Book Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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19874243Title: Broken Monsters

Author: Lauren Beukes

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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. The cops nickname him “Bambi,” but 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 over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist, Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you’re Thomas Keen, you’ll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed with setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.

I’m still struggling to review Broken Monsters and it’s been a few days since I finished it. In truth, the book isn’t bad, and if it were up to writing style alone, it deserved more than three stars. Lauren Beukes is an excellent writer, and knows her craft.

However, books are about more than writing style. There’s also plot, and that’s where the book drops the mark. In theory, the plot is great. A murderer connects the upper half of a boy to the lower part of a deer, and that’s only the first murder he commits. The murders grow increasingly more strange, and one of our main charcter, Gabriella Versado, a detective with the Detroit police department, has to solve the case. In theory, it sounds good. There’s also a connection with the art community, and the city of Detroit is described in great detail, giving the book more credibility and causing a better writing experience.

Then the book warps from a murder mystery into a paranormal thriller, with the mention of doors serving as gateways. Now I’m the first person to admit I love police procedurals that morph into paranormal thrillers, but here it just totally unraveled the plot. No longer were we hunting for the killer, we were trapped in a paranormal nightmare that read more like a bad acid trip. Instead of enhancing the plot, the paranormal aspect weakened it, and the murders suddenly lost most of their importance.

Then there’s the characters. Gabriella is all right. She’s your stereotypical struggling working mom who also happens to be a detective, divorced and unable to have a healthy love relationship with anyone except her daughter. Said daughter, Layla, a teenager, gets a POV too and turns out to be a major part of the plot. Next up is TK, a homeless man who we don’t really learn all that much about, and Jonno a struggling author turned film maker who is a despicable human being and does everything to become famous, even if it means not giving vital evidence to the police. Each of those characters also seemed to have a subplot going on, and that took a lot of the focus away from the main plot. I don’t mind a few subplots, but we just got too much of those here. The many characters made it hard to connect to one. I could connect with Gabriella somewhat, and if the whole book had been from her POV, I probably would’ve liked it more.

If you like paranormal thrillers or just plain strange murder mysteries, I’d recommend to give this one a shot. It’s not bad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea either.

 

 

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