For an author that I only discovered around 18 months ago, Gillian Flynn has quickly become one of my favourites. Like most people, I read Gone Girl due to the buzz surrounding it at that time, and then decided to see if she had written any other books. Fortunately for me, she had, and they were equally as good.
One of the things I love about Gillian Flynn, is that she doesn’t mess around. She never tries to skirt violence or gore, she really goes for it. These books are truly disturbing, without ever needing to venture into the outrageous or supernatural as many authors of this genre feel the need to do. I’m absolutely not one for horror films; in fact, I avoid them like the plague. I’ve also not really read any books of that genre, although I would like to read some Stephen King.
I don’t want to confuse people. These books aren’t horror, they’re thriller, but Flynn pushes the boundaries of the thriller genre to the absolute edge. I think this is why I love them so much. They’re not scary and they don’t keep me up at night, but they are extremely twisted and unnervingly creepy.
She also writes characters that are really flawed, whilst still managing to make them relatable and believable. There are no perfections and no happy endings; just raw personalities and relationships. She writes real people, with real problems, rather than pretend real people, with pretend real problems, that is so often seen in other writing. In other books, we often simply aspire or pretend to relate to the characters, whereas in Flynn’s novels, we are actually a little bit embarrassed that we see so much of ourselves in them. This is helped by her really snappy language. She is a fan of the short sentence, and this helps to not only make her novels fast-paced, but also to make them dry, witty and seeping in sarcasm. All are written in first person, and the protagonists’ internal monologues are so similar to my own in style, that I probably shouldn’t admit to it.
To date, she has published three novels and one short story, with two of the novels having subsequently been made into feature films.
Sharp Objects is Flynn’s first novel, first published in 2006. It tells the story of Camille, a journalist forced back to her home town to investigate the mysterious murders of two young girls. Having been estranged from her mother for many years, Camille finds herself back in her childhood home in Missouri, with her 13 year old step-sister, who she barely knows. As she begins her investigation, Camille is forced to battle the demons of her past in order to discover the truth.
I think this is my favourite of all Gillian Flynn’s novels. It is so creepy, I can’t even put it into words. Camille has had one extremely messed up life, and the relationship she has with her family is what makes this book so compelling.
It has so many twists, and I really did not see the shock ending coming.
9/10 – Almost There
I would say that Dark Places is my least favourite of Flynn’s novels, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think it was great. This is probably the most graphic and gory; I’m not sure I’d like to watch the film for this reason.
Libby Day was seven years old when her older brother, Ben, was jailed for murdering her mother and two sisters, due to the evidence that she gave. Twenty five years later, a group of people, or cult, contact Libby for information about her family’s murder. They are convinced that Ben was not guilty of the crimes he was jailed for, and are determined to free him.
I think the main thing that a didn’t like in this book, in comparison to the other two, is that there is no big twist. It is written more like a conventional crime novel, and I sort of guessed what would happen at the end. That being said, I still really enjoyed it. I’ve read quite a few reviews from different people that say this is their favourite Flynn novel, so maybe it’s just me. It wasn’t as weird and creepy as the others, but I suppose other people aren’t as in to that sort of thing.
8/10 – Solid
Like most people, this was the first Flynn novel I read, and the one that got me hooked on both the author and the genre. Before I read this book, I was more into romantic historical fiction, and young adult stuff, but this really converted me.
I’ll not give a proper synopsis for two reasons. The first reason is that most of you have probably either already read it, or seen the film. The second reason is that if you haven’t read it, I really don’t want to give anything away. It’s really important that you haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen, otherwise it won’t be as good. All I’ll say is, Nick wakes up on his fifth wedding anniversary, to discover that his wife, Amy, has disappeared. That’s really all you need to know.
Once again, it is the characters that make this so good. We really have no idea idea who to trust, because pretty much everyone has some sort of negative, dickish quality. There is no ‘good guy’ here, only people who are slightly better than others. Yet, every character is enthralling and keeps you gripped to the last page.
In hindsight, I think I actually preferred Sharp Objects to Gone Girl. Maybe because I don’t like hype that surrounds books, because I’ve often been underwhelmed by bestsellers. Fortunately, I read Gone Girl well before the film came out, so it wasn’t quite as hyped as it eventually became. I don’t know. This book is great, and everyone should read it.
Regarding the film, it really is a good and loyal adaptation. I wasn’t keen on Rosamund Pike as Amy, but other than that, it stayed true to the book and I enjoyed it. Of course, a film is never a substitute for a book, and if you have only seen the film, I implore you to read the book too.
9/10 – Almost There
The Grownup is a short story, of which you can read my full review here.
7/10 – Something Missing
Overall, I really can’t wait for Flynn’s next novel, although it seems like she’s focusing more on TV and film at the moment. This is a genre I never would have dreamed i’d enjoy, considering I hate anything horror and gore, but I’m now hooked and would chose a thriller over anything else.