Genre: Adult, Horror, Mystery
Publication date: September 16th 2014
by Mulholland Books
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Beukes returns with her next smash crossover thriller.
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards; half-boy, half-deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him "Bambi," but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?
If you're Detective Versado's over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist, Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you're Thomas Keen, you'll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed with setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.
If Lauren Beukes' internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her BROKEN MONSTERS is the genre-redefining thriller about the horror of our city's future.
-A copy was provided by Little Brown and Company for review-
What a crazy ride. I love thrillers, and while YA thrillers can be a lot of fun and even sometimes pretty creepy, it never lives up to what an adult book can dish out. This is your hardcore serial killer novel involving a mentally unstable psycho who thinks he’s doing the world a favor.
This story is told with the help of several perspectives: from the killer himself, to the detective trying to find him; to her daughter, along with a few other key players. Beukes tackles multiple POVs with excellence. Even though each character is widely different – we go from a homeless man to teenage girls – every single one has a distinct, realistic voice that makes it easy to slip into their psyche, in addition to making the switch between each one, flawless. Because of the cryptic, ambiguous writing style, you’re made to wonder how all of these people even link together at first, but little by little, we’re drawn into this disturbing, yet oddly fascinating spiderweb of horror. This also keeps you on the edge of your seat as you come to care about these people, all the while knowing what they’re walking into.
The plot itself starts off as your typical creepy serial killer story. We’ve got a man who believes he’s being controlled by an evil that has taken over his mind and body. His instability is clear from the very start, where we observe him talking about other dimensions and believing he can create living creatures from his “art” (which terrifying as hell!). Then we move on to a lot of detective work and subplots that may or may not be all that related to the main story. While these were interesting enough to keep me intrigued, I’m not sure all of the side stories were necessary. The whole ordeal with the pedophile only added more pages to an already thick book without being all that useful, other than maybe an excuse to give us more of the daughter’s POV so we get to know her. Although I’m not convinced her POV was necessary at all, to be honest. The blogger/journalist-wannabe was also a bit boring. The purpose of his story becomes clear at the end, but before that point I was mostly irritated by his obsession with his fifteen minutes of fame. It’s a plot that’s in no hurry! I also think this is one instance where taking long breaks between reading was detrimental to my enjoyment of the book. It’s the opposite of a light read – it needs all your attention.
The ending is… something else. I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I do know that it’s a hell of a ride, and the climax is intense. But then the story turns into something else entirely. It’s done with just enough bewilderment to leave us to believe what we want to believe. I’m not really a fan of this kind of think-of-it-as-you-wish ending. At least not in this instance where one idea hints at the paranormal.
I have not read The Shinning Girls – which I hear is fantastic – so I can’t say how this one compares. The writing style is one aspect I enjoyed enough to want to try it. She combines humor, sarcasm, and horror in perfect balance, along with genuine characters and sincere emotions. My best advice is to go into it with an open mind, and get ready for a long ride.