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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

the shining girls

The Shining Girls is actually another book from the same “Best of 2013” list that I mentioned in my post on The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The description claimed that it had earned Gone Girl comparisons.

After reading the book, I don’t really see the likeness.

The Shining Girls is the story of a serial killer who (by means of a magical house) travels through time to commit the murders of “shining girls.” He creates a sort of pattern between them all where he approaches them early in their childhood. Then, later in life, he approaches them again, murders them in an extremely violent (I mean so violent it made my stomach turn) way, and leaves a memento. He murders them because he feels as though the house is telling him too.

To be blunt, it’s all a bit confusing. And I don’t know if I ever really go the answers I was wanting. Like, what exactly is a shining girl? Oh, it’s a girl that shines? Gotcha, cause that totally answers my question.

Anyway, the main plotline follows Kirby. Kirby is Harper’s last shining girl. She was supposed to be anyway. Then, when Harper tries to murder her, he fails. He doesn’t realize this though because she was so brutally stabbed and he assumes she can’t survive. When he tries to confirm that Kirby is dead, her mother intervenes at the hospital, after much stress in dealing with the press, and just yells that she’s dead to make him go away. She clearly does not realize he is the man that just slit her daughter’s throat.

With the mission of trying to capture her attempted murderer, Kirby takes an internship at the Chicago Sun Times with the hopes that she can use old articles and files to find any time of information that will help her. She teams up with Dan, the ex-homicide reporter/turned sports writer and they develop a bond. Dan tries to help Kirby as much as possible, but all the while remaining hesitant to get too close.

So basically, the story’s plot jumps around from narrative to narrative, between Kirby, Dan, Harper, and all the girls that he has murdered. Naturally, since Harper is able to travel through time, the timeline is pretty jumbled, ranging from the Depression era to the present day. You know, naturally.

Maybe the blame is on me again with this one. I only briefly glanced at what the book was about, thought it sounded like a good murder mystery, and started reading. I definitely missed the part about it being a “time travelling murder mystery” (I know, shame shame, I didn’t do my homework). Imagine my confusion when the book started with Harper’s perspective from the first time he met Kirby (just the recent past) and then all of a sudden, it was the 1920’s. But that still doesn’t change the fact that I felt as though a lot of things just weren’t explained.

So overall, for me this book was just OK. It most certainly held my attention, but mostly because I wanted answers to all of my burning questions. And I wanted Kirby to catch Harper (obviously). But in the end, after all of the books I’ve read in life, and the books I’ll continue to read, I’d say this one is pretty forgettable.

Did this book shine for you? Or did you find it to be a bit of a dud like I did?
Let me know!

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