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Broken Monsters

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2014)
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 together. 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 geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

If Lauren Beukes's internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

441 pages, Paperback

First published July 31, 2014

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About the author

Lauren Beukes

92 books2,834 followers
Lauren Beukes is an award-winning, best-selling novelist who also writes screenplays, TV shows, comics and journalism. Her books have been translated into 26 languages and have been optioned for film and TV.

Her awards include the Arthur C Clarke Award, the prestigious University of Johannesburg prize, the August Derleth Prize, the Strand Critics Choice Award and the RT Thriller of the Year. She’s been honoured in South Africa’s parliament and most recently won the Mbokondo Award from the Department of Arts and Culture, celebrating women in the arts for her work in the Creative Writing field.

She is the author of Broken Monsters, about art, ambition, damaged people and not-quite-broken cities, The Shining Girls, about a time-travelling serial killer, the nature of violence, and how we are haunted by history, Zoo City, a phantasmagorical noir set in Johannesburg which won the Arthur C Clarke Award and Moxyland, a dystopian political thriller about a corporate apartheid state where people are controlled by their cell phones. Her first book was a feminist pop-history, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past, which has recently been reprinted.

Her comics work includes Survivors' Club, an original Vertigo comic with Dale Halvorsen and Ryan Kelly, the New York Times-bestselling graphic novel, Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom with Inaki Miranda, and a Wonder Woman one-shot for kids, “The Trouble With Cats” in Sensation Comics, set in Mozambique and Soweto and drawn by Mike Maihack.

Her film and TV work includes directing the documentary, Glitterboys & Ganglands, about Cape Town’s biggest female impersonation beauty pageant. The film won best LGBT film at the San Diego Black Film Festival.

She was the showrunner on South Africa’s first full length animated TV series, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika which ran for 104 half hour episodes from 2006-2009 on SABC3. She’s also written for the Disney shows Mouk and Florrie’s Dragons and on the satirical political puppet show,ZANews and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s South African Story.

Before that she was a freelance journalist for eight years, writing about electricity cable thieves, TB, circumcision, telemedicine, great white sharks, homeless sex workers, Botswana’s first female high court judge, and Barbie as a feminist icon for magazines ranging from The Sunday Times Lifestyle to Nature Medicine, Colors, The Big Issue and Marie Claire.

She lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her daughter.

Twitter.com/laurenbeukes Instagram.com/laurenbeukes Facebook.com/laurenbeukes

Awards & Achievements
2015 South Africa’s Mbokondo Award for Women In The Arts: Creative Writing
2014 August Derleth Award for The Shining Girls
2014 Strand Critics Choice Award for The Shining Girls
2014 NPR Best Books of the Year Broken Monsters
2014 LA Times Best Books of the Year Broken Monsters
2013 University of Johannesburg Literature Prize for The Shining Girls
2013 RT Thriller of the Year for The Shining Girls
2013 WHSmith Richard & Judy BookClub Choice
2013 Exclusive Books’ Bookseller’s Choice for The Shining Girls
2013 Amazon Best Mysteries and Thrillers for The Shining Girls
2011 Kitschies Red Tentacle for Zoo City
2010 Arthur C Clarke Award for Zoo City

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,952 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
July 5, 2018
Everyone lives three versions of themselves, a public life, a private life and a secret life

another stunner from beukes. another book that sucked me in immediately, giving me multiple storylines full of interesting characters that i believed in, even if i didn't like them all. another series of unique murders whose horrific imagery will stay with me for a long time. another commentary on crime and modern life that transcends your typical mystery novel and elevates it from a serial killer beach read into something more lasting.

like The Shining Girls, this one also follows young girls, a journalist, a serial killer, and the police, but also adds the voice of a homeless character. also like The Shining Girls, this one places a serial killer in an urban environment and throws in a little dark fantasy/horror dust on top. but that's pretty much it in terms of similarities.

the cast is made up of broken and breaking people: detective gabi versado - a single mom whose job keeps her away from her teenage daughter layla as she tries to solve a bizarre series of murders and prove that she's not just a photogenic twofer - as a minority and a woman. layla and her best friend cass, who are largely left to their own unsupervised devices and whose impulses get them into trouble. jonno, fleeing the end of a relationship in new york and trying to pick up the pieces of his self-destructed career and make one last stab at being a reporter. tk - a sort of father figure to a homeless community with his own violence-riddled past. and clayton, a once-successful artist who is the most broken of all, whose cracks allow something monstrous to sneak in.

Broken Monsters takes place in the urban decay of contemporary detroit, “the number one Death-of-America pilgrimage destination,” filled with hipsters hoping to force some sort of artistic community from the ashes, camera-toting tourists gawking at the rubble, and real people just living their lives. this city of repossession becomes a city of possession-proper as an entity called "the dream" overtakes the mind of a sad and desperate man who becomes all eaten up on the inside by the dreaming thing he let into his head that didn’t mean to get trapped here, drawn out by the raw wound of the man’s mind, blazing like a lamp in one of those border places where the skin of the worlds are permeable. This "dreaming thing" only wants to get home, and it doesn't know how, but makes attempts by creating its own form of art, which takes the shape of haunting and beautiful tableaux that just happen to also have a human corpse in the middle of each of them.

the first piece discovered is the upper part of a young boy fused to the hindquarters of a baby deer, left in a graffiti-covered tunnel and becoming known as "bambi" to those working the case.

and we are off.

The Shining Girls worked its bigger-than-it-seems magic by focusing on the staggering number of violent crimes against women, giving the victims a voice while refusing to glamorize, or even explain, the killer. this one approaches violence and crime from a different angle, focusing on social media, the dangers of the internet age, the way our connectivity exposes us to crime and humiliation, and makes us complicit in the humiliation of others as viewers. and how we are compelled to lap it all up and contribute to our own downfall.

Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings for the fabulous online

beukes covers a lot of digital ground here: the success of a site called text regrets, which consists of embarrassing texts best left unsent, the popularity of banal listicles for vapid websites, the way cass and layla go catfishing for sexual predators and other internet pervs, and jonno's attempts to stay relevant by embracing the new technology, covering detroit's secret corners, eventually including the killer's "art":

The Dream House prep video they did got 788 hits in the first twenty-four hours. They watched it spread, and it was amazing how each new view was a little shot of validation. This piece they're filming now isn't just about art, it's about the weirdness Detroit has in spades, which is what people are hungry for. They might even reach a few thousand views. It's about building your audience.

and audience is very important here, as the dreaming thing realizes its success depends on visibility - It needs an audience, and asks hopefully: "Will people see it? It needs eyeballs."

this book also reminds us that the internet is forever - an important lesson for young girls. This is the way the world is now. Everything is public. You have to find other people who understand.

the police procedural parts reminded me of tana french - how she doesn't stint on creating well-developed characters while she is also writing these kickass and detail-rich crime stories. the investigation sequences were hands-down my favorite parts. i loved watching them follow the clues and oh god - SPARKLES!! how i loved sparkles.

