Sharp Objects and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
So, I'm doubling up on my reviews here, partly because I was too lazy to actually write two reviews, but mostly because I didn't actually have a whole lot to say about either one of these books. In fact, I said quite a lot of it in my piece about crime fiction, which I posted some time last week. You can read that here. What I'd like to add to that piece is that I correctly identified the killer in Sharp Objects and even knew where the teeth were hidden. It was just stunningly obvious and I can't believe any reader wouldn't spot it a mile away. As for Dark Places, nobody in their right mind could have guessed that ending, but it isn't a good thing. In my opinion, the ending was a mess. A real mess.
What really stuck with me about these books, though, is Flynn's obvious interest in words. In Sharp Objects, Camille, the main character, carves words into her flesh. You know, as you do. But the strange thing is the words that she picks. They are the perfect words. (You'll either agree with me here or think I'm a nutter, but just remember - I have never carved anything into my skin. I sometimes just like to trace words out on the sofa when I hear them on the TV and things like that.) Anyway, she picks words like wicked, nasty, tangle, cupcake, petticoat, queasy, tragic, inarticulate, punish, catfight, little. I don't know why these words have such resonance with me, but they do. I can't say I really "get" the whole cutting them into your skin thing, but if you were going to carve any words, it would be these ones. Flynn has just picked the perfect words. I'm going to move on now so you can all stop looking at me like that.
From Dark Places, there was an interesting thought regarding naming which stuck with me as well. I'm going to type it out for you here. Again, you'll either have the same feelings towards it that I do or think I'm crazy. I don't mind which. There's something disturbing about not even bothering with a name. Whenever I see news stories about children who were killed by their parents, I think: But how could it be? They cared enough to give this kid a name, they had a moment - at least one moment - when they sifted through all the possibilities and picked one specific name for their child, decided what they would call their baby? How could you kill something you cared enough to name?
Since I'm supposed to be reviewing these books, I probably ought to say something more than just "look! Look at these quotes I've picked out!" Despite guessing the outcome ridiculously early, I did quite enjoy Sharp Objects. There was enough going on that I was engaged, though this may have been solely down to me becoming obsessed with the words the character was obsessed with. Dark Places, not so much. It got off to a good start, when a character says on page five "that mean old bitch across the street bit it," I'm pretty sure I'm going to like that book. My main issue, I think, (other than the ending which I won't dignify by talking about) was the way it jumped about. The chapters alternate between Libby in the present day, and other family members on the day of the murders. The thing is, when I was reading the present day stuff, I was bored and wishing we could get back to the murders. When I was reading about the day of the murders, I was bored and wishing we could skip back to the present day. I don't really know why that was, but I just couldn't get into this book at all. It lost me around the fourth or fifth chapter, I'd guess, and never won me back again. I probably wouldn't recommend it, but I would recommend Sharp Objects. You know, as long as you don't mind knowing the ending 300 pages before the characters do.