"[F]irst-time novelist Flynn expertly divulges [a] tale reminiscent of the works of Shirley Jackson....Highly recommended." Library Journal

Synopsis:

After eight years, the murders of two preteen girls — timed nearly a year apart — bring reporter Camille Preaker reluctantly back to her hometown. As she works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, Camille finds herself forced to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past.

About the Author

Gillian Flynn is the author of the runaway hit Gone Girl, an international sensation that has spent more than eighty-five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Her work has been published in forty languages. Gone Girl is soon to be a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox. Flynn's previous novels, Dark Places and Dagger Award winner Sharp Objects, were also New York Times bestsellers. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, she lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Sheila Deeth, April 4, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
Sharp objects cut, hurt and wound. Gillian Flynn’s novel, Sharp Objects, is no exception. It’s filled with dark, disturbing images, cruel memories, and layers of pain. It invites the reader into the mind of a young woman trying to rebuild her life, and in so doing, it slowly reveals how her life was broken. All this is done with stark, convincing prose, as newspaper reporter Camille Preaker returns to her home town, assigned to produce a few simple pieces about the family of a missing girl.

Of course, going home is never simple, especially when that home drove you to need psychiatric help. And revisiting the scene of her misery doesn’t offer the sort of healing Camille will need. Caught between the call of adult sanity and teen surrender, struggling against the lure of drugs, sex and alcohol, longing for the acceptance and love she’s missed, and desperate to help her sister escape the cycle of destruction, Camille walks a path filled of clever deduction, hopeless quests, and wounded memories. Meanwhile the author offers classically powerful descriptions of people and place, shadowed by what’s guessed, implied, kept hidden and eventually revealed.

Sharp Objects is a sharply observed tale of modern-day evil, told with a reporter’s strengths, a wounded woman’s weaknesses, and a heart for hope. It’s not an easy read. It’s graphic and its words cut and wound. But it’s beautifully told, and ultimately offers the promise that healing might be real.

Disclosure: I wanted to read something by Gillian Flynn and this was the book I chose to get for my birthday
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
techeditor, February 12, 2013 (view all comments by techeditor)
Thanks to readingitforward.com, SHARP OBJECTS is the second book by Gillian Flynn that I've read. On the basis of having now read both this book and GONE GIRL, it appears to me that Flynn likes deeply flawed characters with psychological problems who have dysfunctional families. In SHARP OBJECTS, it seems EVERY character has flaws and at least one phychological problem. But the main character, Camille Preaker, beats them all.

Preaker comes back to the small town where she grew up to report on a double murder there for the Chicago newspaper she works for. It seems everything she does involves alcohol. She drinks so much that it is unbelievable she can accomplish her investigative reporting duties. But investigate she does, always one step behind her policeman friend, Richard. And boy does she drink all the while!

But the drinking isn't as bad as the cutting, I guess.

While visiting her home town, Preaker stays with her mother, stepfather, and 13-year-old half sister. Here lies SHARP OBJECT's greatest mystery. It is Flynn's trick to make you make you feel undecided about these people throughout the book. Although it's easy to see they're dysfunctional, you won't know their true selves until the end. Please don't let any other book review tell you more about them and spoil that for you.

That's as close to story summary as you'll get from me. I won't spoil it for you, as so many book reviews on the Internet have done to me.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Gracie, September 4, 2012 (view all comments by Gracie)
Gillian Flynn has an uncanny aptitude for writing about dark, disturbing things happening underneath a facade of normalcy. In Sharp Objects, she brings the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, to life, and at first glance it seems an ordinary, quiet place where everybody knows everybody. But it has seen two children murdered, and the police are at a loss. No one can believe it was someone in the community who did it.

Camille Preaker grew up in Wind Gap and left as soon as she was able. She isn't just haunted by her past there, she's damaged, scarred, and lives with it every day. She's carved words into her skin since she was thirteen, and the scars throb with meaning. Wind Gap is where she started cutting, it's where her sister Marion died, it's where her cold mother, Adora; stepfather, Alan; and half-sister, Amma, live in a mansion on the hill. The last thing Camille would ever want to do is go back. But that's exactly what her boss tells her to do. She's a journalist with an inside track on the town, so who better to cover the story of the two dead girls?

