Trudi's Reviews > The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
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bookshelves: arc, netgalley, on-my-kobo, crime-mystery, time-travel, 2013, fantastical-speculative

There's a lot for me to love about this book:

1) The main character Kirby is fantastic. She is a survivor (literally), independent, courageous and determined, a bit of a smart ass with a smart mouth. But she's no mere Mary Sue, possessing vulnerabilities and flaws that make her uniquely "Kirby" and nobody else. I found her funny and totally sympathetic. Quite honestly, the entire novel pivots around her. Without her, the intricate house of cards the author builds would collapse in on itself at the slightest shift.

2) The villain Harper is a skeevy, creepy predator, a wholly horrific construct of misogyny and homicidal tendencies. There isn't much depth or nuance to this guy -- he's just a walking talking body of hedonistic impulses and demented desires. We don't get any personal history for him or why he should have become what he's become. We know some of his twisted motivations derive from the magical qualities of "the House" -- but not all of them. You could even argue that "the House" sees the evil in him and draws Harper to itself.

3) It's about time travel in that tangly mind-fuck way that makes my brain itch, a pleasant buzz but one with bite. The mechanics of the time travel are not explained or explored in the ways they usually are in a sci-fi novel. The time travel just exists. There is a "House" that holds the magic and its door opens onto different years of the same city anywhere from the 1930s to the 1990s. It's this "House" that allows for a time traveling serial killer, and for that unique premise alone the book deserves a second look.

What can I say? This book has a lot going for it, and I liked it, I liked it a lot. But not once did I love it. I was intrigued, I played along with the mystery of the time travel, fitting pieces together where I could and trying not to get too caught up in the logic, faulty or otherwise. While Kirby stood out bright as the sun as one of "the Shining Girls", the rest of Harper's victims feel underdeveloped by comparison, almost throwaways, mere plot devices. It was hard not to get them mixed up with each other.

I also felt a tad underwhelmed by Kirby's "hunt" of her attempted killer. The uncovering and following of clues felt clunky, a cobbled together hodge-podge process where results are based more on luck and coincidence than real groundwork and actual "hunting".

This is largely a plot driven piece and if puzzles and the snake eating its own tail nature of time travel appeals to you then definitely check this out. As I was reading it, I was struck by its cinematic qualities, and won't be surprised if The Shining Girls gets optioned for the big screen.

This review is also posted to Busty Book Bimbo
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Reading Progress

May 8, 2013 – Shelved
May 14, 2013 –
Started Reading
May 15, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Jessi (new) - added it

Jessi just downloaded hope to start next week!

Trudi I'm not very far in yet, but what I've read so far is intriguing!

Silma Parker agree 100%. read the whole book without losing interest, but it didn't make an impact on me the way it did with other readers. I thought it would be a lot more hard-hitting psychologically than it actually was. But overall it was still definitely worth the read.

Trudi Silma wrote: "agree 100%. read the whole book without losing interest, but it didn't make an impact on me the way it did with other readers..."

Me too Silma. I love Kirby and think she is wonderfully carved out, but there's definitely something missing overall in the reading experience. I wanted the gut-punch, that emotional resonance, and I just didn't get it.

Robert A time traveling serial killer...certainly sounds intriguing, although your review forces me to pause.

Trudi It's definitely an interesting premise Robert, I just didn't think it was executed very well. It's a good book, but missing some critical elements to make it a great book. I'll be very surprised to see it take off as the " it" book of the summer.

message 7: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I have read this one being more like Flynn, and more like one of those summer reads you find on the grocery store shelves, than i have heard anything else. Its disappointing because i actually own it and wanted to read it next, but i wont if it falls short like all of the current shock, awe, plot driven, poorly constructed character 'must be read page turners". I am still getting over 'before you go to sleep'.

Ddocean This reviewer makes several good points, but I don't agree with the comment at the end re. the "hunt." I thought the hunt was very realistic. She did a LOT of research that went nowhere, as would be the case in real life. She slowly found clues and tried to make sense of them. I liked the book much more than this reviewer did - it is my favorite book of 2013 (so far).

Chip Yup. This is a summer movie in waiting. Disappointingly shallow.

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