but layla and cass were probably my favorite characters, and while i almost never picture actors-as-characters in my head when i read (one notable exception - manna francis' administration series), this time i could not get these two girls out of my head because of the similarity of their situation and the way they carry their youth-as-invincibility:

it's funny that the thread for this review, where me and pms started rattling on and on about stuff before i wrote the review, really made me think about this book in terms of true detective, and how what beukes does here is kinda-sorta similar to all the fantastic speculation that was going on online about the direction that show was headed. speculation that turned out to be completely inaccurate and way too ambitious, but this reminded me of one particular discussion (particularly in the comments section) that had me foaming at the mouth with the potential and possibilities and was really looking forward to having fulfilled. but the whole idea of sensationalism and crime needing an audience, and how the viewer/reader is complicit in crime-as-entertainment by virtue of seeking it out, supporting it, giving it staying power - retweeting it and generating an appetite for it - that is something that is definitely a branch of what beukes is doing here.

a fantastic book, a fantastic cover, a fantastic writer. as close to a five as a four can be.

although - fuck you, jonno. you are a douche.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
September 10, 2014
“It's not the world that's the stage - it's social media, where you're trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online.”

Well, hmm. I'm not sure what to say.

On the one hand, Beukes once again reminds me what a great writer she is and also reminds me why I insist on checking out all her latest releases. I'm sure I'll continue to do so. This book is packed full of characters that are complex, well-developed, flawed, and realistically human. She has a talent for getting inside the minds of many different people and dragging the reader along for the ride.

The thing is: I really do appreciate this book. I just didn't really like it or enjoy it that much. Frankly, the plot was too messy and all over the place for my tastes. A jumble of perspectives, plot lines and characters all move alongside one another. We are introduced to one set of characters and then quickly jump to an entirely different set, only to once again jump to someone else a few pages later. I barely had time to become invested in one story before I was pulled out of it and planted in another.

Then there's that whole contemporary mystery turned paranormal/sci-fi thriller thing this book has going on. In this case, it wasn't a successful mix. I preferred this book so much more when I thought I was dealing with your regular mystery/thriller - the paranormal aspect actually took something away from the plot, in my opinion. Weakened the overall effect, I'm tempted to say.

I can't deny that the book draws you in with the dramatic opening in which the upper body of a boy is discovered fused to the hindquarters of a deer. Grisly, gruesome awesomeness... I was definitely intrigued. The main focus of this book is on the dangers of social media and the internet - something I am yet to be completely sold on, but whatever - and the way all information is forever, displayed publicly for the world to see. I guess this latter could indeed be an important message.

Broken Monsters is a book that I like more in theory than I actually enjoyed the experience of reading. It had a lot of potential, but never wowed me.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
July 28, 2019
”Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings for the fabulous online.”

It all begins with a body, a corpse, but not just any corpse... part boy part deer. The upper part of the boy is attached to the back half of the deer. Artistic insanity or a sadistic killer with a sense of humor? Detective Gabriella Versado knows this is one of those dividing lines in her career. There was her life before Bambi is found, and then there will be her life afterwards. This is one of those cases that has to be solved. How does one move on with one’s life if you know that someone this demented is still...out there?

Gabi’s daughter, Layla, and her best friend are leaving breadcrumbs on chat sites to attract pedophiles. They are draping their actions in moral superiority, but really it is hard not to see this as just edgy entertainment for them. The plan is to arrange meetings and then embarrass these sexually hungry, desperate men. (Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan.) Layla’s mother doesn’t pay enough attention to her, and when she is around, her mom is a constant source of embarrassment to her. Like most parents who try to interact with insecure teenagers, anything said can set off a wave of anger or embarrassment no matter how innocuous the intentions.

Thomas Keen, otherwise known as TK, is a street hustler, a man always looking for a new opportunity. Detroit is coming apart at the seams, and as businesses go under and people flee to other states, they leave behind stuff that TK can repurpose or sell. I own a few rentals, and one of the things I’m always stunned about is the amount of stuff people will leave behind when they move. I’ve found vacuum cleaners still in the box, lamps, end tables, full sets of dishes, and always scads and scads of cheap clothes. TK doesn’t know it, but he isn’t in this plot just for a bit of colorful background on the current state of Detroit. He will brush up against the same insidious force that Gabi is chasing. He arrives early at one house before the owners have completely cleared out, but he knows how to handle people, even people who are understandably emotional.

”’I’m sorry to see you go, ma’am,’ TK said, calm, looking her in the eye. ‘Used to be that it was only the nice white families moving out of Detroit.’

He’s knocked the indignation right out of her sails. Good manners will do that; turn a situation around. You got to treat people like people. Something his momma taught him, along with how to use a gun, and what the minimum going rate for a whore was.”

Jonno and his girlfriend are always looking for the inside scoop. They have dreams of becoming social media’s best known investigative team. They will do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on this unfolding, horrific story. They don’t know it, but this is one story where getting too close could mean the story becomes them. ”There’s something wrong with her tattoo, the birds spiralling up her collar bone onto her neck. There are sharp objects, arrowheads, pushing through the ink, and he realizes that this is all wrong. Badly wrong.”

It is interesting that I read this book just after reading Jonathan Carroll’s Land of Laughs because I was struck with some similarities. Lauren Beaukes starts off writing a fairly normal plot with all the details we expect, but as we get sucked into the story, we start to experience more and more aspects of the supernatural. Things are not just wrong. Things are terrifyingly wrong. Things that shouldn’t be possible are exploding around us, like we have just fallen through a rabbit hole into a whole new existence.

Beaukes makes a lot of commentary on our current society and the obsession with social media. I’m always making snide comments about social media, but I, too, use it to reach out to people who, twenty years ago, I’d have had no chance to know. Book people can now meet other book people, no matter where they live in the world. Like minded people can find one another. Pediphiles have more easy access to young people than ever before. Terrorists can brainwash impressionable minds thousands of miles away from them. I’m not sure there is anything normal about growing up in this society now. Streaming video has replaced memory. People can’t just do things anymore without thinking about how to parlay it into more followers or a way to reach a larger audience. If it isn’t worth recording, then why do it? Going to a concert now isn’t about listening to the music as much as it is to video record yourself at the concert. Look at how great my life is!


This is my second Beukes and certainly won’t be my last. I have a copy of The Shining Girls winging its way through the postal service to me. This South African writes edgy, intelligent, hip, and thoughtful books that give everyone a chance to see our world through a kaleidoscope of her unique observations.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
December 19, 2015
Yup. Five stars.

Actually, by the half-way mark I was simply enjoying the novel for how much depth and detail all the characters got. The mystery and the murder and the mayhem hadn't even really begun yet. I just got to revel in the characterizations. I didn't mind that there were a handful of them, from the cop, her daughter, the killer, the blogger, to the heroic ex-addict ex-murderer ex-slumlord.

True, at some points I wanted the story to go ahead and commence, but by the point where I was actually feeling my heart beat and my juices flowing, I just didn't care any more about wanting things to start. I was already invested in the characters in a way that reminded me fondly of the best SK. You know, the complicated and flawed and vividly drawn peeps that take over an entire novel, leaving an actual plot to stew simply in the background and you don't even care. That's where I was.

