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No, not the twins from the Kubrick movie, but the targets of a serial killer who finds a time portal in Chicago during the Depression and jackrabbits his way through recent American history, killing women and taking trophies Until, that is, he encounters a tuff girl who s not so easy to do away with It s the black hole version of The Time Traveler s Wife. It s not easy to sell people on the concept of The Shining Girls, because every time I try to describe the plot, I can t do it without making this sound like the dumbest possible idea for a book This is a story about a time traveling serial killer See It sounds so dumb and so bad And if you read it and came to the same conclusion, I would not blame you at all But, much like the cranked to eleven lunacy of The Girl on the Train, this book just worked for me In essence, this is a very, very It s not easy to sell people on the concept of The Shining Girls, because every time I try to describe the plot, I can t do it without making this sound like the dumbest possible idea for a book This is a story about a time traveling serial killer See It sounds so dumb and so bad And if you read it and came to the same conclusion, I would not blame you at all But, much like the cranked to eleven lunacy of The Girl on the Train, this book just worked for me In essence, this is a very, very dumb idea for a story that has been executed very, very well which is also how I describe Pacific Rim, a movie where humans build giant robots to fight giant aliens and it s actually one of the best movies I ve ever seen.Our killer is Harper Curtis, and while on the run from gangsters in 1930 s Chicago, he discovers that he can time travel Specifically, he finds a house that acts as a sort of portal to other time periods and only Harper Curtis has the key.The specifics and the logic of how and why Curtis decides to use this power to hunt and kill women across time does not matter the point is that he does, and one of his victims manages to survive Kirby Mazrachi is in college in 1989 when Harper Curtis attacks her and leaves her for dead She makes a physical recovery, but becomes obsessed with finding the man who tried to kill her To do this, she applies for an internship at the Chicago Sun Times with a sports writer who used to cover homicides, and enlists his help tracking down her attempted murderer The chapters move back and forth across time, showing us the various murders that Curtis commits while, in the present, Kirby attempts to find a pattern of unsolved murders that will lead her to the man who tried to kill her Curtis, we realize, does not kill at random Each of his victims is, in his mind, a girl who shines across time, enabling him to locate her It s not made totally clear what he means by shining but each woman is doing something revolutionary or noteworthy when Curtis cuts her life short this is the point in the review where I m very tempted to say that Kirby is in a race against time or something like that I ll let you know that I resisted that impulse, but not happily Look, I ll come right out and say that book is not for everyone The violence is detailed and gruesome, particularly the scene where Curtis first attacks Kirby and we see every horrible action The deaths and brutalization of women and animals alike are described, and it s exactly as upsetting as it should be Other reviewers have pointed out, and I agree, that all of Curtis s victims besides Kirby never get to be anything other than victims each is introduced to the reader and given a backstory just to make sure that we understand how upsetting and sad her death is, and that s all we see of them Also Kirby has a romance subplot that really didn t work for me, first because it was a distraction from the central plot, and also because I have a sneaking suspicion that Beukes included it to show us that Kirby is recovering from her trauma, as if the best way to fix a woman is to give her a man But May December romances have never been my particular thing, so maybe that s why it didn t work for me This is honestlyof a three star book, but I m giving it an extra star because Beukes made two very, very good choices in her storytelling and I have to give her credit for them First, she sets parameters for Curtis s time travel abilities he cannot travel further back in time than 1929, and this means that we don t have to go through some idiotic revelation that Curtis was actually Jack the Ripper or something or, considering the Chicago location, HH Holmes And the second very, very good thing Beukes does is a spoiler, so I m going to hide it view spoiler So Kirby is raised by a single mom, and doesn t know who her father is About halfway through the book, a terrible thought occurred to me oh Jesus, are we going to find out that Curtis had sex with Kirby s mother during one of his time travel jaunts, and he s Kirby s father and that s why they have this connection oh god no no no nooooo It would have been an awful twist, and Beukes could have easily gone that route, and thank god she didn t, because otherwise I would have had to explain to the nice people at the library that I couldn t return The Shining Girls because I had thrown it into a river hide spoiler There are some plot twists that are better left unwritten, and I m glad Beukes resisted the impulse to write that one One sentence review summary The Shining Girls is definitely an acquired taste, and I was just lucky that it happened to be mine Here s the thing about this book it is a mash up of many different genres, and while the execution was perfectly fine, I felt none of them were showcased in a way that was particularlyoutstanding A breakdown of some of the different elements this book tries to incorporate, along with