Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I (like many people, I am sure) sought this book out after finishing Gone Girl. I wanted to see if Flynn's other writing could live up to that bestselling novel and, if so, immediately devour it. Devour it I did.

Did this book shock me (in a good way!) as much as Gone Girl did? No. Did it live up to the writing in that book? Definitely, definitely yes.

This is one of those books that achieves success with the unlikable narrator. Camille is a really miserable person. You almost want to feel sorry for her, except she makes all these bad choices like sleeping with men and drinking to avoid, well, life, that you sort of despise her the way you despise a friend you pity.

Then, her mother, father, sister, and essentially every other person in Wind Gap is equally miserable, weird, shallow, or just plain awful. The closest we get to a likable character is Camille's mentor Curry, who is essentially absent the entire novel. Yet, I was compelled to keep reading, and not just by the murder mystery, which I admittedly solved earlier than the characters in the novel did. They might have been miserable people, but they were complex miserable people, and that is what marks the difference between Flynn's novels and so many others.

With two down and one to go, I'm excited to read Dark Places. I'm sure I will not be disapointed.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Salvage the Bones

Salvage the BonesSalvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To my own surprise, this is the first book I have read about Hurricane Katrina. Although, to call it "a book about hurricane Katrina" would be doing it a disservice, as it is about much more than that. I would be much more inclined to say that it is a book about the impoverished culture of Bois Sauvage, or a book about dog fighting, or a book about family dynamics. It's about a girl and her brothers, or a boy and his dog. It's about the theme of birth, and about the theme of destruction, the promise of life and the struggle against death.

The character I both loved and hated the most was Skeetah's dog China; Ward does an excellent job describing both the savagery and the beauty of such a dog, as well as the loyalty that can develop between dog and master.

My main issue with Ward's writing is that she loves similes and metaphors just a little too much. It's beautiful writing, I will not deny her that. However, while I was captivated by her most poignant and perfectly placed literary devices, she often took me out of "the moment" with an overabundance of "his back was like a reed" and "her stomach protruded like a melon." What's most striking of all is that the metaphors and similes were usually not trite! There were just too many of them clogging up the progress of the story.

All in all, though, I am not sorry at all to have read Salvage the Bones. I can imagine it becoming a historical text, used as a literary reference to Hurricane Katrina, for years to come.

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