Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Broken Monsters

Title: Broken Monsters
Author: Lauren Beukes
Pages: 436
ISBN: 9781415202005
Publisher: Umuzi
Published: 2014
Genre: Thriller / Genre-bending
Source: Copy won in competition


Buy it from:
The Book Depository (US edition)
The Book Depository (UK edition)
Kalahari.com (SA edition)

IN A BROKEN CITY, A DISTURBED KILLER IS TRYING TO REMAKE THE WORLD IN HIS IMAGE.

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 together. And it’s only the first.

As winter closes in on Detroit, strange and disturbing corpses start turning up in unusual places, pulling several lives into the killer’s orbit.

Gabi has to juggle the most harrowing case of her career with being a single mom to her troubled teen daughter Layla.

Layla, egged on by her best friend Cas, is playing a dangerous game with an online predator.

Broken Monsters is a dark and gripping thriller about the death of the American Dream, online fame, creativity, compromise and the undercurrents of the world we live in right now.

I finished reading Broken Monsters at a quarter to midnight and it resulted in my first ever book induced insomnia. I tossed and turned till 3am before I finally managed to fall asleep. Although Broken Monsters has enough macabre visuals to creep anyone out (especially those with vivid imaginations) it wasn’t due to nightmares. I just couldn’t let the story go. What does it mean? Why? How? There were so many things to dissect, to contemplate and to try to comprehend. Broken Monsters broke my brain in the best possible way.

I dreamed about a boy with springs for feet so he could jump high. 
So high I couldn't catch him.
But I did catch him. But then he wouldn't get up again.
I tried so hard. I got him new feet. I made him something beautiful.
More beautiful than you could imagine.
But he wouldn't get up. And the door wouldn't open.

In its most basic form Broken Monsters can be seen as a supernatural thriller with a dash of horror and a dollop of police procedural thrown in. It’s a captivating read that draws you into the manhunt for a serial killer with a penchant for mutilating and publicly exhibiting his victims. A perfectly enjoyable, if seemingly unremarkable read. But Broken Monsters offers so much more if you delve beyond the surface layers to expose the complexity within. The pages are filled with metaphors, and deals with a myriad of issues like creativity, originality, the pervasive and persistent nature of social media, the search for fame, cyber bullying, sexual abuse... Issues we all face in our daily lives in one form or another.

Unlike The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters plays out in modern times. The Internet and social media play an integral role in the story. Pop culture references, YouTube comments, Tweets and Reddit threads are used to great effect in helping the story unfold in a realistic way. Beukes’ observations on life in the Internet age are extremely apt. I found myself nodding in agreement more often than not.
“Everyone lives three versions of themselves, a public life, a private life and a secret life.” (page 130)

“Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings for the fabulous online” (page 181)

“On the internet humiliation lives forever” (page 263)
The cast of characters are engaging and well-crafted, each broken in their own unique way. The story revolves around the cynical Detective Gabi Versado and her teenage daughter Layla, but there’s also TK, a homeless man trying to atone for his past; Jonno, a journalist who is desperate to make a name for himself and the Detroit Monster, a killer unlike any other. You can't help but empathise with the characters; even the killer is deserving of pity, if not compassion.  Initially it’s difficult to see how these disparate storylines would come together, but Beukes manages to deftly weave them into a breathtaking, surreal finale that both satisfies and dumbfounds.

What makes Broken Monsters unique is how the supernatural seeps into the world of the real. How the empty, abandoned spaces of Detroit play host to something otherworldy that crosses the boundaries of the real and unreal. A dream made flesh crafting flesh into dreams. It’s difficult to explain without going into spoilers. I might have said too much already... You’ll just have to experience this one for yourself.

The Verdict:
Broken Monsters is a dark, insomnia inducing thriller that will have you dwelling on its meaning for days afterward. Interwoven in the narrative is a complex and thought-provoking look at life in the internet age and how social media impacts our humanity. All of this is portrayed in Beukes’ distinctive genre-defying style. This is set to become one of those divisive novels; some people will love it, others will loathe it.

I loved it and I’m still dazed by the entire experience. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 8 (Great!)

It also gets 1000 bonus points for including:


And for those who've already read it:
What is up with the thing with the chairs? That still boggles my mind.

Giveaway: The Riddle in Stone Saga

To celebrate the release of the final novel in the Riddle in Stone Saga, Blood in Snow, Diversion Books are giving away an ebook bundle of all three titles in the series.


BLOOD IN SNOW
ISBN: 9781626813571
Order a copy

The final installment in the epic Riddle in Stone saga.

Having committed treason by claiming the Highlands for his own kingdom, Edmund—the one-eyed, stuttering former librarian—decides to stop running and make his final stand. Along with his best friend, Pond Scum, and his manic dog, Becky, he must fight off goblins, magic users, and King Lionel's entire army in order to protect what he loves. However, his deadliest adversary is the approaching winter, and neither Edmund nor his men have the supplies they need to survive.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
By day, Robert Evert is an ordinary university professor bent on stamping out ignorance and apathy wherever they may rear their ugly heads. By night, and during various faculty meetings, he is an aspiring fantasy writer. Living in northeast Ohio with his wife, two sons, dog, four cats, and a host of imaginary friends, Robert enjoys teaching, yoga, hiking, and writing. You may learn more about Robert Evert at http://robertevert.blogspot.com/ where he discusses being a neurotic writer. Riddle in Stone is his first novel.

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The competition is open until the 22nd of June. All you have to do to win the ebook bundle in a format of your choice is to enter below. Giveaway is open internationally and you'll get additional entries for each step you complete. Tick tock.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Extra Special New Arrival

Normally I wouldn't do a new arrival post for a single book, but this is so squee-worthy it demands a post of its very own. Way back in June I entered a competition to win a signed copy of Lauren Beukes' new novel Broken Monsters. To my huge surprise I won. The downside was that the book wasn't actually a physical object at that stage so I had to wait patiently for the release date in July to come around.

On Friday I finally received a nondescript package that caused much celebratory dancing and squees of delight. I'm not afraid to admit it. (Although I think I might've traumatised my dog somewhat.)

And Broken Monsters is even more gorgeous than I expected. I loved the cover when I first saw the cover reveal, but images really doesn't do it justice. I can get lost just staring at the cover. There are so many small details hidden away; it's truly a feast for the eyes.


But the best thing, the very best thing is that it's signed and personalised. She even spelled my name right!  Since I'd never be able to make it to any of the launch events this just makes it extra special.


A huge thanks to everyone at Random House Struik who made this possible. I really appreciate it!

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