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A-red-lipstick-wearing bibliophile extraordinaire. Word nerd & Joss Whedon fangirl; Literature lover & book reviewer. Lady Libertine; Tea collector; Potterhead.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review: The Shining Girls

When a book seller recommended this read to me they simply said one thing: "Time-travelling murderer." I purchased it so quickly, I was practically tripping over my own excitement.

It is during the Great Depression, where violent drifter Harper Curtis finds himself run out of Hooverville Chicago, and straight into a house that opens up to different points in time.
Appealing to his killer instinct, the house leads him to his future victims- the girls who literally shine with potential, and it's up to Harper to put out those lights. He would stalk them for years, through childhood to adolescence, until the perfect opportunity arose.
Kirby Mazarachi is one of his victims. And she survives. The year is 1992, and the hunter unknowingly becomes the hunted.

Much like Harper's memories, I'm in two minds about this book. I both like it and I don't. I love the concept of this story, a murderer evading detection by skipping through time was very appealing to me. I believe that author Lauren Beukes did a very good job of it, but something is decidedly lacking.

The principle characters are almost fully rounded.
Kirby is proactive, determined and absolutely refuses to be a victim of circumstance. This girl has without a doubt, has an unyielding strength, but something about her seems lazy. Sloppy. She's nearly a brilliant hero.
Other than sexual gratification, no other explanation is offered to why the girls are so important. Harper is sick, and twisted, but not in the same way as Patrick Süskind's character, Grenouille. In 'Perfume', you can feel the pull of arousal in waves; it feels real, and disturbing. Especially since there's reason, a method to madness we don't see in this book. There should have been more grit to Harper's character, but there wasn't.

The time travel thing nearly worked.
Again, no explanation to why the house worked the way it did. It opened to different years, and that's that. If you have a hard time swallowing this fact, it will probably be a very difficult read for you. I happen to like the science bit of the sci-fi element (I think most people do), so I was a bit disheartened it was missing.

One thing I have no doubt about, and what ultimately half won me over in the end was the beautifully stylistic writing of Beukes. It is writing I am very comfortable with reading, and it flowed wonderfully. I adored it. Even if the story seemed sort of flat, in a very fulfilling way. It's definitely worth a read if you've got a craving for some YA literature, that doesn't have a hint of dystopian future.

 Rating: ★★★☆

Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: £7.99

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