It was turning out to be a very decent thriller. I even got some meta moments when Clayton talked about meaning in art and the depth and the impossibility of creating anything new. It's all just rearranged ideas. I get ya, you crazy bastard. Or was that Ms. Beukes speaking through him? Ah, well, it doesn't matter either way. I could see the desire to make something real war against making a commercially successful thriller, and I know she isn't cynical. She's trying to push it through despite all the pressures. I loved that.

But then something very odd happened. Things got trippy at the climax. I started giggling and wondering why so much of the dreaming happened to be so regular and similar across the characters who converged. I had a Koontz moment. It was awesome.

And then it got paranormal on my ass. What a damn surprise! A good thriller just became an excellent horror! That's when my stars aligned and pushed out a five. :)

I'm a horror geek. But don't let that fool you. This was a damn fine novel even without my bias. I'm a fanboy. :)
Profile Image for Carol.
824 reviews480 followers
March 21, 2017
The Hook - I needed an audio book. I read and enjoyed The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and thought why not try another.

The Line - Leila’s got herself into a sewage plant’s worth of the brown stuff.“
If you’re wondering why this line appeals to me, my husband worked in a Waste Water Treatment Plant for many years.

The Sinker - What the hey was that? After listening for approximately an hour my first thought was “naw, this isn’t for me” but I was enjoying the multicast narration so much that I decided to give Broken Monsters a second chance. It just goes to show that it’s not always a good idea to give up too soon. I really liked this, am glad I continued but still was scratching my head by book’s end.

Broken Monsters takes place in Detroit after the bankruptcy has been declared making the tone feel a bit like an apocalyptic novel. For some reason I also felt like I was in a steam punk setting. Could have something to do with this once thriving industrial city being a bleak landscape of empty buildings scrambling to recover. Regardless, it’s the perfect backdrop for this story.

Is this horror? Broken Monsters certainly starts out with a horrific scene, graphically described and easy to envision. Detective Gabriella Versado has seen some pretty (wrong word) bad deaths but none as sick or bizarre as this one. Torso of a young boy (?) with the hindquarters of a fawn attached (think Bambi), with no sign of the kid’s missing half. All around queasy.

Is this a thriller? Suspenseful? You bet. After my initial huh, I couldn’t listen fast enough.

Is this what you call a crossover? A blend of genres? Yesserie bob.

Applause to the five narrators, Christine Lakin, Terra Deva, Sunil Mohatra, Robert Morgan Fisher, JD Jackson, who made this reading all the more creepy, terrorizing and dark and yet were also able to bring out the humanness of the character’s personalities, which balanced this tale of horror with surprising dashes of love, laughter, and hope.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
477 reviews786 followers
December 23, 2022
If I'm ever asked, "Name an otherwise sane novel that went completely bug fuck nuts for you in the end," I can now answer, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

I do not want to write a bad review of this book. I can put it off for a while because for 374 pages, this is a terrific police procedural and thriller, with well-drawn characters, solid dialogue and strong atmosphere. Published in 2014 on the heels of The Shining Girls, Beukes cuts glass with her research once again. The acknowledgments read like an expert witness list for a major criminal case.

Broken Monsters gets off to a bang with Beukes introducing her major characters in unusual, intricately examined settings:

-- Gabriella Versado, "Gabi," is a veteran DPD detective and a divorced mother of one teenage girl. She doesn't give nearly enough attention to her daughter Layla because she spends all her time on the job, investigating things like the body of a 14-year-old black male discovered in an alley, his torso cut in two and his upper trunk glued to the hind legs of a fawn.

-- Jonno Haim is a recent transplant in Detroit, a freelance journalist who sabotaged his career and his love life in New York and is looking to renew himself in a city of industrial ruin. He ends up in the bed of a braided DJ named Jen Q he meets at a party and believes this could be love. Using his new girlfriend's connections in the Detroit arts scene, Jonno launches a news service.

-- Thomas Keen "TK," is a homeless vagrant with a hundred different hustles to stay alive, one being to enter foreclosed homes or businesses and salvage all he can for cash. Convicted of first degree murder in the shooting of the man who beat and killed his mother, TK never adjusted to life on the outside, but working with a local shelter, is trying to do the right thing.

-- Layla Versado reads Shakespeare for fun and is a self-described colossal dork. Active in theater arts, the teen spends most of her time with her best friend Cassandra, a cool white girl new in town who actively rejects the popular kids in school for Layla's friendship. Layla's relationship with her father, an ex-cop turned private security consultant in Atlanta, has turned brittle.

-- Clayton Broom is an artist working manual labor jobs when his work isn't selling. Age 53, work isn't as easy to come by any more and Clayton fixates on a woman he spent one night with named Louanne, who's returned to Michigan and is living out of her car. The two-year-old traveling with her is likely Clayton's son. After two weeks, he's able to track them down to a Wal-Mart parking lot in Traverse City.

In the first of several touches I really liked, Beukes gives each chapter a title. Bambi. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. The Detective's Daughter. The choice of Detroit as a setting feels unique and Beukes wisely channels the local antipathy for hip outsiders drawn by a desire for "ruin porn" or rumination of the failed America into a New Yorker who shows up and falls for all those cliches initially.

The story unfolds like a police procedural, with an emphasis on character. Gabi takes lead investigator on that bizarre homicide her team code names "Faline," after Bambi's girlfriend. Gabi's colleagues are sharply drawn in a way that indicates Beukes spent more time around real cops than movie cops. The choices reminded me a lot of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, with Beukes just as interested if not more interested in the lives of her characters outside their relationship with the serial killer.

Beukes seems to know serial killers frontwards and backwards and can write killer descriptions too, screenwriter's descriptions. These propel the story forward at all times and made it come alive in my imagination:

Luke Stricker looks even more brutish since he shaved his head, the kind of guy you would expect to be on the other side of the handcuffs. It complicates matters having him on this, but he's one of the most competent cops on the force. And competence is very attractive. Especially now.

Beukes is able to jump into different characters with quite a bit of skill. A detective and single mom. A petulant teenager who can't live without her phone. A homeless ex-con. A male artist losing his grip on reality. A writer looking to reinvent himself.

The serial killer stuff is okay, not on the level of Hannibal Lecter, but I didn't mind because the characters were so well defined and I was invested in them. Beukes finds an ingenious way to crash her detective, detective's daughter, tabloid journalist, homeless ex-con and artist into each other. I was on my way to becoming a fan of this author, signing up for her mailing list and everything.

And then ... Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the donkey they rode in on. In the last sixty pages, Beukes completely switches gears, starts writing a different novel and the chain flies off the bike. I've yet to encounter a climax that fails as monumentally as the one in this book does. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist comes to mind, but that unraveled into an incoherent mess early, at 60 pages. Here, Beukes aced 374 pages before collapsing. I will reveal why for the curious:

The police procedural turns into

This switch in gears is completely unannounced. There are no seances, no indication that the serial killer we're dealing with is Doctor Strange. No doors are opened into the world of the unexplained. Beukes grounds the story in reality but like her killer, splices something foreign onto the hind quarters.

