Friday, June 7, 2013

The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Little, Brown & Company; 6/4/2013
Hardcover, 375 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316216852

The girl who wouldn't die hunts the killer who shouldn't exist.
"The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own."
Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.
Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.
At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.
Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .
THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

My Thoughts:

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes shadows Harper Curtis, a time traveling serial killer in Chicago and his last potential victim, Kirby Mazrachi. After Harper finds the House, the secret that allows him to travel through time, he began looking for the shining girls, the girls that have special potential, a spark, inside of them. They all must die. From 1934 to 1993 Harper finds them when they are young, leaves a token of some sort with them and then comes back to kill them in the future when they are adults. After he kills he leaves behind another token - something he has taken from another victim.
Kirby should have been a victim, but, beating all odds, she lived through his brutal attack. Now her overriding goal is to find Harper and stop him. Kirby uses her internship with Dan Velasquez, a former crime reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper to help track Harper down by looking for his victims. She knows the man who attacked her is a serial killer. What she doesn't know is how the House allows him to escape.
The Shining Girls is a combination science fiction/thriller. As the chapters jump through time and to different victims, paying close attention to the year and the character for each chapter will benefit readers. Although the novel includes time travel, which naturally places it in the science fiction genre, any technical aspects of the time traveling are ignored, reducing it more to a clever way to move the plot along. This lack of any explanation beyond the house wanted it, results in The Shining Girls really being more the thriller as we follow the murders.
Not that being a thriller is necessarily bad. Kirby is a determined character and I think that most readers will be very involved in her search, hoping she succeeds in finding Harper's identity. As Harper travels in different time periods, Beukes does take care to set the historical details in place to at least capture some of the nuances of the different time periods. There are indications that this could be "the" novel of the summer. It is certainly a good choice for a vacation book, but doesn't have some of the surprising twists that might be expected.
Highly Recommended
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Little, Brown & Company via Netgalley for review purposes.

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