Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I was a bit torn on Gone Girl. I liked the book much more than the movie, and found the he-said/she-said (via diary) structure of the first part very effective. But the characters were just all so completely unlikeable, it wasn’t clear what to root for.
But I heard (probably on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast) that Sharp Objects was a better book. I liked Gone Girl enough to try it.
I think Gone Girl is technically a much better book. The way that Flynn tricks the readers (most of us fell for it, surely) is masterful. But I did like the story of Sharp Objects better. In this case, I did figure out the twist, sort of. There’s a central murder mystery, and I had a couple of different theories about what might have happened. One of my theories turned out to be pretty close to the right one. It did seem to me that this book suffered from my mystery pet peeve: a key fact is glaring obvious to a smart reader who’s paying attention, but the whip-smart protagonist misses it for a really long time.
I do appreciate having a main character to root for. I’m ok with antiheroes; I don’t need my protagonists to be good people necessarily. But I need to want something on their behalf. That was missing from me in Gone Girl… I just wanted them all to get caught or suffer or just get the hell away from each other and me. But Camille is a main character you can root for. Flawed, full of bad decisions, and yet fundamentally good, curious, and (except for a huge blind spot) pretty smart. My kind of woman.