Author: Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: Fantasy/PNR/Everything untoward, More please?
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.
That’s what Lauren Beukes makes me want to say with every page of words and imagery she passes along to us. It may be weird, unexpected, disgusting and/or fascinating depending on which way you swing, but you gotta take it in your stride because she won’t be slowing down her pace; the shit will keep compounding until the story comes to resonant end.
There are several perspectives in Broken Monsters but thankfully, there are very distinct and easy to keep track of, each with their own shit, drama and theme running that elucidates their own run for and view of survival, existence in the madness that ensues in this city of Detroit, where crime fosters like bedbugs in a shoddy motel where misdeeds are the norm, like fungus on a wooden bathroom door that’s flaking, like mold on a baby guava I left under my desk at school because it was disgusting(I still ate lots of it because I’m a fooking genius).
Broken Monsters opens with a shocking, gruesome murder with Versado and a poor rookie at the scene, using lip balm and shit. From there, it follows her as into her precinct, her lifestyle, her daughter-Layla, who gets her own chapters and by the fact of being a lovestruck, lying teenager gets enmeshed in the chase that’s going on. There’s bleeding Jonno, a struggling artist, again lovestruck poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. We also have a couple others-TK and Clayton.
There are characters whose secrets I would just like to blurt out, spoilers be damned, but shucks no, you’ll have to discover them for yourselves, maybe fall for Layla and her best friend Cass the way I did. More than the actual chase, I was invested in their story, their actions and loyalty, stupidity/bravery. Likewise, more than the serial killer, I hated Jonno. Fooking Jonno. He started out as this pathetic, disgraced, at-the-end-of-his-rope wannabe that I pitied, but by the time the conclusion rolled around my loathing for him burned brighter than Mance Rayder’s bonfire.
The magical/speculative side of this story is “The Dream” that infects the serial killer, warping his mind, wanting to spread, to exhibit its/his creation. That’s a mystery not solved this time around, but frightening all the same. This POV is non-linear, as initially, we see as he was way back when, and then the dream infects, it progresses but in between, we seem him taking victims, doing the deed. However, the very fact of this warping made his chapters unbearable, when they went on for too long. But back to the beginning, “The Dream” raises a lot of questions; it will go whichever way the reader wants it to go. Is it a fluke? An old god resurfacing? The city itself? Some kind of super, undetectable parasite? Drugs and the rest the effects of persuasion or shit?
Although, Beukes writer her mystery, thriller in the very traditional sense and catching the “villain” remains integral to the plot, the actual story far surpasses these mere limits and constraints. In the background, with the progress of the story, we follow each character’ personal explicit and covert dilemmas and troubles conquering which somehow, in the process, becomes more vital-for me, at the least. Not that one always reaches the conclusion one requires. But beyond that, there is commentary on a few of the ways our world functions. Even the city seems to speak, curse at these hipsters, journalists who want to glorify all its shoddiness, the same thing churned out again and again.
Not to mention “Tanning Chatum.”
Her writing is less contemplative and more engaging than it was in The Shining Girls. The characters’ voices take forefront in the plot, yet the white noise is always there, reminding you there is more. The tempo of the prose increases; hearts twisting, time running out, bodies melting and audio-visuals blaring-until it starts being a game, where you might just lose if the characters don’t move faster, think faster.
And so there it is. You should read this book-it’s a piquant high through and through that comes off after a whiiiiiiiiiiiile. Put Lauren Beukes on auto-buy. Her books are fucking awesome.
Thank you Mullholand Books!