I went into Sharp Objects with extremely high hopes. After stumbling upon and loving Dark Places I was certain that Sharp Objects would be even better. However, I was kind of disappointed.
It had nothing to do with the writing. Flynn is an absolutely stunning writer. She’s wonderful at blending the now of the characters with snippets of history, setting the scene and giving characters that would otherwise fall to the background an identity.
The characterization was also masterfully done (I know, you’re wondering why I was disappointed if I loved so much about it…I’ll get to it.) Flynn has a unique way of building characters that I really wouldn’t like if I met them, but I find myself rooting for them in the story. The thing I found most fascinating about Camille, the protagonist of Sharp Objects, is her style of cutting. She carves words into her skin and whenever she’s feeling particularly off kilter she associates the words in her skin with the situation she’s in. Unique and brilliant, that’s Gillian Flynn all over.
Now…what I didn’t like. I don’t have mommy issues. My mother is a wonderful, loving albeit sarcastic piece of work, who did an amazing job raising three girls who have grown up to be practically normal. I could connect with Camille in a lot of ways: rebellious teenager, snarky, distant. But I was totally disconnected from her any time she dealt with her mother. I have no basis of comparison which, really, is a good thing.
Let’s see. I finished The Lightning Thief about a month ago and in the last four days I finished the next four books. Hot damn. I have not read a series so engrossing since I finished The Hunger Games.
My favorite thing about Percy Jackson and the Olympians is how much research went into them. Riordan didn’t just pick a few well known Greek heroes and use them. He researched animals, minor gods, places, random magical items. I mean, that research alone must have been a blast but add in the choices he got to make contemporizing things and he was able to recreate a world that we not only understood but wanted to know more about.
For example, we had Achilles who Percy meets just before he takes a dip in the river Styx to make himself invincible. Achilles appears the way we expect (in my mind, looking like Brad Pitt but whatever). He wears Greek armor, sandles, etc. But then we also have Daedalus, who appears as a man but is actually a sort of robot holding a life force. How cool is that mixture of history and creativity? I love it.
I also appreciated how realistic the characters were. Percy and Annabeth’s relationship isn’t forced, I mean, they’re obviously meant to be but the handle it the same way real people handle liking each other: ignoring it completely. Even Luke, the villain, behaves realistically, realizing his mistake and doing his best to correct it. And the gods, though sometimes you’re thinking “are you kidding me?” react the way you would expect.
The thing that confused me, however, and maybe I’m just being dense, is that Percy is Perseus…but is he a reincarnation or does he stand alone in a contemporary setting as himself? He’s referred to as Perseus on a number of occasions but the myths about him are as well. It doesn’t matter, the story is still highly entertaining. And I’m anxious to get started on The Heroes of Olympus.