a few thoughts on each Time travel the jumps in timeline in this book involve a weird house in Chicago in the 1930s It shows Harper Curtis all the girls he s yet to kill, and allows him to slip in and out of d Here s the thing about this book it is a mash up of many different genres, and while the execution was perfectly fine, I felt none of them were showcased in a way that was particularlyoutstanding A breakdown of some of the different elements this book tries to incorporate, along with a few thoughts on each Time travel the jumps in timeline in this book involve a weird house in Chicago in the 1930s It shows Harper Curtis all the girls he s yet to kill, and allows him to slip in and out of different periods to spy on, have brief cryptic interactions with, and eventually kill his victims That s basically as much explanation you ll get I didn t necessarily mind this at first, even though a littledetail might ve been nice I m not really sure why time travel was used in this book, however it added so little by way of the coolness interest factors that you could have taken out this plot device entirely and the book would have been pretty much the same animal The House s presence confuses me greatly is this supposed to be a this place ll drive you crazy thing, a la The Shining Serial killer Those girls shine to Harper, oh, they do But why Although I appreciate that this isn t a panting, pervy book, we re not given enough reasons why these girls shine to him Serial killers, especially ones patient enough to wait so long before acting on their desires, are often methodical creatures of habit whose insatiable impulses do have rhyme and reason at least to the killers What s triggering Harper Something is, and yet I never felt like I understood what made one girl call out to him over another And when so much of the book takes place from his POV, it s a problem if you don t understand him to some degree.There are a few moments that bordered on the uncomfortable, but this story doesn t really commit fully to exploring or even showing us the twisted psychology of a man fixated on stalking little girls from their childhood Yeah, there are scenes that may shock you if you don t read watch a lot of thrillers, but it s all pretty dispassionately displayed Like THERE, now there are entrails on the floor see those Harper pulled those out Now he s going to move on, and you should, too.Horror Thriller Tension This book could have usedof it.Historical detail I suppose there must have been historical markers for the different time periods, but I can tell you that a few weeks after finishing it, I don t remember a single one.Victim POV human interest This is the part that s supposed to make you sympathetic and provide a human element to this story Kirby, one of the girls he preyed upon, made it out alive She s investigating her would be killer in the year 1989, and the even accepting the freedom and tools she has to do it, it all pretty much amounts to nothing view spoiler because the killer comes to find her hide spoiler She doesn t really move the story forward in a dynamic way, she s pretty much just there for us to feel sorry for her I will say there was one victim POV that did make me feel pity for her but it s the only scene in the book that I remember made me feel any real emotion.Romance This relationship felt utterly predictable, pointless, and lacking in any genuine connection I m not even going to spend any time talking about it because it felt so sketched out.Overall, I just feel like I ve read bits and pieces of this book before in various different forms, and they ve all previously been executed withfocus and originality and thought and research Despite my laundry list of things I felt could have been further explored, it was an interesting read unfortunately, I just didn t love it the way so many of my friends have Have I just read too many gruesome serial killer books to be that impressed by this Maybe so Or maybe mash ups of so many different genres leave too little room for any one of them to be as thoroughly developed as I d hoped for An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.PS This one was just optioned for a television series, which is probably a smart choice over film It s getting a lot of buzz as this year s Gone Girl as well, so expect to see this one on a lot of shelves This book is weird The climax features a one sided snowball fight And it s about a time traveling serial killer It s weird It s also not very good The Shining Girls is a book of parts, and some parts work, some parts don t Each chapter focuses on a person and a time Harper, the time traveling serial killer, spends most of his chapters in the Great Depression Era, plotting escapades to the future to kill shining girls The other main character is Kirby, a shining girl from the early 90s This book is weird The climax features a one sided snowball fight And it s about a time traveling serial killer It s weird It s also not very good The Shining Girls is a book of parts, and some parts work, some parts don t Each chapter focuses on a person and a time Harper, the time traveling serial killer, spends most of his chapters in the Great Depression Era, plotting escapades to the future to kill shining girls The other main character is Kirby, a shining girl from the early 90s who survives Harper s homicide attempt She partners with Dan a loveable Chicago Sun Times reporter who was my favorite character to catch her killer If a chapter title read Kirby 24 June 1992, I would read with gusto If a chapter title read Harper 18 January 1932, I d groan and settle in for an unenjoyable chapter It s problematic when you don t want to read any of the antagonist s boring, tedious, and repetitive chapters since they amount tothan half the book.I picked