Simon Cleveland's Reviews > Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
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May 23, 14

Read in August, 2008

The razor blade on the front cover of the book is what one yearns for right after embarking on this read, sharp blade with which to cut every single page, one by one, until they are so neatly shredded that even the memory of what was written on them becomes non existent. And then, one can use the same razor to end one's own life.

I'm still unsure what the author was thinking when she began this book, unless she had some very deep and very disturbing mental issues to work through.

This book is dangerous and not because it excites one with a thrilling and suspenseful story. It is dangerous because once one reads it, one loses any desire to look for another book that may restore one's faith in the existence of good books with an uplifting charge. Not only is this book dangerous, but it is sick. Its underlying sickness is that it's emotionally draining and unless readers are looking to load up on more mental baggage (I can't think of anyone who doesn't have enough), I'd stay away from its pain.

The main character is a female reporter who returns home on an assignment (covering the serial murders of two little girls). As memories of her painful childhood emerge, readers find a lot more about her character, for example her alcoholic addiction and her obsession to carve words into her own flesh. Waves of her unresolved issues wash away further hopes of a challenging literary work as readers are practically dragged into her problems (not loved enough by her mother, not popular enough in school, not motivated enough in her work) and are subjected to the anguish of either feeling sorry for her or wanting to end her existence.

As disturbing details of the two murders resurface, readers are introduced to yet two more characters as equally unpleasant as the first. There is the psychologically unstable (almost emotionally poisonous) personality of her mother and the pathologically sinister and equally disturbed one of the teenage sister. And of course there are the endlessly problematic and mentally crushing details of the small-town's Midwest America (why would one want to read this is beyond my understanding).

This book robs one of smiles, of the beauty of life, and even of the reason for love. It is not only bitter, but leaves one with an unpleasant smell of what I'd like to call rotten feelings. I can't brand the book dull (as it did leave me with unwanted thoughts), but I can promise you that you'll feel dull once you've read it. I don't recommend it, but may compare the feelings I have for it to what Chuck Palahniuk's 'Choke' birthed in me.

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Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Mary I wish YOU had written it. Your review was far better (and certainly more enjoyable) than the book!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm internally groaning, at the image of me feeling the same way about any book as you do this one. Thanks to your review I can save myself the displeasure of reading it.


Erin your first paragraph literally made me LOL


Dorsi This is the greatest review ever...the first paragraph was much more entertaining than "Sharp Objects" was in it's entirety! Hilarious, but true.


Carolee Wheeler I think your review says more about you than it does about the book, actually.

It's a thriller, not Madame Bovary (or whatever you may consider a 'challenging literary work). For what it is, I think it's very well done.


message 6: by Trisha (new)

Trisha OMG.. Srsly?? It is a book of fiction, not a self help guide.


Chris You must be Mormon. Stick to "Twilight" if you're too dainty for the tough stuff.


message 8: by Reddwhine (last edited Aug 18, 2012 04:21PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Reddwhine Great review! It said exactly what I was feeling throughout the book. Only I just couldn't stick it out, about 3/4s of the way through I didn't even want to know who killed those little girls. I found it disturbing and depressing and put it down. Life is just too short...


Barbara I feel like you didn't read the description. were you expecting a Nichols Sparks novel? as for your unwanted thoughts I think that is kind of the point of a good book to make you think things that you normally wouldn't want to. Your review struck me as childish and close minded. Maybe stick to novels that are a little more your speed. Anne of Green Gables is a great book.


message 10: by Maggie (new) - added it

Maggie Fully agree. I found it disturbing but not in a good challenging way - just depressing.


Niall I don't " ones " background but this book mirrored every nuance that humans can manifest in their thinking and actions , child psychopaths - a reality , early teens having sex and taking drugs - a reality , the cruelty of " mean girls " - reality , intimacy with younger men , distant mothers with mental health problems . This book was exceptionally well written to able to convey all of those things and more maybe mills and boon may suit your taste's


Niall Know ones background , correction.


message 13: by Fatema (new)

Fatema I totally agree with your review..I just read this book last night expecting it to be as good as Gone Girl, which was great and thankfully not so deeply disturbing..Sharp Objects is very twisted and dark and just evil..It makes you feel like you never want to read anything remotely disturbing again- just stick to books that leave you with a feeling of happiness and belief in the friendship of books! This one makes you view everyone with suspicion and dread!
Your review was excellent-I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who felt so deeply disturbed .


Marguerite Czajka It's dangerous because it lets loose desire to find a book to restore one's faith? I'm not sure why looking for a book to restore faith is "dangerous".


NancyInWI I couldn't agree with you more. But I didn't finish it. I knew it was disgusting and disturbing and not worth my time after 65 pages. It's almost scary that this is such a popular bestseller.


message 16: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim Ciniello I agree. Are all her books about truly disturbed women with mother/parent issues? At least the latest one is well written, "Gone Girl". This one looks like a disturbed teenager's first attempt.


Angel Uh oh. I read Choke. I hated it. *sigh* I already bought Sharp Objects so I'll be reading it. Thank you for your honest opinion.