It's not exactly a cheeful homecoming. The police aren't forthcoming and the case seems to be going nowhere. Camille isn't getting far, and spending time with her family doesn't go well. Adora's ideas of how things should be don't conform well with reality. She wants to dote on her children, the way she did sickly Marion, and for that to happen, those children need to be compliant and sick. Alan doesn't really have ideas and is little more than a ghostly presence in the house backing up Adora. Amma's ideas of how things should be mean that at thirteen she knows how to manipulate people; she plays with her dollhouse at home and rules over her contemporaries, drinks, takes drugs, and has sex when she's out with her friends.

Camille has difficulty navigating through both the case and her family. Vodka, burbon, and sleeping with the detective called in on the case can only do so much. And as the case and Camille's family come together, things only get worse. Secrets, some long-buried, some fresh, but all calculated and violent, come out with widespread consequences.

The book then haunts you when it's over. The characters linger. They seem so real, so incredibly screwed up, and their lives echo for a bit until you can pull yourself out of that place and back into the world.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307341556
Subtitle:
Gone Girl, Dark Places, Sharp Objects
Author:
Flynn, Gillian
Author:
Gillian Flynn
Author:
Gillian Flynn
Publisher:
Broadway Books
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Women journalists
Subject:
Missouri
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Suspense fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reissue ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
July 2007
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
1072
Dimensions:
12 x 9 x 5.5 in 7.7 lb
Age Level:
10<br><br> Missing since 5/12<br><br> Last seen

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Product details 1072 pages Random House - English 9780307341556 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Gillian Flynn's debut novel is a literary thriller that will shock and repulse you, even as it draws you inexorably into its tangled, sadistic web of deceit, secrets, and horrific revelations. With her vivid characters and sharp-edged dialogue, Flynn is a writer to watch!

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Flynn's debut novel focuses on an emotionally fragile young woman whose sanity is being severely tested by family dysfunction, smalltown incivility and murder. It is a mesmerizing psychological thriller that is also quite disturbing and, thanks to reader Lee's chillingly effective rendition, at times almost unbearably so. Camille Preaker, a novice reporter with a history of self-mutilation, is sent to her hometown in Missouri to cover the murder of one teenage girl and the disappearance of another. There, she must face a variety of monsters from the past and the present, including her aloof and patronizing mother, her obnoxiously precocious 13-year-old stepsister who dabbles in drugs, sex and humiliation, and an unknown serial killer whose mutilated victims bring back haunting memories. Lee's interpretation of mom enhances the character's detachment and airy state of denial to an infuriating degree. And her abrupt change of pace when Camille suddenly begins chanting the words carved on her body is hair-raising. But the voice Lee gives to the stepsister — tinged with a sarcastic, cynical and downright evil girly singsong — makes one's blood run cold. Simultaneous release with the Shaye Areheart hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 21). (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Wallowing in the misery, dysfunction, backstabbing, casual sexual exploitation, and rampant pettiness of small-town life is the strongest part of the narrative. I wonder if Sharp Objects might have worked better as a pitch-black comedy, or as a thriller without the mystery trappings. Flynn seems to have invested so much energy in making her main character live and breathe, neuroses fully ablaze, that she neglected to craft a formidable mystery." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "More in the tradition of Joyce Carol Oates than Agatha Christie, this one will leave readers profoundly disturbed. But from the first line...you know you're in the hands of a talented and accomplished writer."
"Review" by , "Darkly original....Flynn expertly ratchets up the suspense....A disturbing yet riveting tale."
"Review" by , "A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction....All in all, a terrific debut."
"Review" by , "A tense, irresistable thriller....Flynn's first-person narration is pitch-perfect, but even more impressive is the way she orchestrates the slim novel's onrushing tension toward a heart-stopping climax."
"Review" by , "To loathe one's home town is a venerable literary tradition, but I can't think of another novel that has painted a more scathing, over-the-top portrait of small-town America....Flynn generates suspense over who killed the two little girls."
"Review" by , "Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues....Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying."
"Review" by , "This impressive debut novel is fueled by stylish writing and compelling portraits of desperate housewives, southern style....A stylish turn on dark crimes and even darker psyches."
"Review" by , "To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild....Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights."
"Review" by , "[F]irst-time novelist Flynn expertly divulges [a] tale reminiscent of the works of Shirley Jackson....Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , After eight years, the murders of two preteen girls — timed nearly a year apart — bring reporter Camille Preaker reluctantly back to her hometown. As she works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, Camille finds herself forced to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past.
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