I'm at a loss to explain how this book was allowed to go to galleys with the ending that it has. The Shining Girls dealt with magical realism, so perhaps there was pressure to couch the follow-up in the same sub-genre.

This novel deserves a recall. Pull it from shelves and rewrite the last 60 pages in a sane manner, please, one that honors and respects the characters and the world the author built. I'll revise my rating accordingly. Until then, I have to slap this book with the lowest rating I can for one I finished. What a major disappointment.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,863 followers
November 8, 2014
Lauren Beukes is an interesting author. I didn't care for her book The Shining Girls at all. I felt bad though because several of my friends loved it. I think her books are going to fall that way-you either love them or hate them.
She redeemed herself for me in this one. This woman can flipping write. I thought my husband was going to super glue my lips closed because I kept wanting to quote him passages from it. I also wanted to spam status updates to my friends on GR. Oh wait, I did do that some. Yes, I'm sneaking another one in.

Had to learn the unfairness of it all firsthand. You think the world comes down to basic math. One plue one. Life for a life. But apparently that don't add up in the US Justice system, no matter what the Bible says about eyes and teeth.

The book starts off with a young boys body being found. He has been chopped in two and his other half replaced with a half a deer.
From there the book focuses on several different characters. I thought this would bother me but I didn't care. I wanted more.

One theme that continues through this book is social media, I loved how that theme sorta blended in with the whole story without being overbearing.

Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It's not the world that's the stage-it's social media, where you're trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online.

Now for what I didn't like..at about 87% I don't know what the hell happened. I almost stopped the book at that point. The whole paranormal angle? It did not work for me. I like thrillers and I like paranormal books..this one just did not mesh that well AT ALL. I did end up finishing the book and she does wrap up things. I just didn't care for it and thus the four star instead of the five I almost gave this book.

I received an arc copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,680 reviews456 followers
October 2, 2014
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Mulholland Books via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

2.5 Stars

I really think that this is one of those books that will either click in the readers mind....or not. I wanted to love this book. I saw so many good reviews for this book, many that said that this book was scary, before I sat down to read this novel. I wanted to love this book just as much as all of those readers. I wanted scary.....a lot. This book is not scary....not even a little bit scary.

This story is told from multiple points of view. Unfortunately, I did not connect with any of the points of view. I honestly believe that the number of voices in this book took away from the story. This book also had quite a few sub plots which I felt were distracting and unnecessary. I kept waiting for everything to pull together which it did for the most part towards the end of the book. The book took a strange paranormal turn at the end which was never explained and simply fell flat.

This book does have some positive points. I was completely drawn into the murder of the boy at the beginning of the book. I mean a dead boy fused with part of a dead deer....how unique is that. I was ready for more but that was really the peak of the mystery for me. This was not a hard book for me to read in any way but I just never felt drawn to the story.

I would not recommend this book to others. There are plenty of people already doing that and I am going to go against the crowd on this one. This is the first book that I have read by Lauren Beukes and I would be open to trying one of her other novels some time in the future. Maybe one of her other books will click for me.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,230 reviews1,003 followers
September 8, 2016
NetGalley sent me an 'invitation' to read this book from an author I'd never heard of. The blurb didn't necessarily make the book sound like it was my kind of thing... but I decided to give it a try. I LOVED IT.

If you're someone who's missed Kathe Koja's early writing (Strange Angels, Skin, Bad Brains, etc.) you HAVE GOT to get yourself a copy of 'Broken Monsters' ASAP. It's not that similar in actual writing style, but the content and themes are very similar: Beukes explores the fuzzy line between art and insanity. Her characters are realistic, believable people who tend to live on the fringes of society. The horror and suspense lie both in what people will do, and do to themselves - as well as in straight-up eerie supernatural bleedover into our world.

Weirdly, although Beukes lives in South Africa, 'Broken Monsters' is set in modern-day Detroit (coincidentally, where Koja has moved to), and is now heavily involved in the local arts scene.

At the outset, the book seems like it will be a fairly standard police procedural, maybe a serial killer tale. A young boy is found killed, and the crime scene is both grotesque and bizarre. We are introduced to several different viewpoint characters - the detective who's on the case, her teenage daughter, a homeless scavenger, an itinerant artist, a journalist recently arrived in town and looking to make a fresh start... Gradually, as the book progresses, the viewpoints converge, and as more clues are revealed, the situation gets weirder and more disturbing...

Great suspense, some truly creepy elements, a deft touch with the use of horror...

I'm going to have to go find more of Beukes' writing. [Update: I did go find more of her books, and I have to say, Beukes is now one of my favorite authors.]
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
November 19, 2014
This was pretty lame all around.

Lame mystery - you know the perpetrator from the get-go and there is hardly any suspense. No police work either. The whole thing culminates in some dream sequence.

Lame narrators - a teen girl (with some usual teen drama ripped from the pages of US papers); a noble black homeless man; a pathetic wannabe writer/blogger; a female detective with very poor investigating skills.

Finally, a setting - Detroit - portrayed in a lame way too.

Which brings me to this - why would a South African writer keep writing books about America? Beukes's books set in SA are much better, certainly there is more authenticity.

The only un-lame thing in this novel is the gory imagery boy's torso attached to a fawn's lower part).

I say, don't bother.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,026 reviews2,805 followers
August 1, 2020
4.0 Stars
This is a horror novel that reads like a thriller, until it clearly becomes a horror novel. Told over multiple perspectives it took awhile before the various plots intertwined. I was personally most invested in the perspective of the tough, female detective. I actually would have preferred if the entire story was written solely through her voice. I appreciated the choice of setting the novel in Detroit. The background of a decaying city added a rich layer of depth and interest to the narratives. There was so much commentary on racial prejudice and misogyny woven throughout the narrative.

My favourite aspect of the novel was murder investigation. The killer's MO was legitimately creepy! I found myself morbidly intrigued by the reasoning behind the disturbing creations. The horrific nature of the crime scenes really added to the atmosphere of the overall novel. There were a few descriptions of the murder victims which left me with some very memorable graphic imagery.

Without giving away spoilers, I think it's important for potential readers to go into this story with the right expectations. Therefore, be warned that this is not a traditional detective mystery novel. Instead, the author choose to take her story in a very unique and creative direction, which I loved.

I listened to this an audiobook, which was a fan experience because there was a different narrator for each unique perspective.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,405 followers
December 31, 2014

I wasn't super hopping crazy for Beukes's The Shining Girls, but with Broken Monsters this woman has now got my full attention. I'm here to tell you the lady's got mad skills.

It helped a lot I think that I picked this book up at the exact right time. I was ready. I was primed if you will. That kind of timing doesn't always work out. But I'd just come off my binge listening, over analyzing obsession with Sarah Koenig's Serial podcast where I lost countless hours pondering motives, cell phone logs, cell tower pings and an anti-Glee cast of Baltimore teens. I was in an arm-chair detective frame of mind. I was already down in the rabbit hole before the first page was turned. The exact right place to be for where Beukes was going to take me.

