Book Club: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
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, in 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.
Having first discovered Lauren Beukes last year with The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters was a must have for me when it hit the shelves. Lauren Beukes manages to combine crime with some fantasy and sci-fi elements, creating a reading experience filled with weirdness. Just the kind of book I love!
Broken Monsters is set in modern day Detroit, Michigan, where Beukes manages to capture and reflect its desolation and decline. Even though I have never been in the US, let alone Detroit, it feels like I was there in full flesh. In addition to capturing this dark setting, Beukes accurately portrays some of the pros and cons of being online in today’s life through the experiences of a teenager and a struggling journalist.
The story of Broken Monsters is told using five very different characters, each with their own trials and tribulations. You are quickly introduced to the lead character and one of the major protagonists, Detective Gabriella Versado as she attempts to solve the gruesome crime while also struggling as a single mother to bond with her teenage daughter. Layla Versado – one of my favourite characters – is your typical teenager, constantly online trying to find her place in the world and at the encouragement of her friend Cas uses the internet to entrap potential paedophiles. In the course of the first quarter of the book you are also introduced to two other minor characters: Jonno and TK. Jonno is a struggling journalist who moved to Detroit from New York City. After finding his muse he starts an online journey by vlogging about the artistic underworld and quickly gains internet fame. TK is a homeless man who is trying to atone for his past. I did wonder how these characters would be integrated into the overall plot, but their importance and roles became more clear as the story developed. The final character introduced in the Broken Monsters world is The Detroit Monster himself. This allows a rare look into the ever crumbling psyche of the antagonist, an aspect of Beukes’ books I really enjoy.
What’s also great is the use of imagery and symbolism to further amplify the darkness and despair not only of Detroit, but the characters as well. I have to admit I’m still a bit uncertain as to the meaning of some of the elements mentioned. Without giving away too much, I’ve been struggling with the meaning behind the chalk doors and chairs. Maybe a second read through will shed some light on these.
Overall, I just loved Broken Monsters, both the cover – which is an awesome design by Joey Hi-Fi – as well as the story itself. Broken Monsters takes you into a darker world, where characters are either trying to survive or make a name for themselves. It is such an intriguing well written story that you wouldn’t want to put it down, even after you finished it. So what rating is The Mystery Corner giving Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters? A gruesome four, spread the darkness among your peers!
Have you read Broken Monsters? What are your thoughts?