Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

#BeatTheBacklist book 7
2017 book 7

Format: Print (hardcover)
Length: 436 pages
Published: 2014

7 word review – Not as good as the Shining Girls.
But if you are looking for more details, read on.

Broken Monsters is set in the broken city of Detroit where detective Gabi Versado picks up a gruesome murder case.  A young boy has been made into a grotesque sculpture, his upper half fused with the hindquarters of a deer. Beukes tells the story of a serial killer controlled by a supernatural presence calling itself “the dream,” while also telling a story of people living in the information age.

Detective Versado struggles to solve the mystery while keeping a lid on the gory details, which isn’t easy in this era of instant access to information.  Meanwhile back at the farm, her 15-year old daughter Layla and her best friend are trying, and failing, to safely navigate social media and adolescence. Floundering writer Jonno Haim arrives in Detroit fleeing a failed relationship.  He is initially annoyed by having to pander to the short attention span of the internet audience, but when his hip new girlfriend guides him towards starting a youtube station, he goes from principled to opportunistic with alacrity.

The best part of this book was definitely the killer.  He was so wonderfully crazy and I liked that the crazy was able to bleed out of his head and into reality.  Both in this book and in The Shining Girls Beukes weaves the fantastic into the real fluidly and to great effect.  I also appreciated the racial diversity of the cast of characters and Beukes ability to portray non-white people as actual people and not caricatures or types. It’s ridiculous that has to be applauded, but there it is.  All of the characters are all well constructed and interesting, but many of their stories fail to intertwine in meaningful ways.  I kept waiting for some level of connectedness to be revealed or develop, but for the most part their stories are told in parallel.

The not so subtle messaging about the emptiness and potential dangers of being “connected” also fell flat for me.  Yes, there is a lot of dumb shit floating around on the interwebs (ahem… even I have a blog) and yes there are predators and opportunists and regular ol’ people exhibiting very poor judgement online.  But, the internet is more than pedophiles and selfies and Ryan Gosling memes.  It is also nearly instantaneous access to meaningful information that enables us to better able understand ourselves and the world and people in it.  The connectivity that makes it easier for people to be victimized also makes it easier for us to take online classes and collaborate on projects with people on other continents.  So let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Says the girl who still likes to read books printed on dried tree pulp.

If you haven’t read any Lauren Beukes yet, skip this one and go read The Shining Girls which is dark and wonderful and features a bad ass survivor punk girl and a time traveling serial killer.

This book and review are part of my Beat the Backlist Challenge.  You can find a list of the books I have read and reviewed in 2017 as well as my growing list of books to read here.  I am always looking for recommendations, so let me know if you’ve read anything good lately.


2 thoughts on “Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

  1. Great review! I also write book reviews, but mainly over nonfiction.

    I really like nonfiction because it allows me to learn the lessons that successful people learned the hard way, from the comfort of where ever I might be reading.

    If you are interested in the nonfiction I have been reading, or if you want to know what the benefits are from reading this genre in specific, please stop by my page. I post book reviews over biographies, classics, and inspiring nonfiction.

    Liked by 1 person

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