HBO's Sharp Objects: Is It Enjoyable When You Loved The Book?

If you had your television and live streams tuned to HBO on the 8th of July, you might have noticed that it was the premier of the mini-series "Sharp Objects." This series is based on the novel of the same name written by Gillian Flynn, and I had read it in spring this year - a mini-review of the book is available in my Spring Round Up.

I loved the book very much. It cut a 40 minute train ride into half and you just wanted to turn page after page. In addition, it had a unique way to create a disgusting atmosphere - even in places that you would not expect. By the time I had finished reading "Sharp Objects" I was damning humanity: everyone is fucked up, men are disgusting, women are disgusting, teenagers are awful, love does not exist, just the casual f*ck in the backseat is adequate. I loved the book!

So when Noelle from A Little Adult asked if I knew that HBO was making a mini-series out of the book, my eyes were set on the prize. I loved the book for the gruesome thriller that it was, I needed another fix and HBO might be able to provide just that.

"What is Sharp Objects even about?" I hear you ask.

Camille Preaker works for a small newspaper and has recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital after years of self-harm. In order to help her recovery, her editor, Frank Curry, sends her back into her hometown: Wind Gap in Missouri.

A year ago a child had disappeared and a few days later they had found her corpse. Now another young girl has disappeared from the town - Camille is suppose to report on the issue. As she gets pulled further and further into the investigation, Camille gets to know the uglier sides of Wind Gap once more.

HBO's Sharp Objects consists of 8 episodes and each has a running time of an hour. This means that should you wish to, you can watch the whole series in one sitting. And boy, did I wish that I could!

While the first episode is used to introduce the viewer to all the characters it already sets the tone and pace for the following episodes. Without really realizing, you already watched three episodes ...

The series manages to bring the page-turning qualities that represented the book to a digital medium. Each episodes ends on a cliff-hanger, unlike the traditional trope where the hanger is more dramatic than the conclusion "Sharp Objects" does not make you lean forward. Instead it wets your appetite for more.

The only time I thought that the pace might have let go was in the 5th episode (Closer) and I felt that Falling should have been paced faster because it is the second to last episode and so close to  unraveling the mystery.

Even when you already know what is going to happen because you read the book you want to see the characters react to what you already know. Sharp Objects really pulls you into the gruesome atmosphere of Wind Gap.

All in all the mini-series sticks very close to the plot and scenes of the book. There are a few deviations from the source material, and aside from a few scenes that are left out towards the end, these are mostly down to telling the story through a different medium. In the book, the disturbing atmosphere of Wind Gap was added upon through Camille's sarcastic thinking - this is not possible in a visual medium, so this tone is lost.

In addition other aspects are more in focus than they were in the book. The most prominent example being Camille's time in the psychiatric hospital, in order to understand Camille's character the whole subplot of an episode is dedicated to it. Meanwhile, the topic of a borderline gang-rape is a heavier topic in the book while it is nearly dropped in the series.

In the end, the HBO series stacks up very well compared to the book. It is thrilling, keeps as close as possible to the original plot and gets a vibe across that is usually hard to capture in television. I was quite impressed with the execution and especially how they had pulled off the final and last plot twist.

"Sharp Objects" by HBO is worth a look if you just finished the book "Sharp Objects." And when you've just finished the series but haven't read the book ... what the hell are you waiting for?!

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