this book up after hearing the phrase time traveling serial killer But Lauren Beukes doesn t sufficiently develop either of these ideas The time travel seems like a gimmick Harper finds a House with a Room full of objects and names of shining girls he will kill decades in the future He can walk out of this House into a different time to hunt these women I don t really understand the House or the rules of time traveling here Harper often loops his own narrative, hopping from a later time to an earlier time with seemingly no consequences Structurally, the time traveling is difficult to follow As I said, each chapter is headed with the character s name and the date, but when I m reading fast and the chapters are short, I lose track of when I am in the text The intricacies of Harper s sojourns back and forth through Chicago were lost on me And since we jump from past to future, events are spoiled long before they ever happen Beukes could have used this foreknowledge to create great dramatic irony and tension, but the way she used it only lessened my appreciation of the narrative I knew what was going to happen, but I wasn t pushed to fear what was going to happen A linear narrative would not have worked for this story, but if this makes any sense I would have appreciated alinear non linear story As a serial killer story, it fails as well Why do I read murder novels To attempt to understand a killer s motivations To admire the tenacity of a victim Or to empathize with the devastation of a victim To figure out whodunit Yet all of that was absent here For the excess of Harper chapters I suffered through, I still don t understand him as a person Unlike many popular serial killers, Harper is neither charming nor horrifying he merely kills Kirby is a likeable protagonist, but her motivation to find her killer is the most striking aspect of her character Not much else defines her And while this story is a mystery to Kirby, it is never a mystery to the reader who knows the killer and his secrets from the first page One thing that impressed me about The Shining Girls was Beukes s research Chicago is an important part of this novel The time and characters may change, but Chicago remains constant The research is impeccably detailed and thus, Chicago breathes with life But as I ve noticed with other historical novels, especially those set in bright American metropolises during sumptuous eras, the author can become indulgent with the depth of her research There s too much here It s too referential Often it feels like a famous Chicago landmark is alluded to merely because the author had seen it in her research And despite all the research, I m surprised by the way the dates are written in the chapter headings Perhaps it s an editorial error, but the dates are written in the date month year format e.g., 1 July 1989 even though this book is the American edition and it is set entirely in America Even in the non American editions, it would beauthentic to use our admittedly backward month date year format Thematically, The Shining Girls shines a little brighter Harper s pursuit of shining girls is a good metaphor for the way a patriarchal society punishes girls with promise, wanting to push them back to their proper place And the idea of a House that dictates who Harper will kill years into the future well represents the idea of a true psychopath Once Harper finds the House, he appears to have no control over himself Harper was meant to kill, is meant to kill, will always be meant to kill He is a killer in every iteration of time and space.I ve written a lot about a book I didn t really like If you want Chicago and history and murders, read The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson instead 1 it happened in real life 2 it has Ferris Wheels Of course I have pet peeves, don t we all I am bone weary tired of books being promoted as the next Gone Girl or worse still.just like The Secret History So just to set the record straight this is nothing like Gone Girl and the only relation I can see to Stieg Larsson s books is that there is a female survivor, who is not prepared to lay down Then again a great many books have kick ass female survivors The problem with this need to categorize some books as being similar to this or that is t Of course I have pet peeves, don t we all I am bone weary tired of books being promoted as the next Gone Girl or worse still.just like The Secret History So just to set the record straight this is nothing like Gone Girl and the only relation I can see to Stieg Larsson s books is that there is a female survivor, who is not prepared to lay down Then again a great many books have kick ass female survivors The problem with this need to categorize some books as being similar to this or that is that all too often the book suffers in comparison This is no exception What we have here is a time travelling serial killer Very cool concept no doubt I was just underwhelmed if you will with the execution.So suspend belief and come along Our dirt bag killer, Harper Curtis has found a house in depression era Chicago that is like a portal to both past and future years, thereby allowing our killer to step out the door and into the past or some future Chicago landscape Inside the house Harper finds objects that seem to cause a compulsion or perhaps a memory of past compulsions within him, which in turn leads him out the door and into another period of time where he finds one of his victims at an early age, allowing Harper to leave one of these objects with her until such time as he can come back and retrieve it and her Kirby is one of Harper s victims Problem is she didn t die but survived the horrific attack and is determined to find the brute responsible She is courageous, with a quick and sarcastic tongue that she uses