Tag: mr Brooks

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Posted July 25, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction, Thriller / 9 Comments

The Shining Girls by Lauren BeukesTitle: The Shining Girls (Goodreads)
Author: Lauren Beukes
Published: Harper Collins, 2013
Pages: 389
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

During the depression era, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens onto other times. But it comes at a cost, he has to hunt down and kill all the shining girls; those bright girls burning with potential. He stalks them through the different ages, leaving clues on their bodies. But when one of the girls doesn’t die she starts to hunt him. Can Kirby Mazrachi track down this time-traveling serial killer before it’s too late?

Right off the bat, a time traveling serial killer was enough to sell me on this book, it sounded unique and familiar all at the same time. I started reading this book instead of reading the novel I needed to read for book club (which is And the Mountains Echoed) as a way of procrastinating and simply because I wanted something light and entertaining while I wasn’t feeling too well. I flew through this novel and while it was dark, twisted and often graphic, I still felt like it missed something.

I like my serial killers to have an inner conflict; the inner turmoil of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, the dark passenger of Dexter in the Dexter series (and TV show) and if you’ve seen Mr Brooks, the guy in the back seat (played by William Hunt). I love the psychological elements that are found in these examples and this is what I look for in a novel about serial killers. I want to know their motivations, their convictions, the struggle between good and evil within each one of them and when I didn’t get that in The Shinning Girls, I was disappointed by that.

Then again I love how graphic this book is; there is a real thrill to read the macabre and Lauren Beukes doesn’t hold back in the book. While the author doesn’t go into too much detail about the time travelling mechanics, when someone asked me if the time travelling elements were believable in the book I had to stop and think. Firstly can time traveling be believable? Then I spent time thinking about the different theories around time traveling and going back and forth in time, never really seemed to alter the future at all. Why didn’t Harper just go back to the same day and finish Kirby off? Or even a different day? There are so many questions that are left to the imagination and nothing about time travelling was ever be truly explored. You know what? I think I prefer it that way, there are too many theories regarding time travel, I think it was best to leave it up the reader to draw their own conclusions about some of the plot. I don’t like it when everything is wrapped up neatly and every thread within a novel is covered off. I want something left to my imagination, I want to form my own ideas and I want to question the book in the end.

I think Lauren Beukes made a conscious effort not to fill in all the gaps; there are so many questions, backstory and motivations that could have been filled in but leaving that all up to the imagination of the reader just worked better for this book. It also can set up for possible sequels and spin offs. This means when Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way and MRC brought the rights to make this into a TV series (even before the book was released in America) I think Beukes decision paid off. With all those lose threads, it give the TV adaptation room to move and vary from the book if needed (in order to set up a few seasons). Adaptations are tricky and I’m often against them but with a book like The Shining Girls, I think they have a good foundation to work with and expand without upsetting too many of the diehard fans.

The Shinning Girls is far from perfect; there are things I would have liked to see done differently but this was pure entertainment and the fact that there are a slight literary quality about it helped as well. I’m curious to see what happens with the TV show and I’ll be sure to watch it if it ever makes it to air but in the meantime, this is a Science Fiction/Thriller that I’m happy to recommend to people. There is a lot to think about and it is one hell of a read.