Broken monsters, by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters Book Cover Broken Monsters
Lauren Beukes
Horror, Mystery
July 31st 2014

Lauren Beukes is one of my "auto-buy" authors. With good reason, because she can write novels that look eerily like plain crime investigations that I still find very interesting and readable.  Of course, that might be because it turns out not to be very plain after all.  Some of the imagery in Broken Monsters will inevitably make certain readers long for the next Hannibal season, though there aren't many similarities beyond that.

Our cast is a handful of police detectives, a couple of teenagers, a struggling-for-hipness author with graying hair, a diabetic DJ, bits and pieces of the art millieu, oh, and the city of Detroit.  Detroit plays a major part, and its characterization is difficult for me-the-foreigner to judge. I accepted Robocop-Detroit,  I'll obviously accept any Detroit.  The rest of the gang, though! Beautifully nowhere-near-perfect but also not-irreedeemably-flawed, all of them.  Even the big bad is, well, it's complicated.

I noticed a review headlined "The heir to Stephen King's throne?" - which is, well, not a thought I had, but it does place the novel on the genre-map.  (And it means it's a good read for Spooktober, you know, if you weren't convinced yet.)  Other qualities this novel possesses include "unputdownable-ness" and "sharp-but-casual-observations-about-human-beings-ism".  That last one might not be a commonly used -ism, but, well, there you go.

The changing character viewpoints are not a new or extraordinary technique, but in this book, I feel like it firmly cements the feeling that everything has an audience, all the time. For good or bad - though perhaps mostly bad:  The moment a boy stands alone waiting for the bus, unwatched, someone shows up to watch him. A bad someone.   A girl having an unfortunate experience at a party doesn't get to be forgotten; she, too, is watched, by several-digit youtube hits.   An internet predator watching for prey is in turn watched by others.  Everyone is under constant scrutiny, sometimes extending far beyond the moment of action.  No one lives off-stage.

I'd recommend this book to - a very wide audience, actually. If it was translated, I could even try pushing it at my family members who tend to be "normal readers", which means they read crime/thrillers. And then readers like me will find the same story appealing because of 1) the part of it that is infact horror/supernatural and mostly 2) the excellent, excellent writing.

Would I advise anyone against reading this novel? Well, maybe if you really hate police procedurals. Or you know it'll give you nightmares.  No one needs extra nightmares, even if it is October.


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