And where was that exactly? Broken Monsters is unique and surreal and dark and weird, but there's some lingering familiarity of remembrances past that give the story texture and resonance. And what the hell do I mean by that?

Well, think of the gritty procedural elements to be found in True Detective, Seven or Silence of the Lambs. That's a start. There's a substantive case here and a seasoned kick-ass woman detective chasing down clues and following a trail that's twisted (and broken!) and could run cold at any moment. There's pacing and reveals. Tension and release.

Then there's the atmosphere, mood and vivid -- vivid! -- descriptions of crime scenes, urban decay, and violence that bleed across the page -- an artistic fusion of destruction with creation -- visual feasts in the mind's eye both terrible and beautiful.

The following images may be offensive to some so I shall hide them behind a spoiler tag. However, fans of True Detective and NBC's Hannibal should click (because you know you want to).

I mention these two television shows not just for the obvious authentic procedural similarities found in Broken Monsters, but for each show's masterful artistic vision and gobsmacking cinematography. Whatever inky black well these kinds of hellish tableaux originate from, Beukes has a bucket of her own and is drinking her fill to bursting.

Something else she's mastered with Broken Monsters is a rich cast of characters whose stories intertwine and crash together then rip apart again. She is a maestro here -- a mad puppet master -- creating a symphony of action and reaction. I surely do not want to be Job when this woman is God.

With so many characters running around you really have to sit up and pay attention as a reader. Beukes is not slacking so we can't either. It's easy to get a bit lost and confused in the early stages getting to know everyone and their back stories. It wasn't a smooth transition for me -- I had to go back and re-read a few sections just to orient myself before I read on. But that's okay. With that kind of investment comes huge reward.

I can't say I was completely satisfied with the crashing cacophony that was the book's climax. In some ways it was effing brilliant -- in others it was a hot mess (get on board the Lindsey Lohan/Charlie Sheen train to hell!!!!) Still, as Charlie would say: WINNING!

I agree Charlie. This is definitely a check mark in the win column for Lauren Beukes. I'll be coming back for more.

(Sorry, but nobody puts Charlie in a corner under a spoiler tag. Deal with it people)
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
454 reviews1,717 followers
August 23, 2022
"The body. The-body-the-body-the-body, she thinks. Words lose their meaning when you repeat them. So do bodies, even in all their variations. Dead is dead. It's only the hows and the whys that vary. Tick them off: Exposure. Gunshot. Stabbing. Bludgeoning with a blunt instrument, sharp instrument, no instrument at all when bare knuckles will do. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. It's Murder Bingo! But even violence has its creative limits."

In Broken Monsters, Detective Gabi Versado is about to dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of a killer who is possessed by a superconsciousness known as "the dream," which is pushing him to bend and break the creative boundaries of murder.

Detroit. A body on the ground. The detective examines the scene. The body in question is a teenage boy - the lower half of his body is gone, fused with the legs of a deer. Yeah, it's fucked. From here the narrative switches back and forth between the viewpoints of five exceptionally drawn characters: Detective Versado, her angsty teenage daughter Layla, an aging hipster journalist, a homeless man caught up in the case and the delusional killer.

Most of my rating for this book comes down to the characters. They filled my ears, wrapped themselves around my brain and pressed against the backs of my eyelids in all their vivid, tangible and emotionally damaged beauty. The dialogue, the actions, reactions and emotions - it all just makes me want to get out my Nicole Kidman Grinch hands...

I was blown away by the character studies Beukes created and how their individual stories intertwined, and stood alone, in perfect timing.

All that being said, this didn't read as "horror" to me. There is a certain horror in the way the author uses this story to explain our own unbelievable reality here on Earth. And there are not many murders considering that we are dealing with a serial killer, but the space between is full of suspense and an overall sense of drama with just the right amount of humour thrown in.

I can't say I was impressed by the whirlwind hot mess of an ending, but I can't say that it ruined my reading experience either.

This was definitely an ambitious undertaking, and while for me it didn't totally live up to my expectations, this was still a solid read and an addictive character study.

⭐⭐⭐½ | 3.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,736 followers
September 29, 2015
Wow, what happened!?!?!

What a weird mystery - I guess some of my review may be spoilerish, so proceed with caution.

It started out like a normal serial killer mystery, but then things just got weird. You start to wonder what's real, whats a hallucination, and what might really be dark magic/demonic possession.

I think the main point the author is trying to get across are the dangers of social media. It is a strong theme throughout the book - characters craving attention, paying the price for over exposure, etc. Even the final resolution

I enjoyed this one, but I cannot say for sure I understand what happened - but I am not sure that we are supposed to understand it. We are just supposed to accept the fact that there are demons out there, and if we open ourselves up without caution, bad things could happen to us.
Profile Image for Ami.
291 reviews279 followers
May 20, 2014
I come to you with my bona fides as a horror movie fan to say: this book is TERRIFYING. Like, turn on the light, double check the lock kind of scary. I don't think I've been so freaked out by a book since my parents let me read Salem's Lot when I was 11.

The novel begins with the police discovering a dead boy, well, the top half of a dead boy, sewn to the bottom half of a fawn. And it just gets weirder and creepier from there. If you've read Beukes' The Shining Girls this book has similarities, but is not a sequel.

Broken Monsters is set in Detroit, but it's not the same Detroit that one normally sees. Yes, there's ruin porn, and yes, there's art made with wild abandon, and wannabe DJs and artists and homeless people, but this Detroit sits in between both of the narratives you've heard. It's neither wholly destroyed or a thriving neo-Portland. This Detroit felt more real to me.

Interestingly, as a writer, Beukes seems to have ideas and images that she needs to work into every story. I mean this as a compliment. Images surface in both Shining Girls and in Broken Monsters that are not related, but sort of rhyme with each other. Doors are extremely important in both stories--in Shining Girls, as a method both for time travel and for escaping time. In Broken Monsters, the doors represent a place where two worlds connect, the one we see in front of us, and the one we know is there. Women who have special powers work to solve crimes in both books, but in each case their powers are confusing to them and to us, a bit unexplained and unformed. I feel like Beukes has told this story twice, both times well, Broken Monsters slightly better. It's as if she is circling an idea, unable to stop writing it, each time getting a little closer to the core. I'll happily keep reading until she finds it.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,004 reviews2,596 followers
October 31, 2014
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/10/31/b...

It’s been a while since I read a good horror novel. Broken Monsters proved to be just the thing I needed, turning out to be a cross-genre piece with mystery and thriller elements as well. Also, high time I read something from Lauren Beukes, and looks like I’ve been missing out all this time.

