Friday, November 8, 2013

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

"It's not so much a possession as an infection.
The House was always his.
Always him."

I was very excited to read The Shining Girls, but I ended up disappointed. It sounded awesome: a serial killer who hunts his victims throughout time, while the one who got away is hunting him. The biggest problem I had with the book is momentarily forgetting how very gross serial killers are. The very violent scenes of women being killed made me sick. The victims are interesting women, and one by one we see them being brutally murdered. This was listed as a book that features a strong female character, but the story shows the very opposite.

The Shining Girls opens in Chicago during the Great Depression. Harper, our a-hole serial killer, is running from some dudes who want to punish him for killing a man, like the a-hole he is. A bunch of crazy mishaps later, he steals a coat from an old blind woman (As you do, when you're an a-hole). The coat contains a set of keys, keys to the House.

The House is a giant mystery, this weird time-traveling place. Inside the House are a list of names and a whole lot of random objects. The objects are from the girls, girls who shined with life and potential, girls he will kill/has killed/time travel! Harper gets right to work visiting the girls, giving them an item, then going back at a future time and murdering them. He then leaves an object from another girl at the scene of the crime.

This whole disgusting routine is going swimmingly, until it doesn't. He leaves one woman alive: Kirby. She is a brash college student who interns at a newspaper and uses its resources to hunt down her attempted killer. This proves nearly impossible, as Harper's murders span decades. I found Kirby to be a bit annoying, but mostly okay. It would be hard to side against anyone looking to kick Harper's butt.

The time travel element made this book somewhat interesting. I was slightly impressed that a deranged lunatic was capable of keeping track of timelines so well, that he was so good at closing loops. The Shining Girls really made me sad because I do see potential greatness in the story, but ultimately it fell short of the mark.

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