Glynis I too found it disturbing. Are all 13 year olds quite so obnoxious. Nope it wasn´t for me. Now Into the Darkest Corner was far more compelling.


Koalaesq I'm only half way through and haven't made up my mind about the book yet, but your review was so scathing it made me grin. Cheers.


Gretchen A little dramatic, aren't you? Of course it's disturbing. Gillian Flynn doesn't write fluff.


Melissa I think you just don't like sick sh*t, to put it crassly. And that's ok...doesn't make it a bad novel. It's just not your thing. For that reason, though, I'd stay away from Gillian Flynn and Chuck Palahniuk, among others


message 22: by Travis (new)

Travis Somerville I was thinking about picking up Gone Girl first but after reading your weird little review (I'm sure I have a higher tolerance for bleak stories than you do) this book just went up to the top of my list. Cheers!
By the by, your colorful review…feels like you're calling it a bad book because it's not what you wanted it to be; not because it's actually bad.


message 23: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara I am half way through the book and want to stop. It's not that it's disturbing, I just don't care to keep reading to keep being bored or slightly irritated at the story and characters. So many books, so little time.


isana this review is perfect except when you hit 1 star, i think you meant to hit 5.


message 25: by Kerry-Ann (last edited Jul 05, 2014 06:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerry-Ann Your review was interesting. But I have to say for the very same reasons you gave Sharp Objects a one star, I found it 4 stars. It would have been a five star ratting if not for the rushed ending. Rating a book is relative to the reader's perspective. Are they looking for a book to uplift them, characters to root for, and for the author to make them believe in humanity? The world is an ugly place with ugly people in it. It is a dreadful place and a lot of people have never seen the good side of humanity? Books like Sharp Objects and Dark Places are necessary. It makes the rest of us who've lived a sheltered life walk out of our own perception of the world and face the realities of so many. Girls like Camille exists. Girls like Amma exists. People cut themselves, children are murdered. Books like this are necessary. Rating the book as a one star is unfair to a writer. if the book is badly written, has a sloppy plot line, then yes, it deserves a one star. But to give it such a low rating because it's not a happy book is unfair.


Heather Wow, dramatic much?


message 27: by Beth (new) - added it

Beth Wright Mixed messages from the comments here. One thing I have drawn from your review is that it's essentially triggering. So I'm keeping well away and advising others with mental health issues to keep their distance.


message 28: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Williams doucett Thank you for the review. I cannot handle sick, twisted stories. It happens too much in real life. Like most, I get very involved in the books I read. Darkness and evil are the last things I want running through my head for days after I have finished a book. You have just saved me from wasting my time on garbage. Thanks!


David Thalberg I'm about to start this book, and due to your review, I embark on this literary journey with great enthusiasm! Thank you for inspiring me.

I'll be back soon with my own thoughts.


Pchsamba I enjoyed the book for all of the reasons you hated it.


Rayanna Too bad your cant even spell "lose" correctly. Thanks for the opinion, but maybe you didn't like the book just because it wasn't the book for you. It wasn't her writing that put you off, you're just not interested. Should've just stopped reading the book and not wasted our time with your ridiculous review and comment.


Nmarieanne How unfortunate that you received harsh comments based on your opinion of this book. What the hell is wrong with you people. Goodreads asked for his opinion, he gave it. Then instead of agreeing or disagreeing with what he said some of you made disturbing personal insults. I guess even Goodreads harbors trolls.

I wish that I had as inspired an opinion to give regarding this book, as well as her other books. I did find your review entertaining. I find her books boring.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

All I got out of your review that the book was too much for you. You didn't even give a chance. You just disliked it because of it's dark nature. Well guess what. That's life. Stick to happy, fluffy books from now on.


Íris Santos I loved Gone Girl, I didn't read reviews on Dark Places before I read into it and maybe I should have because I didn't like it too much. Now, reading this review makes me wonder if I want to go through all the daddy/mommy issues again. Not sure I'm in the mood anymore. I'm not scared of thrillers, mystery or gore, not at all. I just think I don't have the patience, but I always have faith things can get better and I keep on reading (that's what happened in Dark Places), let's see about this one.


message 35: by Gabi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gabi G Books are written to make you feel something. That feeling doesn't always need to be a good one.


message 36: by Emma (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emma How long did it take you to come up with the bit about the razor blade?


message 37: by Joey (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joey I think you're missing the point of what a murder mystery is supposed to be or can be. There's two types, the pulpy thrill rides people read to have a fun experience, and then theres the novels that explore the darkness that plagues human nature, a darkness that is very real.

I think Sharp Objects accomplishes being both a dark exploration of humanity and a page turning thrill ride, but just because it wasn't written to show us the bright side of life doesn't mean it's the worst book ever. I mean that's your opinion, which I respect, but I think to write the book off just because you found it disturbing (when that's the goal of a book like this) is... interesting.

I think what makes people especially uncomfortable about this book is how it delves into female villainy, and because thats something we aren't used to seeing its especially frightening when presented with Flynn's convincing prose. I really loved it, but can see how it's not breezy or jolly enough to appeal to everybody.


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