Of course, the best part is the paranormal elements. I’m a big fan of the supernatural or the otherworldly in my horror; to me they make the story more interesting by often ramping up the creep factor. From the outset, however, and actually for much of the novel, Broken Monsters presents itself as a police crime mystery, opening with the bizarre and grisly find of a body. Apparently the disturbed killer had taken the top half of a boy’s corpse and the bottom half of a deer’s corpse and somehow fused the two together. This is definitely not a safe and cheery read, and the squeamish reader should be aware of some scenes in here that are just downright twisted and weird.

An atmosphere of gloom and despair settles like a shroud over the story, taking place in the economically hard hit city of Detroit. We follow the events of the investigation through the eyes of a handful of characters – the hardened and experienced Detective Gabriella Versado who has the role of lead investigator on the murder case morbidly codenamed “Bambi”; her daughter Layla, a precocious teenager who nonetheless finds herself tangled in different kinds of trouble while her mother spends most of her time on police work; Jonno, a journalist desperately trying to make a name for himself and getting lucky by stumbling upon the case while covering the underground art scene in Detroit; Thomas Keen AKA T.K., a vagrant with a good heart who just wants to forget his checkered past and stay clean going forward. And of course, every now and then we also get glimpses into the mind of the killer himself, and those snippets sure aren’t pretty.

What is the connection between a teenager and a homeless man? Or the link between an upstart journalist and a Detroit detective? Thing is, everyone has a role to play in this novel, and half the fun was watching the lives of these disparate people unfold and seeing how it all comes together. Broken Monsters is about the hunt for a deranged serial killer, to apprehend him before more badly mutilated bodies turn up, but it’s also about so much more. Beukes goes in depth for each of her characters, going into their pasts and digging up their deepest secrets and own personal monsters. By painting her characters in this naked and blunt realism, the author in turn adds another layer to her gritty, chilling tale.

I really like these kinds of psychological thrillers, the ones that seek not to bombard you with blood and gore. Even though there are some graphic scenes in Broken Monsters, they are not gratuitous. Instead, the story worms its way down to unsettle the reader at a deeper level, stirring up a sense of dread that doesn’t go away as you’re reading. I always find these horror novels to be more effective, because experience tends to stay with me longer. Once the spell is cast, it wraps around you and doesn’t let go very easily.

Like I said, there is a paranormal element here but it doesn’t come into play until quite late in the novel. Personally speaking, that is perhaps the only less-than-ideal factor, but it’s by no means a disappointment. I enjoyed the police procedural-type style of storytelling when it came into play, and also took everything else – like Jonno’s journalistic ventures or Layla’s teenage shenanigans – in stride. I loved the feeling of being held in suspense, wondering who might be the next victim or when the police might make a breakthrough. The ending was really what made Broken Monsters for me, when everything came to a head in the most uncanny and freaky way imaginable.

If you’re looking for a horror-thriller that’s a bit different, I would highly recommend this book. Characters, setting and themes all came together very nicely to deliver one hell of an experience. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Lauren Beukes after this.
Profile Image for Mangrii.
846 reviews236 followers
June 3, 2018
Un crimen de fachada macabra ha ocurrido en Detroit, y la detective Gabriella Versado es la encargada de la investigación. Un agente novato del cuerpo ha encontrado el cadáver de un chico afroamericano, horriblemente mutilado, cortado por la mitad y fusionado de cintura para abajo a las extremidades inferiores de un ciervo. A su vez, una serie de historias; Layla, la adolescente hija de la detective Versado llena de dramas, Jonno, un periodista fracasado que busca renacer llamado Jonno; TK, un sin techo con una dura vida que se dedica a recoger artículos en casas abandonadas; y el propio punto de vista del asesino, que compondrán una trama llena de asesinatos, misterios y elementos fantásticos.

Una historia con estilo de novela negra, combinada en cierto modo por una parte de fantasía. Con una prosa potente y directa, y unos diálogos de lo más interesantes, Beukes nos va relatando la historia a través de diversos puntos de vista que llegan a confluir, dotando a cada personaje de voz propia y con particularidades que los distinguen. Se sirve además de una escritura que echa mano de muchos recursos actuales, como chats o memes, para acercar en cierta manera al lector y hacer la historia más realista. Los capítulos cortos, intercalando los diferentes personajes, hacen que el ritmo de lectura sea muy rápido y adictivo, generando la ansiedad de querer seguir leyendo.

Uno de los puntos interesantes de la novela es la multitud de temas de actualidad que introduce, de reflexiones sobre el peligro de la búsqueda de la fama instantánea en nuestra sociedad moderna, llegando al extremo obsesivo con tal de conseguir su objetivo. Otros temas interesantes son el acoso escolar, la pederastia que se da en los mundos cibernéticos a día de hoy, o la imposibilidad de borrar por completo tu propio rastro por internet. También la visión sobre la sociedad desfavorecida o marginados sociales, como son invisibles a nuestros ojos cuando son personas muy necesitadas. Pero el punto máximo a favor de la obra para mi es tener el macabro punto de vista del asesino, como se va transformando en ese monstruo que nos anuncia ya solo en el título, le da a la obra un toque totalmente diferente.

Una lectura sorprendente y adictiva, que me ha atrapado intentando adivinar como se hilaban todas las tramas; una lectura por momentos dura y llegando a ser estremecedora que recomiendo encarecidamente a todo el mundo.

Reseña en el blog: https://boywithletters.blogspot.com/2...
Profile Image for Erica.
1,315 reviews432 followers
July 17, 2015
Here's how this played out for me.

I was listening along - there are four different narrators in this audiobook, by the way - and enjoying the story immensely. It was standard Homicide detective vs Mad serial killer fare only there were cool little twists like the serial killer wasn't even trying to stay one step ahead of the police, wasn't leaving bodies to be found in order to taunt authorities. He wasn't trying to not get caught, the cops weren't even on his radar. No, he was doing ART!

coloring photo: COLORING I_fuckin___love_coloring_by_WhiteSt.jpg

There were so many yucky men in the story - Clayton and his creepy delusions, Pedo-Phil, Jonno...all yucky for different reasons and it was so fun to be icked out by these guys. And there were good guys, too, so it wasn't all man-hatery, or anything.
Layla, though, she charmed me to bits with her fears and her bravery. She tried to do the right things but made stupid mistakes and then made everything worse each time she tried to fix it all herself. That's part of being fifteen, I guess, though, usually, you don't have to contend with serial killers. Usually.
There were chapter titles made of song lyrics (earworm central, people) and bits of pop culture dropped here and there in amusing yet appropriate ways. Such fun!

Like I said, I was enjoying Detective Gabriella trying to figure out the mismatched body creatures from a logical, crime-fighting perspective while Clayton was going about his artistic business, being all Kyle MacLaclan-Crazy in his drive to do as his obsession demanded. From the sidelines, Jonno and TK (love him, too) were barreling in and I knew they were all gonna meet up and POW!