deftly to keep irritants at bay Haunted by her past, Kirby is stuck in time, unable to move forward until she can mark paid to her past This girl needs closure The magic house with its time portal and time travelling artifact like objects is never really explained It is what it is, thereby allowing the reader to fill in the blanks And then there are the rest of Harper s victims and there are many We meet them at various stages of their life, but a glimpse at best, is all that we are awarded And so it is that we meet insert name here Harper has met her as well and so we know she is destined to die a graphically brutal death As terrible as it sounds I had a hard time connecting with any of these so called shining girls as the author never really painted their canvass for me I mean come on if I am going to plunge into the lake then I want to see its murky depths, get pulled in by the undertow, feel the water sluicing off my skin Instead there I was on the time travelling, serial killers bus as he moved from stop to stop, kill to kill, leaving objects, taking objects, hurtling through time, but I cannot say that I ever really cared about his victims, which in turn meant that I was pretty much just biding my time and waiting for the ride to be over Kirby of course was the exception which sadly to me conjured this all too omniscient sense of what was to come A truly unique concept that I can only wish had been explored a little further, fleshed out , carved into my empathetic being enough to make me careabout its characters So yeah three all hype, no heft, but pretty cover, kind of stars The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, first published in 2013, is fascinating, almost hypnotic, for many reasons, but emphatically because its style and subject matter makes it an odd fit for clearly defined genres Combining elements of horror, murder mystery, thriller, crime, and time travel fantasy this book finds itself on a unique bookshelf and Beukes demonstrates her rare gift of imagination and technical ability Using a shifting perspective, jumping chronological narrative technique that w The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, first published in 2013, is fascinating, almost hypnotic, for many reasons, but emphatically because its style and subject matter makes it an odd fit for clearly defined genres Combining elements of horror, murder mystery, thriller, crime, and time travel fantasy this book finds itself on a unique bookshelf and Beukes demonstrates her rare gift of imagination and technical ability Using a shifting perspective, jumping chronological narrative technique that works brilliantly with the time travel elements of the story, Beukes prose is tight and fast paced Her characterizations are also spot on, complex and humanistic with a very likeable strong female protagonist and a wholly deplorable antagonist Especially good are her sketches of the victims, Beukes crafts them into three dimensional, real, blood and soul people Good enough for Stephen King or Richard Matheson, behind it all is a deliciously mysterious haunted house No mistake, this is a novel about a time traveling serial killer and the necessary contextual violence will be too much for some readers, but it also appears that this South African author is a baseball fan, so I liked it evenA very good read Ele o assassino perfeito Impar vel Imposs vel de identificar Pensa ele CHICAGO,Harper Curtis,um vagabundo paranoico e violento, d de caras com uma casa que possui um segredo t o chocante como a natureza distorcida de Curtis permite o acesso a outras pocas Ele usa a para perseguir as suas raparigas cintilantes e tirar lhes o brilho de uma vez por todasICAGO,Diz se que o que n o nos mata nos faz mais fortes Experimente diz lo a Kirby Mazrachi, cuja vida ficou devastada depois de sofrer uma brutal tentativa de assass nio Continua a tentar encontrar o agressor, tendo como nico aliado Dan, um ex rep rter de crime que cobrira o seu caso anos antes medida que prossegue a sua investiga o, Kirby descobre as outras raparigas, as que n o sobreviveram Os ind cios apontam para algo imposs vel Mas para algu m que devia estar morto, imposs vel n o quer dizer que n o aconteceu A killer travels through time picking his victims and leaving mementos behind.I thought I d venture outside of my comfort zone with The Shining Girls and I certainly managed that It was far too gory and violent for me.The trouble is that almost half of the story is told from the killer s point of view The reader gets a front row seat at the crimes, usually immediately after a series of passages describing the girl so that an emotional connection is formed with the victim.I was on a run listeni A killer travels through time picking his victims and leaving mementos behind.I thought I d venture outside of my comfort zone with The Shining Girls and I certainly managed that It was far too gory and violent for me.The trouble is that almost half of the story is told from the killer s point of view The reader gets a front row seat at the crimes, usually immediately after a series of passages describing the girl so that an emotional connection is formed with the victim.I was on a run listening to the audiobook now, let me be honest I was on a mildly taxing walk listening to the audiobook and I had to turn it off when he attacked Kirby It was simply too much with all of the horror, violence and the bit with the animal too.Perhaps if I had been reading a physical book, I could have skimmed the awful bits But even then, I think it would be safe to say that this was not the book for me.I was really excited when Beukes introduced the reader to the newsroom of the Chicago newspaper Her description of the reporter s cubes all stacked up on one another with the sports and feature