The Shining Girls

The Shining GirlsThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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3.9 or shuck, four full stars- I can’t deciiiiiide! Not like it makes much difference but still. 😦

Novels are like people.

Some of them live in the moment, others in the past and some await the future. Then there are the rare ones that build up to the end.

The Shining Girls is one of those people books.

From the first pages, it hints at the end; from the first chapter, you know when it will end(and am not talking of the last page) and the ending looms over you, constantly giving the reminder that IT WILL END. AND SOON.

That’s probably one of the perks, or conversely, hazards of being a time travel book.

So…

Time Travel.

Is it Doctor Who?
Is it Stein s Gate?

Nope, nope, nope.

It just is. No parallels can be drawn here regarding the sci-fi element because guess what? I don’t know myself. I don’t know nothing.
But who gives two shits?

It’s there and it helps kill and it somehow came to be and that is all you need to know. Because time travel is just a notion, an impression, a true concept that is there.

Instead, this book is more like a character study. The characters study of the girl who shouldn’t be alive and the killer who doesn’t exist.

A man runs away and through various instruments of fate finds himself in a house that opens up, both inside and outside, at various points in the history and future of time. It gives him names, names of shining girls, these girls who deviate from the social norms, who have the hearts and wills to raise the most respectful and longest of their fingers to the world.

And thus begins a killing frenzy in a period of time that weaves in on itself, by a killer who crosses his own paths and makes his own way whilst still in the delusion that it’s in the stars.

But the shine of it, the glory, soon wears off and the man, due to the dangerous creature that is human adaptability and lackadaisicalness, in want of the thrill that is lost, starts to go around in loops.

Consequently, there comes a time when he forgets and fails and the girl who shouldn’t be alive runs away with her dead dog.

And thus starts a hunt.

She of the dead dog is Kirby Mazarchi, she who will not rest till she has his head on a platter, she who will tear through grieving and dive into the most grueling of hunts, which will be brought to conclusion by chance.

The book is told in episodes of different times that still work to tell the story in a linear fashion. The girls who die leave their shine on you, imprint it. The moments of their endings, rather gruesome should add, become anathema to the shine and steal away the last dredges of it. And each and every one of these unfinished stories they leave behind give you tangled webs of grievance.

The killer is nothing beyond a man caught in his own delusions, puppeteered by instincts, failed by instincts, and killed by instincts. This is a man who follows what he’s told by a house he knows not shit about, and when he deviates, he pays. He knows not why he kills those girls, he just needs to snub out their shine, the shine that illuminated the house that owns him. He starts out in a bubble of awe, moves into this new role with the a ease of man who’s been waiting on it, goes on in a mad and jubilant fervor until.

Until the shine wears off.

And he can’t do it anymore. And he of the runaways thinks to run away for real, except he can’t. He goes through the motions, falls prey to his emotions and just gets bloody sick of it all.

The girl, by contrast, becomes more fervent, the need to find him digging deeper by every piece of photograph, evidence, cards, toys and wings that shouldn’t, couldn’t have existed that she finds. On every road, she walks a few but is thrown away and she finds a new road. She won’t, can’t stop and this need, urge that is so different from the killer’s swallows her. But she of the dead dog isn’t just she of the dead dog. She is a person who’s been through trauma, who grows up before our very eyes, who wants to live but never as a survivor, who is funny, sad, reckless, brave and not just these empty words but so much more. She fears and she braves. She puts on a cloak but never the mask that would mark her as Batman.

Then there are the deaths, the gruesome, horrifying killings. They are gruesome and every one of these killees is someone, some person whose fault was that she shined. Going out with the vision of a perverted, maniacal killer as their last.

If you look at it a certain way, if you immerse yourself long enough, it even starts to make sense, these killings. He kills them because they were out of joint with the way things were run in their time. The girl who helped others in secrecy from the state, the black widow who dared to earn a living, and the girl who really wasn’t and who just wanted love.

This is not a masterpiece and it has its faults and an unfair share of boredom and vagueness but all I can do is tell you why I loved it and only you can decide if you should read it much as I hate this fact. Just kidding, all up to you. Obviously.

A review copy was provided by the publishers.

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