On Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects and Dark Places Review

I love Gillian Flynn. I devoured Gone Girl within hours last September. Instead of packing the day before I returned to school last fall, I spent the day glued to my couch, still in my pajamas at 3PM because changing meant setting down the book for two minutes. Since then, I’ve thrust it upon nearly all my family members; I interrupt conversations when I hear the title mentioned.

I have never been a huge reader of thrillers or mysteries. At fourteen I was so terrified by books like The Historian and The Rule of Four that I couldn’t sleep (I had a short but intense obsession with historical mysteries that year).

So I didn’t expect to love Gone Girl.

Since then, I’d been excited to read her previous two novels, though a bit reticent because I’d heard they dealt with slightly darker subject matter.

I read both novels in one weekend. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint.

I began with Sharp Objects simply because the back cover description interested me more. Though much of my life remains tightly controlled, I apparently have no self-control when it comes to Gillian Flynn novels. As last weekend proves, my self-control really does plummet to zero.

In reading Sharp Objects, I discovered why I am so enthralled with Gillian Flynn’s novels: the “who” is always less interesting than the “why.” That’s not to say the “who” isn’t also fascinating and important. But it’s rare (for me at least) to find a mystery that treats the “why” with equal importance.

Sharp Objects revolves around a cutter, Camille, a Chicago journalist who returns home to rural Missouri to report on a string of murders in her town. Her younger half-sister, Amma, who she barely knows, holds strange power for a young teenager. Her mother, Adora, owns a business that employs most of the town. When Camille returns home, she must confront the death of her younger sister, Marion, which occurred decades beforehand. The more information she uncovers about the murders, the more she begins to piece together a past she was too young to make sense of.

In the case of Sharp Objects, the build-up to the reveal of “why” seems effortless, though it is quite a feat. Gillian Flynn doesn’t stop at making the “why” interesting. The “who” evaded me until the final pages. Without revealing too much, my original guess at the murderer proved correct, though I flip-flopped so many times throughout the novel I can’t claim I was right.

Like Gone Girl, I couldn’t put Sharp Objects down. It’s a novel that I feel will continue to resonate with me. Don’t let the razor on the cover discourage you; it’s not as graphic as it seems.

Dark Places operates in the same vein as Gone Girl and Sharp Objects. Gillian Flynn has found her style. Just as gripping as her other two novels, Dark Places contains an unorthodox twist I never saw coming. When reading Sharp Objects, my guess for the perpetrator switched every fifty pages or so. With Dark Places, I couldn’t even muster a guess until I was three-quarters of the way through the novel.

Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, whose mother and two other sisters were killed in what was known as “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” At seven-years-old, she escaped through a window, losing several of her toes hiding outside on a cold, January night Her older brother, Ben, was convicted of this heinous crime after Libby’s testimony Around the 25th anniversary, Libby is contacted by the The Kill Club, a secret society with an interest in high-profile crimes. They are convinced Ben is innocent. Strapped for cash, Libby charges them a fee for access to information and former suspects. As she herself begins to investigate, she finds herself again on the run from a killer.

If you’ve already read Gone Girl, explore some of Gillian Flynn’s earlier works. I would recommend continuing with Sharp Objects, as it contains the psychological elements that make Gone Girl so captivating. If you haven’t read any of Gillian Flynn’s works yet, I suggest reading her books in chronological order. Sharp Objects pulls you in, Dark Places ends in an unexpected twist, and Gone Girl will leave you reeling.

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