Only, no. Not POW!

 photo Consuela says NO_zps5uktjrc3.jpg

For no good reason that I could see, the story went from serial killer suspense novel to King-esque speculative horror. Why? WHY?
It's like biking along and you get to a hill and the sun is shining and there are no bugs in the air and you go down the hill and it's thrilling and you know you could get hurt but you maintain control and you open your arms wide as you balance perfectly on the bike beneath you and you tip your face to the sun, wind in you hair, sailing along in bliss and WHAM! a logging truck comes out of nowhere and smears you.
Oh. Wait. That was a movie, not this book. But it was the same type of unexpected but lame ending and I was not pleased at all.
Yes, yes, I know there were hints here and there of supernatural elements but I, in my "I pretend I'm smart" brain, thought, "Oh, this is going to be an amazing look at how obsession can create madness and how that madness can spread to those who don't share the obsession and that's how cults start" so on and so forth. I really thought it was a big psychological build-up and I was prepared to be wowed.

I was not wowed.

I was thrown into the old gods and "If you believe in fairies, then clap your hands" and I'm not a fan of speculative horror in the first place, so...it was exactly like going for that delicious glass of tea (or whiskey) and finding out it's cheap apple juice made from concentrate and misery.

Dammit to hell.
Profile Image for Mohammed.
422 reviews511 followers
May 26, 2020
الجنون فنون، وعندما يكون المجنون الفنان سفاحًا فسيتركب جرائما شنيعة باسم الفن. وهذا ماسيدركه سكّان ديترويت عندما يستيقظون على جثة رأسها رأس صبي وجسدها جسد غزال. تلك هي الجريمة الأخرى لكنها ليست بالأخيرة.

دعوني أولاً أتذكر كيف وقعت يداي على هذه الرواية، نعم تذكرت، كانت إحدى الروايات التي أوصى بها ستيفن كنج (طال عمره) بال��صف التالي: "مخيفة كالجحيم، وساحرة...لم أستطع أن أتوقف عن قراءتها". عرفت أن الكاتبة جنوب أفريقية حائزة على عدة جوائز، كما أن الفكرة العامة للرواية جذبتني. قررت قراءتها ولم أندم.

تدور الرواية حول قاتل مختل، وربما ممسوس أيضًا، يحاول أن يثبت قدراته الفنية للعالم عن طريق التمثيل بالجثث البشرية. هناك أيضًا المحققة غابرييلا المسؤولة عن القاضية تعاني من مشاكلها مع ابنتها المراهقة، بالإضافة إلى جونو الصحفي الفاشل المستميت للحصول على سبق صحفي. والعديد من الشخصيات الثرية المميزة من حيث الصفات ومن حيث الأحداث التي يمرون بها.

الحبكة محكمة وهناك جرعة من الغموض والتشويق. الحوارات ممتعة وبها كمية كبيرة من السخرية اللذيذة. كما أن الأحداث تدور في مواقع تستحث الخيال مثل معارض الفنانين الهواة، مصانع ديترويت المهجورة والحارات العتيقة.

مأخذي على الرواية هو مأخذي المعتاد على أعمال ستيفن كنج وهو التشعب في الشخصيات وقصصها الجانبية لدرجة أنها تطغى على المساحة الورقية المخصصة للحدث أو العُقدة الرئيسية. وبذلك يتحول النص من رواية غموض/رعب/تشويق إلى رواية درامية. دراما من النوع الممتاز، لا أنكر ذلك، ولكنني لم أختر تلك الرواية من أجل الجانب الدرامي. أيضًا لم تعجبني المسحة الماورائية للنهاية، لم تُهيتني الكاتبة لهذا المنحى، أو ربما حاولت ولكنني لم أستوعب التلميح. تعاملت معها كرواية جريمة لا كرواية فانتازيا أو ماوارء الطبيعة.

رواية ممتعة تستحق القراءة رغم تحفظي على النص في بعض المواضع.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,027 reviews661 followers
March 26, 2015
In a blighted industrial area of Detroit, a ten year old boy has been found, his body redesigned by a madman. The youngster is dead, of course, as is the fawn whose hindquarters have been grafted onto the boy's torso. This launches a police hunt for a deranged killer who is creating his "art" in the hope of changing the world, and he's just getting started. So messed up, so creepy.

Beware the chalk-drawn doors blending in with the graffiti, vaguely disguising dreaming places where the walls are thin. Tattoos come to life (a good reason to think twice about what you choose for your own skin illustrations, just in case). See the faces 'hungry with grotesque curiosity', and hear the phrases that are getting worn down like shoes.

This is my first introduction to this author, and I am mightily impressed. Loved the darkness of the story, and agree with other reviewers about the tone of it bringing to mind the excellent True Detective on HBO last season.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
August 20, 2014
What a crazy ride. I love thrillers, and while YA thrillers can be a lot of fun and even sometimes pretty creepy, it never lives up to what an adult book can dish out. This is your hardcore serial killer novel involving a mentally unstable psycho who thinks he's doing the world a favor.

This story is told with the help of several perspectives: from the killer himself, to the detective trying to find him; to her daughter, along with a few other key players. Beukes tackles multiple POVs with excellence. Even though each character is widely different - we go from a homeless man to teenage girls - every single one has a distinct, realistic voice that makes it easy to slip into their psyche, in addition to making the switch between each one, flawless. Because of the cryptic, ambiguous writing style, you're made to wonder how all of these people even link together at first, but little by little, we're drawn into this disturbing, yet oddly fascinating spiderweb of horror. This also keeps you on the edge of your seat as you come to care about these people, all the while knowing what they're walking into.

The plot itself starts off as your typical creepy serial killer story. We've got a man who believes he's being controlled by an evil that has taken over his mind and body. His instability is clear from the very start, where we observe him talking about other dimensions and believing he can create living creatures from his "art" (which terrifying as hell!). Then we move on to a lot of detective work and subplots that may or may not be all that related to the main story. While these were interesting enough to keep me intrigued, I'm not sure all of the side stories were necessary. The whole ordeal with the pedophile only added more pages to an already thick book without being all that useful, other than maybe an excuse to give us more of the daughter's POV so we get to know her. Although I'm not convinced her POV was necessary at all, to be honest. The blogger/journalist-wannabe was also a bit boring. The purpose of his story becomes clear at the end, but before that point I was mostly irritated by his obsession with his fifteen minutes of fame. It's a plot that's in no hurry! I also think this is one instance where taking long breaks between reading was detrimental to my enjoyment of the book. It's the opposite of a light read - it needs all your attention.

The ending is… something else. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I do know that it's a hell of a ride, and the climax is intense. But then the story turns into something else entirely. It's done with just enough bewilderment to leave us to believe what we want to believe. I'm not really a fan of this kind of think-of-it-as-you-wish ending. At least not in this instance where one idea hints at the paranormal.

I have not read The Shinning Girls - which I hear is fantastic - so I can't say how this one compares. The writing style is one aspect I enjoyed enough to want to try it. She combines humor, sarcasm, and horror in perfect balance, along with genuine characters and sincere emotions. My best advice is to go into it with an open mind, and get ready for a long ride.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Brandon.
895 reviews234 followers
July 30, 2014
Detective Gabriella Versado is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A boy who had recently been declared missing is found chopped in half, his lifeless torso sewn to the lower half of a deer carcass. The crime, albeit an exceptionally grizzly one, is yet another statistic within the husk of the once powerful city of Detroit and it’s not long before the person believed to be responsible for the murder kills again. With a serial killer on the loose, can Gabi track down and put an end to the rampage or will the body count continue to rise?

