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Book Review

‘Broken Monsters’

10/15/2014

bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Julie Goodrich

Mulholland Books

9-16-14

448pp

HIV

$26.00

I like my horror subtle and my thrillers, well, thrilling. A bit of magical realism is the frosting to my cupcake. In other words, Lauren Beukes newest masterpiece, “Broken Monsters,” was basically written for me. The balance and seamless workings of the divergent plots and themes are brilliant in their effortlessness. Beukes is known to bend genres to her will; she succeeds admirably.

The story starts with a dramatic, disturbing murder. To Detective Gabriella Versado of the Detroit Police Department, it’s immediately apparent there is a seriously disturbed mind at work. From these bare bones of a plot, the perspective changes dramatically. First to Versado’s bright, uncertain daughter, Layla, who’s trying to grow up in a world that is both achingly familiar to any former teen and brutally different in the age of social media. Next, a washed-up writer with a chip on his shoulder — his arrogant, obsessive, self-centered ramblings making him both incredibly unlikeable but also sadly relatable — and a rich counterpoint to Layla’s vitality and promise. The fourth POV is T.K., an avatar of the city and the violence, poverty and gritty hope that defines it. Detroit is more character than setting — drawn with clear realism, but shining with a pride that seems almost laughable in the face of so much adversity. Finally, the killer and his frantic insanity become a narrative pair — passionate, haunting and sad; it’s a contradiction that worms into your brain and leaves nightmares in its wake.

Beukes has created a skin-crawling work of art. The tension actually caused me goose-bumps, several times. It’s exceedingly rare for my jaded soul to have such a visceral reaction. Read it before they cast Ben Affleck in the movie; you’ll be glad you did. CV

Julie is a collector of pretty words and obsolete college degrees. She lives in Grimes with an obscene number of books. She likes cupcakes, hipster music and Deadpool comics. Use these things to lure her out of her cave, just be careful, she may bite.

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