Reviews of speculative fiction, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.
This has been a good year for me for free books. Prior to 2014, the total number of free books I'd won on the internet was one. Ever. This year I've gotten three. This one is even one of those goodreads first reads things that I've been entering forever.
The Shining Girls is the only other of Beukes' catalog I am familiar with (though I keep looking at those graphic novels), and that I kind of loved. Broken Monsters I think was quite good, especially the last 150 pages, but magical realism thriller is not quite as on target for me as a reader as the whole time-travel serial killer hunted by girl reporter was.
Part of the trouble, I think, is expectations. Chapter one revolves around the mutilated corpse of a child and ends with the line:
They did not remotely contain it.
Which is 100% true . . . eventually. Alas, it's almost page 200 before a second body drops and further still before shit goes off the rails. On the one hand, I don't know if I could have coped with 435 pages of the seriously fucked up insanity that is the latter part of this book. Seriously, 50 pages from the end, I had to leave the house, put distance between myself and this object, for a few hours. On the other, 200 pages before a second body drops, what the hell?
I could have done with a lot less Jonno in the first half. I got that character in two pages and didn't need the extensive characterization filling out his POV chapters. Those could have all been less than three pages of targeted info and I'd have been a lot more in love with this. We all know this guy. Aren't we all done with this guy yet?
Yeah, something tells me the 360 page version of this novel is something I'd have loved without reservation.
Mostly because of Layla. Oh. My. God. I could have read a whole book about just that girl with no fantasy elements at all. I'm surprised my little sister isn't thanked in the acknowledgements because this is exactly the kind of bad ass she was at that age. Layla is what I want and rarely get from every ass-kicking UF heroine.
Also, I'm really glad I read this now because it is very now. I don't know what the social media landscape will look like in 5 years, but its possible this will become dated quickly. Such is the danger of any contemporary fantasy, right?
This book is awesome.
I don't know that it's redefining genre or whatever the marketing is on about, but this is sufficiently creepy and horrific to keep me entertained.