I have never read a Gillian Flynn novel before. I only watched Gone Girl onscreen, and I thought its brilliance was because of David Fincher. So when I picked up the Sharp Objects novel, I didn’t really have any expectations. All I know is that I’ve seen its TV series trailer on HBO, and as it stars Amy Adams and would be directed by the same guy responsible for Big Little Lies, my entertainment gut told me it’s definitely worth my goddamn while.
And it’s been a real goddamn while since I read a novel.
I finished this book in 2 days. Two. Freaking. Days. I don’t think I’ve ever read any novels as fast as that. Or any leisure books, required readings excluded. The novel is 394 pages of whodunit mystery that captures you and renders you unable to put it down until you figure it out.
Written Simply, Complex Plot
I read mystery novels. I’ve also read my share of chick-lit. Sharp Objects is both. It’s a mystery novel written in chick-lit form, at least with the ease you consume it. It doesn’t lose you with complicated plot right from the start. It’s very straightforward, and the lack of superfluous details allows you to focus on the mystery and what might possibly be Camille’s place in it. You don’t have to grasp at straws and think too much to try to follow what the story is trying to tell you. It also helps that there is only one voice to listen to, so you are able to build up your imagination and emotions in a steady manner. I enjoy complex character perspectives, like in A Song of Ice and Fire, but I realized that when a plot is already too complex, and its purpose so meaningful, it helps to just spotlight on a major character and let the story reveal itself from them.
As for the plot, I was able to guess the mystery almost halfway through. Something tells me Flynn did it on purpose, so she can set us up for a sucker-punch in the last few pages. At least, that’s what it did to me.
The characters and their circumstances, if examined closely, are all fucked up. But that doesn’t mean they’re beyond redemption, of which are in their own hands. I also liked how Flynn didn’t deem it necessary to dissect character and thematic complexities. She just left it out in the open for you to think about and realize that yes, this happens. Shit. Why.
I have nothing against feminism, but personally, I think sometimes mainstream entertainment try too hard to portray women as powerful. It often comes with a seemingly perfect woman in imperfect relationships and circumstances, yet if you remove such variables she will be okay. So the endings are often expected—woman chooses to let go, life is beautiful, sunshine and unicorns ensue.
In Sharp Objects, the women have an ugliness that cuts across everything, and the ugly is something that they can’t help but coexist with. It’s an ugly that they need to live with and keep fighting so that it doesn’t consume them wholly. They can never cut it off from their lives, and that is what empowers them and makes them beautiful. They live with their ugly. They accept it.
I also like how women’s issues weren’t romanticized nor explained. They’re just laid out like cocktails on a bar table. Go ahead. Pick your poison. Then cure it.
Sharp Objects is not a cliché story of women empowerment. I wouldn’t want to be Camille Preaker, but I definitely admire the character Flynn fashioned for her. I can only hope that I could have the compassion and empathy that she has, the strength that she exudes amidst the life she have.
The Ending Was A Light at the End of A Very Dark Tunnel
I particularly loved the last sentence that punctuated the novel. It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending for me. It’s all I needed to know so that I can move on with peace about how the characters eventually carried on with their fates. I am grateful that Flynn gave Camille the ending she had. She was finally given a choice how to live, something that she never had growing up because she always had to fight her way through her circumstances. Everything she did was necessary for her own survival, but the ending was something that she didn’t have to do, but did anyway, because she is finally making a choice for herself only. And god that’s so empowering to think of as a woman in every literal and metaphorical way.
Suffice it to say, I truly loved this novel. And I am also so freaking happy with its first series episode. I truly hope they keep at it that way. I love Amy Adams, and how she embodied Camille. And I also love Gillian Flynn for creating female characters that show us a side of feminism that we also must be aware of. Because they’re so raw. And maybe, more real.