Friday, July 18, 2014

The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls: A NovelThe Shining Girls: A Novel by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't normally seek out books that center around violent characters.  I read Bohjalian's "Light in the Ruins" because a good friend gave it to me as a gift. I read Flynn's "Gone Girl" for a book club. Yet again, I decided to read a book with a friend, hence "The Shining Girls" - a book that is about a time-traveling serial killer. It's horrifying. It's graphic. And yet it's so well constructed. Beukes is smart and deftly tells a story with an antagonist that is beyond feeling to the point that you get chills every time he fixates on his next victim.

The reason I like this book has everything to do with Beukes' characterization of Harper's victims. Those women, who buck against the status-quo, who work tirelessly to achieve their goals, who are flawed but genuine, compel the reader forward. I hated Harper from the beginning and thought that maybe I wouldn't read this story - how could I? He disembowels his victims, and Beukes tells us exactly how he does that. But I was slowly getting caught up in Kirby and Zora and the architect from the 50s and the social worker and....

I can't tell you to read this book. It's unsettling and profane, but it's crafted in a way that you're left thinking about it after you're done. Beukes commentary in the reader's guide in the final pages convinced me why this was a story that needed to be told. And for better or worse, I'm glad that I stuck it through to the very end.

Happy reading!

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