Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters / Lauren Beukes

Sigh.

Can I already declare this as the biggest disappointment of my 2016 reading year?

This is one of the handful of books that I picked up because of booktube. I don’t remember from who I heard it from but when I heard that this was supposedly about a crime where a boy’s body was found attached to a deer’s… I could not pick it up fast enough. That’s why when I saw it on Book Outlet, I bought it even without a coupon or some kind of promo. I could not stop thinking about it. I bumped it up my hypothetical TBR list because… half-boy/half-deer, come on. That’s some dark Criminal Minds shit.

It wasn’t “bad”, don’t get me wrong. It had an interesting story. There were many colorful characters to follow with their own interesting storylines. Of course, these different people and stories were somewhat vaguely connected and I was interested how it was all going to pan out. It had short chapters and I love that in a book. I feel like I read through it faster even if I don’t really. In the end, I almost DNF’d this.

Here. I’ll let GoodReads give you a rundown:

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. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you’re Detective Versado’s geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you’re desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

Okay, let me break this down. That boy-deer was creepy, I admit. I can only imagine how that would look like and the shock upon seeing a scene like that. Criminal Minds, take notes. I like how Detective Versado kept her head together and how she worked the case. Layla, her daughter is your token teenager that somehow messes up everything she touches. Jonno is the stereotypical middle-life crisis journo man. He kept on mentioning a character named “Cate” and I got so excited. But we never saw her, yup spoiler. And TK… I don’t even know.

Everyone is a non-character. They’re just… there. You can take Layla’s whole bit out and you’d still have the same story. Same with TK’s storyline. They really serve no critical purpose. Although I did like Versado’s actions, she had zero emotions. Her co-workers were more interesting. Why? Because one is your token overly zealous rookie cop; you got to have that in every cop-related anything, right? And the rest are misogynistic pieces of shit. What’s funny is that this book has a dislike for “TV cops” but it has no shortage of the same cliche cops on TV.

I would have preferred fewer points of view. Maybe just with Det. Versado and the killer, who was by the way, super obvious from the get-go. That killed the intrigue. We really didn’t need all that BS with Layla and her more interesting, more mysterious best friend. It was so disconnected from the rest of the story that it could be another book itself. The short chapters worked against my enjoyment of this book. Some chapters were too short to build anything up. A lot of times, there was little to no coherence between chapters; they seem unrelated to the next. The flow is CHOPPY and has no momentum. I do recognize that different characters make cameos in chapters but the execution of that is so poor.

When it started to somewhat pick up in the end, I had hope. But it ended up being one huge WTF. I mean… whut? The whole thing came out of nowhere. It was as if someone spliced a magical realism draft in the end. I just did not get it. The events in the end made no sense. The build up was weak. The characters were extremely unlikable that I didn’t care if any of them died. The creep factor did its job of selling this book to me but the whole thing fell so damn flat. What a waste.

I’m hoping that this doesn’t send me into a reading slump. I have half the mind to unhaul this from my collection, and I already did that. Not sorry. This was such a chore to read.

Rating: A generous 2/5. By the way, Shutter is Thai, not Japanese. If you read this, you’d know what I’m talking about.

QUOTES:

“Everyone has three versions of themselves; a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” – Page 119 (hardcover)

“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 to be fabulous online.” – Page 171 (hardcover)

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6 thoughts on “Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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