writers off to the side was eerily accurate to where I work.I also enjoyed the interactions between Dan and Kirby those two were snappy and fun.Overall though, the gore of the story was too much for me Only recommended for readers who can handle that type of thing 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 th 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 basedon 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 Quick caveat to apologising for not reading or reviewing so much any I m an English Lit student and it s pretty much killed reading for pleasure for me But along came The Shining Girls , and Karen s review compares it to Gone Girl , one of my favourites and the big buzz book of summer 2012 and I need to get on this shit.Then I read it.And I don t know what s wrong with me, but it s as simple as this I don t understand the hype.Looking at the blurb, I do The premise is both devilishly Quick caveat to apologising for not reading or reviewing so much any I m an English Lit student and it s pretty much killed reading for pleasure for me But along came The Shining Girls , and Karen s review compares it to Gone Girl , one of my favourites and the big buzz book of summer 2012 and I need to get on this shit.Then I read it.And I don t know what s wrong with me, but it s as simple as this I don t understand the hype.Looking at the blurb, I do The premise is both devilishly simple and rich with possibility The marketing is excellent the blurb is fascinating, the comparisons apt.What a shame about the book.Okay, that may be a little harsh But understand that this review comes from a place of deep disappointment and confusion.The Shining Girls is bland I never thought I would type that word when I looked at the gorgeous cover, the spooky blurb or listened to the crazy hype I thought I could be disappointed or disgusted possibly, but I never thought I d be solost For a novel that seems so genre based, it lacks distinctly in any kind of plot For a novel that strives to be both genre based and literary, it meanders through cheap exploitation and genre cliche.Harper, a drifter from the 1920s, kills women who shine through history Why are they chosen No idea Possibly because they could make things different for women throughout history, and they try to help women This is fascinating to me Beukes s ladies are all awesome women helping each other, who are my favourite kind of people, especially book people But they all seem ratherlow rent examples of this principle, or maybe Beukes was afraid of stimulating some of thetricky areas of fantasy sci fi especially to the uninitiated reader, as The Shining Girls is very mass appeal which is not a bad thing at all , like alternate history These women were radical, but I wondered if they were really the best examples of proto feminism that Beukes could dig up, especially as Harper is motivated to do most of this by a magic house Kirby, for instance, does nothing of any great interest or significance, mostly piecing together parts of history that the reader already knows or quickly finds out Since this has all happened already in the past, Kirby has very little effect on any of it.For those reasons, the time travel speculative element of The Shining Girls is pretty much a wash Beukes does nothing interesting or remotely surprising with it It has no noticeable effect on the plot Harper wanders between time periods with their occasional this is the 1970s 1990s 1930s markers in the same way that a serial killer from a standard crime fiction novel might move between cities Her attempts to combine the speculative element with the crime fiction element are admirable is the house evil, or does Harper make it evil how much control does Harper have over which women to choose and possess interesting potential, but the answer to these questions is mostly to some degree no definitive answers Beukes tries to be ambiguous but ends up vague and abstract All that is solid melts into air.This is mostly achieved by Beukes s workmanlike writing and the total lack of character depth Harper is a bogeyman, utterly defined by the horrible things he does and lacking anything of a character beyond it Kirby is slightly better, another feisty but damaged protagonist, albeit one with something a littleinteresting about her, though her so called romance is dreadful There s no insight that will surprise anyone even passingly familiar with crime fiction I ve always wantedfemale characters in crime with depth, too, so I was initially hopeful that this book might buck the trend with genuinely vivid female characters in the other time periods.No They die Over and over and over and my eyes glazed over by the end of it Every other chapter of The Shining Girls reminded me of the standard crime prologue, where a woman is introduced, given a shred of depth in a few paragraphs, then brutally killed to set the tone for the Bad Guy Over and over and over These horrendous segments earned this book the one star rating It wasn t the horrible violence that I opposed Beukes is less graphic in places than many other writers though, seriously,pretty and promising twenty something women being killed These felt manipulative, cheap and repulsive Of course they moved me at points Can you read a chapter about a strong woman being brutally murdered and begging to see her children again because she s too young to die and not be moved I doubt it, though I did feel beaten into apathy by it all when the ridiculous climax rolled around At least there s only a couple of this in most books.I m sorry, guys Read Karen s review instead She loved it and she gave it an excellent review I was so bitter by this dry, miserable book that I found myself genuinely wondering if any of the people who ve buzzed about it have actually read it