The Shining Girls: Murders Not Bound by Time

I find sometimes that novels that involve a lot of time shifts can get messy and confusing to read. I recognize this is very much a personal preference. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, for example, was critically lauded; but I found that the aspects of the novel that were highly praised such as the constant change of narrators, time shifts and the structure of the novel made the book feel very forced. Every time we had a different narrator in a different time period, I was drawn away from the action and felt like I needed to force my interest in the book.

Reading The Shining Girls, however, was a completely different experience for me. The plot revolves around a man who lives in Depression Era Chicago who finds a key to a doorway which allows him to travel through time. The catch is that he must kill ‘Shining Girls’, girls bright with untapped potential, and stalk them throughout different eras to retain his access. The protagonist of the story is one of his would-be victims — a survivor who discovers the truth, and decides to turn the tables and fight back.

One of the best aspects of The Shining Girls to me is that Lauren Beukes never tries to explain how the time-travel doorway works. It’s extraneous to the plot and would merely bog down the action with unnecessary and most likely messy science-fiction. All the action is instead focused on the main plot – which is meaty and well worth the read.

Every time the novel introduced a new ‘Shining Girl’, a girl who would grow up to be a woman with purpose and drive to change opportunities for women by subverting gender roles or helping other women-at-risk, I as a reader couldn’t help but be attached and engaged with these new characters, and found their deaths to be much more moving for the remarkable way they were written.

The main character herself, Kirby, is fantastic. She is funny, sexy, interesting in the ways that a good protagonist should be which is something that sounds like it should be obvious for a female protagonist but I find is often lacking (Anita Blake, I’m looking at you). She isn’t over the top perfect, she has flaws, and feels very real — but she still has that strength that makes you want to root for her and the drive to seek out this serial killer who had been so determined to end her life. In a nutshell, she really shines.

This book is dark. This book is gruesome. But it also has incredible pull and is a great read if you’re able to get over the macabre killing scenes — which, dear reader, if you’re here I’m sure you don’t mind a little darkness spilled across your pages!

The Shining Girls is available on Audible for you audio book listeners, as well as Amazon in both paperback and kindle. The kindle is priced at 2.39 which is a bargain for this book!

If you like science-fiction, please give this novel a try. An amazing read well worth that great kindle price. If you do read it, please let me know how you felt about this book. I want to know if you think that the novel needed more explanation regarding how time-travel worked? Did the premise work for you? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


Your Final Girl.

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