I was going through a major reading slump when I read Gone Girl, long before it became a blockbuster movie. I would leave books halfway through, nothing managing to catch my interest. Until Gone Girl, that is. I read it in one night, and spent the rest of the week lying awake, suspicious of everyone around me. That is how powerful Gillian Flynn‘s writing is.
Since I seemed to like her writing style, I thought I’d buy the rest of her books and read them too. Dark Places, a bit tamer than Gone Girl, was also quite crazy and left me with a bit of a hangover. But nothing could have prepared me for Sharp Objects.
Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, is so disturbing that even thinking about it makes me shudder. It is certainly the most creepy book that I have read in a long time. It is a book that has a must read for all fans of Gone Girl. There is just something about it that will make your heart beat faster, and your eyes dart around for anything suspicious, even when you’re at home, in your bed!
What makes Gillian Flynn an excellent writer of thrillers, is her portrayal of deeply disturbed, dark female protagonists. Some accuse her of misogyny; for me, she is someone who is not afraid of venturing into themes that make others uncomfortable. It is not easy to accept that a female protagonist can be a screwed up failure, with hardly any redeemable qualities.
The one thing that I find common in the three (four, if you count The Grownup, a short story) females from her books, is their inherent selfishness and strong survival instinct. They care about themselves before they think about anyone else, and that is what makes them so appealing. As a rule, women in fiction are thought of as selfless beings, out to do good in the world, and even heroines who are badass and have done some really bad stuff are somehow redeemed at the end of these tales. Gillian Flynn shows no such mercy to her characters. They remain screwed up, maybe to a lesser degree, till the end.
It is not just the female protagonist that is the main draw for Flynn’s books. It is the overall atmosphere. Her settings suck you in, and you get lost somewhere in the streets of these dark and menacing places, which spit you out violently at the end. It is such a shock to come out of her world, that you feel disoriented after finishing the book.
All the best to my favourite contemporary writer of thrillers. I cannot wait to read more of her books.