by Lauren Beukes
Original Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Length: 448 pages
Publisher: Mullholland books
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the library
View at the Traffic light:
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’s internationally best-selling 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.
Broken Monsters deals with a gruesome serial killer who fuses his victims with the parts of animals and turns corpses into sculptures. The book follows a handful of people in Detroit, including the killer himself, a journalist eager to get the first scoop on the story, a Detroit police officer, her daughter, and a homeless man who’s created a community for himself in the city. Each of these people interact with the news of the murder and find their way into the strange story being told.
Broken Monsters is a thriller, but it’s not much of a mystery. The killer’s identity is never kept hidden from the reader, so what unfolds is not a who-done-it type story but a “why-and-how” type instead. There’s a sense of foreboding that permeates the book, but there’s never much urgency. While I tend to enjoy these types of books over cut-and-dried mysteries, I think a little more mystery and intrigue would have gone along way in Broken Monsters. While the story was interesting, I never found trouble putting the book down for awhile.
That being said, I did find myself drawn into the story. I enjoyed some points of view more than others. I didn’t feel the inclusion of TK’s character added much, and his POV suffered the most. While it certainly rounded out the slice of Detroit being presented, I found the story told from his perspective mostly forgettable. I paid the most attention to the detective and her daughter’s points of view–there was something about them that really drew me into their story, particularly Layla, the detective’s daughter. I think it was probably the juxtaposition between the gruesome murders and Layla’s own foray into toying with a predator and becoming almost vigilante in the pursuit of justice.
Jonno, the journalist, was not my favorite perspective but I did love the inclusion of the media in this book. While most of the story was told in a normal narrative format, occasionally there would be snippets of internet comments, forums, etc. Broken Monsters played with the idea of reality in more than one way, including the thin line between news, entertainment, the media, and our consumption of it.
Broken Monsters was a quick read with some interesting parts. I didn’t think it was particularly well-paced, but it was an easy thriller read. I didn’t end the book having much to think about or say with this one, but I enjoyed reading it at the time.
Broken Monsters was an interesting thriller read that played with genre and reality. There were some perspectives I could have done without, but for the most part I found the story interesting. 4/5 cupcakes.