The Shining Girls
By Lauren Beukes
Summary: The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn’t Exist
The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.
Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.
Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.
At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.
Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .
The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.
Source: I purchased a hardcover.
The Shining Girls was a strange mixture of crime thriller and time travel. Harper, a killer, found a house that led him to other periods of time in the same city of Chicago. He was urged by himself and the house to search for the shining girls and snuff them out. Kirby, one of his victims, survived her attack, grew up, and worked as an intern for a newspaper. She had an obsession with piecing together her case and figuring out who attacked her.
Part of me feels like the book was lacking and it left me feeling strangely empty despite being long enough to have given me more than I felt it gave me. Another part of me feels like the book was perfect and very well done. It was strange, mysterious, quirky, and thought provoking. The shining girls seemed to be random girls that somehow sparked an interest in Harper, but they were kind of linked in that each of them were ahead of their times, important to a cause, passionate about something, and truly shined as women in fields that did not necessarily invite women. But it’s not a super obvious connection, nor is the book focused on that aspect.
Kirby was a quirky and likable heroine with a strange fashion sense and a dark sense of humor. I enjoyed watching her banter with Dan, the sports writer she interned under at the newspaper. She didn’t let her circumstances turn her into a broken version of herself, so she threw out spots of humor in subjects others wanted to tip toe around. She didn’t want to be a statistic, nor did she want to see pity in the eyes of everyone around her.
Harper was an interesting character and I liked watching him go through the different time periods and find his victims, though I don’t feel like I got into his head enough to figure out what truly motivated him. Despite getting his parts, I don’t feel like the novel ventured into who he was as a person, which would’ve been interesting.
The Shining Girls would make a fantastic movie. I would aboslutely love to see the concept on screen because I think the jumps through time would be a lot neater if we could see it all unfold instead of having to keep track of the headers to discover what POV and what time period it was.
I would also recommend it for a book club book, though not for the faint of heart as it was a tad violent and dark. But the fact that the women were all ahead of their time and the way the House targeted and allowed entry with a “ticket” are all interesting points that could definitely be explored further if readers have the opportunity to discuss all of that. It was definitely thought provoking and strangely haunting. The end left me unsatisfied, but I wonder now if that wasn’t the whole point. I think I read another book of hers that left me feeling the same way at the end, so I think maybe that’s the goal.