After I enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl so much, I figured I should read her two earlier novels. I downloaded them both at the same time, and didn’t really pay much attention to the titles, but rather just went into one of them on the kindle when I was bored a few days ago.
As it turned out, Sharp Objects was the first of the two books that I decided to read.
My opinion of this book is terribly, terribly skewed by the fact that I didn’t engage my brain when I started reading.
As I’ve said, it was a random choice between Sharp Objects and Dark Places which I read first, and the title didn’t really factor into it – it was just whichever was higher up on the list.
This meant that I was a good four or five chapters into the book before I even realised that with a title like Sharp Objects, it’s pretty likely that there’s going to be some mention of self-harm in the book.
I started reading this book right before I went to bed, and got to the first mention of self-harm at about 2am. I was alone, and it was incredibly vivid and real, and evoked a lot of feelings which I had thought were buried very deeply inside me. It’s been nearly four years since I stopped cutting myself, but this book was so realistic and so visceral that it absolutely freaked me out.
I should have known, from the title, that this was likely to happen. If I had engaged my brain in any way, I would have known, and I would have been more prepared and more able to deal with that particular scene. The subsequent mentions, because I was expecting them, weren’t half as effective.
I know that it was my own stupid fault that this didn’t occur to me and that I freaked myself out, but I cannot help myself from letting it colour my opinion of the book. I went in blind, which I shouldn’t have done, and as a result, I found the book more disturbing than fascinating, which is very unlike how I found Gone Girl.
I also predicted who the killer was, which always makes me a bit disappointed. I know some people take great pleasure in it, but I like a punch in the gut at the end of a book, surprising me entirely.
I think Flynn improved as she went along – Sharp Objects is good, but not great, and her second book, Dark Places, is an improvement on it. Gone Girl, as I have mentioned, gripped me entirely.
So Sharp Objects, for me, gets two stars. I freaked myself out entirely by reading it unprepared in the middle of the night. That was dumb. Don’t do that.