The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is a suspense thriller that follows a time-traveling serial killer. This novel has an interesting plot and a wide variety of characters. The idea of a time-traveling serial killer is unique and original. The story follows Harper Curtis who is a man that is able to step out of his time and Kirby Mazrachi the one girl who got away. Kirby is what Harper likes to call a shining girl, which is a girl who burns with potential. The women he targets range from 1934 until 1992 and include women that were involved in anything from strippers to scientists. Harper simply believes they have a shine in their eyes that he must extinguish. His mode of transportation through time is a decrepit house in the heart of Chicago. Overall it was a good read and I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up!
- The multiple perspectives were distracting
This book has multiple perspectives. It switches from Harper, the girls, Kirby, and Dan a man who works with Kirby at the Chicago Sun. Each chapter heading indicated the narrator and the time period for the chapter, however, with the shining girl chapters it was hard to keep all of them in order. At times, I would get confused about the girl and the time period, especially when specific girls were referred to in time periods separate from their own. Also, the time periods switched drastically from chapter to chapter, it could get hard to follow. I would have preferred the perspectives to just be Harper and Kirby only.
- Kirby was a great character
Kirby was the only shining girl to survive with her life and she wants to find the man who attempted to take her life. She is a spunky character who doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She has not let the circumstances in her life destroy her. She has been through a lot of shit, but she survives with her sense of humor and badassness. However, at times she does suffer from stubborn character syndrome. For instance, at times she does really stupid things, such as chase down Harper alone. Kirby is a smart character and does not wait for anyone to fix her problems, and does not complain about her problems. She is a refreshing female character. She represents a strong woman, and this book could be a commentary on how strong women are usually snuffed out by men that don’t think they can be in control and succeed. All of the shining girls were strong women making changes in the world, and Harper extinguished them.
- The writing style is at times aggressive
When Beukes is writing from the perspective of Harper, the writing style is aggressive. The word choice and descriptions at times can be a lot to take in. I understand that Harper is a serial killer, and it is justifiable that he uses the language that he does, however, it made me uncomfortable at times. This only happened while Harper was the narrator, so it was not the whole novel. Just beware there is vulgar language.
- The plot is somewhat predictable and there were plot holes
The plot is very predictable. We knew that Kirby wanted to find Harper and reveal her attempted murderer. Moreover, we knew that Harper was trying to find the girls to kill. There were no unexpected moments in the novel and lacked any type of nail biting moment. There were also many plot holes. The time-traveling aspect was not explained at all. There were loose ends that were tied at the end of the novel and things were explained. However, there was no explanation of how the house was able to time travel, or why it was only able to go as far as the early 90s. Beukes never explained how the house could travel. It was unsatisfying.
- Harper was never explained
Beukes never explained why Harper was a serial killer. She never went into his defining moments throughout his life that led him up to this. Moreover, she never even explained that there could be a possibility that he was born this way. I would have liked to see more development. Furthermore, there was no glorification of Harper, though, which I liked. Too often authors and TV producers focus on a type of glorification of serial killers making them enticing or even incredibly attractive. I have seen so many descriptions of serial killers and sociopaths as “very attractive,” and that is the last thing you should focus on with a serial killer.
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