Title: The Shining Girls
Author: Lauren Buekes
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Source: Borrowed from my local library
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn’t Exist
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.
I’m just going to get this out of the way: I liked Lauren Buekes’ Broken Monsters better. I can’t quite put my finger on why, although the supernatural creep factor was higher in that book than in this one. But it may also have something to do with the utter lack of closure ending in this novel. No, that’s not true- there’s half closure. But it wasn’t enough for me. I don’t like a bowtied ending, but I do want to know if my favorite character lives or dies.
OK, that aside, this is typical Buekes creepy serial killer fare. Harper is demented, following a Bootstrap Paradox (more on that later) that feeds his need to be vicious. The time travel is never explained, but then, time travel can’t really have a logical basis, right? Suffice to say, it’s a device to make Harper creepier and more ominous. The victims are thrown in and discarded, which was also frustrating- I’m fine with multiple-perspective narratives, but when you dangle tantalizingly unique or sassy female characters, only to kill them three pages later, I start getting wary about being attached. And so although Kirby is a great character, I never got attached. Dan? Dan I loved.
So yeah, you can understand my frustration with the ending.
Also, full disclosure: there are some squicky scenes with visceral, violent imagery that actually made me nauseas at one point. The shifting time frames made it less suspenseful, until the final showdown, and Harper was almost unbelievably evil. Don’t ask me why a supernatural psycho is more believable to me than a psychopath who travels through time eviscerating women who “shine bright”. It just is.
All that aside, it’s well written, creepy, and unique. I recommend it for fans of thriller with a bit of scifi, and those who appreciate when an author has done historical research (this story jumps around the 20s, 30, 40s, 60s, 70s, and 90s).
And now, to explain the Bootstrap Paradox…..The Doctor:
(as an audiobook, it was well narrated by what sounded like a huge cast- excellent production quality and very unique voices for each character, so A in that regard)
I’m a coffee-fueled, hobby-addicted bibliophage who makes cruelty-free mineral eye shadows (inspired by novels). I’m usually in front of a screen (writing, reading, or gaming), but I’ve been known to emerge for geekery, good food, and dark chocolate.