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the straightforward description above, Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters is so much more. While the murder mystery and the pursuit of a serial killer both form the backbone of the novel, commentaries on the fragility of the American Dream, the permanence of social media and the ever increasing poverty problem flesh it out, giving it certain richness that could have easily been lost in a run of the mill, by-the-book thriller.

Very much like Stephen King’s Carrie and more recently, Nick Cutter’s The Troop, Beukes pulls information from the world outside Gabi’s case in the form of internet culture, slipping it into the story. By injecting posts from fictitious Facebook accounts, a subreddit titled “r/detroitmonster” as well as comments through various YouTube videos, Beukes applies a real world feel to the thrilling tale that extends the story beyond the city limits of Detroit.

From beginning to end, Beukes had me hooked and the pages kept flying by. I can’t wait to see what she does next. With Broken Monsters, Beukes doesn’t have to worry about eclipsing her previous effort, The Shining Girls; she outshines it (excuse the terrible pun).

Expected Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,693 reviews14.1k followers
September 23, 2014
Taking place in a broken down Detroit, a group of artists is trying to resurrect the reputation of the city by centering on a new and inventive burgeoning art scene. A killer, however has his own idea about art and is using human bodies to make hideous forms. Detective Gabble, a single mom raising a teenage daughter, is assigned to head the investigation, and unbeknown to her, her daughter is investigating and trying to attract the online pedophiles.

I have to applaud this author because with this book and her last The Shining Girls, she is writing thrillers that are new and different. The story is suspenseful, the characters like Jonno, a reporter trying to make the big time and filming everything he can get his hands on, all ring true. Conducting an investigation in this day and age with so many taking pictures with their phones and spreading them on the internet, is a big challenge. Chalked doors that lead, who knows where, dreams that have a life of their own, grotesque half-human art work are all parts of this story.

In closing I just want to say that I knew cell phones were evil. LOL

ARC from publisher.
Profile Image for Kaora.
559 reviews280 followers
July 22, 2015
Color me surprised.

I admit I didn't go into this for high hopes. I picked it up for a challenge, but having read both The Shining Girls and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes previously and feeling lukewarm about both I was pretty positive this was going to be the same.

Was I ever wrong!

But the boy is a dead, empty thing. It has done it all wrong. This stupid head, these stupid hands. It tries to remember how it came through, the man in the woods and the lure of uninhabited spaces-a vacancy that dream can rush in to fill, a door to step through.

Broken Monsters is about a boy who is found murdered, cut in half at the waist and glued to the bottom half of a deer. It follows several points of view including Gabi, the cop in charge of the investigation, her daughter Layla, a journalist and various others.

The problem with multiple POVs is that it takes a bit to get into the story and learn who everyone is, which is true here as well, but in no time at all the depravity of the crime, and the interesting characters sucked me in and I found myself stuck in this world wanting answers.

Beukes does a great job at capturing her characters and making them seem believable. Combined with her powerful way with words makes this a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend for any horror lover.
Profile Image for Fatman.
117 reviews50 followers
February 4, 2023
True Detective meets Hannibal meets H P Lovecraft. Lauren Beukes pulls no punches and skillfully guides multiple narrative threads toward a shocking climax. Broken Monsters is a horrifying thrill ride which I enjoyed to the very last page.
Profile Image for Amanda.
106 reviews57 followers
December 27, 2015
I want to preface my review by stating that even though I enjoy horror, it's not a genre I read very often. I usually get in the mood for something horrific in the month of October. I chose Broken Monsters because of the high praise from Stephen King, the master himself.

The premise of this novel is terrifying: a serial killer who has killed a young boy and attached the bottom half of a deer to the mutilated corpse. The book really grabbed me in the beginning and was suspenseful, in spite of the fact that the killer soon becomes apparent.

The wide array of POVs seemed to be a bit excessive. My favorite character, per se, was the city of Detroit. Beukes portrays a city struggling with urban decay on the verge of an artistic reemergence. I also enjoyed her commentary on social media.

Broken Monsters is an ambitious novel and Beukes is a skilled writer, but I was disappointed with the ending and the supernatural twist.

Memorable quotes:

"They used to put people in stocks to shame them in public. Now you just need a wi-fi connection."

"Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It's not the world that's the stage- it's social media, where you're trying to put on a show."

Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,738 reviews750 followers
April 4, 2020
This book is stunningly dark and I adored every second of it. It’s a bit of a slow go at first, or it was for me at least, but it’s SO worth it if you push through! I loved how each point of view seemed to be completely on its own but then slowly the threads began mingling and connections were subtly popping up and you take a step back and see the full mind blowing masterpiece. It’s truly amazing how Beukes weaves it all together in the end. What I loved most about this book though is that it’s brutal and it’s dark and gritty and gory and wonderfully weird, I felt like I was living in a dream, or rather a nightmare, while I was reading it and it was such a spectacular feeling.
Profile Image for Sarah.
729 reviews73 followers
October 8, 2016
4.5 stars again. I just love this book! This time I listened to the audio and it was a fantastic experience. There are multiple POV characters and each character has a different narrator. When I first read the book I found that many narrators to be a bit jarring but it works much more smoothly in the audio. Still, I can't say whether I would recommend the audio or the tree book because both are totally awesome.
Profile Image for Bill.
921 reviews298 followers
February 6, 2017
Well. I'm not sure where to begin with this one.

First, an anecdote of what it is to be me. This is the second consecutive book I have read to have a character with Ouija board letters tattooed on her stomach. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time. Really, really strange coincidences. So there's that. On to the review.

Lauren Beukes really impressed me last year when I read The Shining Girls. In it, she put her own bent slant onto the serial killer genre with a time-travelling psychopath. A lot of people had closure issues with that one, but I thought it was brilliant.
Now comes Broken Monsters. This, again a serial killer theme, but with...oh, I wish I could tell you...

Suffice it to to say that with two novels that are essentially crime thrillers with a weird turn to them, I think we can say at this point that this lady is a genre unto herself.

This book read like gangbusters.
(It's worth noting that our home office has completed renovations and I am once again working in the downtown core of Ottawa after 3 years in a temporary location. Within that time I have gotten married and moved to a new home and I have decided to give public transit another chance. I now love it. It's a quiet 50 minute commute and I now have 100 more minutes to read every weekday! Thus the ripping through this book.)

Where was I? Yes, the book read like gangbusters and man, towards the later part things seriously become unglued, in a holy shit, everything is happening kind of way. But while the main storyline was of course the main focus, my favourite aspects of the novel were around Layla and Cas, the detective's daughter and her friend, and their social media activity. Beukes is also making a statement on social media in the way it comes into play with the investigation.

Again, Beukes has top writing chops. Her prose is very good and dialogue is very authentic.
I'll listen to any story she has to tell. 3.5 stars rounded up.
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