Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Science-Fiction

Publishing Info: April 2013 by Harper (first published 2012)

Pages: 391

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…
A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.

1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.

Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…

The premise of The Shining Girls excited me when I first read the blurb: a time travelling serial killer? Sounds interesting. Perhaps I set my expectations too high. It was a bit of a let-down for me, and not as good as I was hoping. I felt the author could have done so much more with this interesting, creepy idea.

The structure didn’t do anything for me. It switches back and forth with lots of different points of view in lots of different time frames which left me feeling rather confused. Most elements of mystery/suspense were taken out by the fact that we know the ‘answer’ to the mystery Kirby is trying to solve because the first person point of view of the serial killer is included. I didn’t feel motivated to keep reading and wasn’t intrigued like I like to feel when reading mystery/thriller. It was just lacking in tension and suspense.

The characters could have been developed more. They felt quite flat, their personalities not really showing through, particularly in the main characters.

It was quite repetitive, with lots of time given to each of the murders Harper committed. The only thing I liked about this part was that the author gave some details about each of the victims that made them like real people rather than just unfortunate victims.

The ending was a bit abrupt and I personally would liked to have seen more resolution. The little epilogue at the end was quite clever though and brought the end in a loop back to the beginning.

This concept had so much potential but I just wasn’t a fan of the way it was executed and found myself checking frequently how much longer it was before I finished it. Ironically, it lacked shine, it lacked the spark of something special to me.

Film Review: The Scorch Trials

Release date: 11th September 2015

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson

Runtime: 131 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second film in the Maze Runner series, based on the book by James Dashner. It is very different to the book, diverting from the plot quite substantially, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing anyway.

The film carries on moments after the first film finished as Thomas and the survivors from the Glade are rescued from WCKD by a mysterious alternative group. After discovering a truth about their rescuers the Gladers escape from the compound they have been taken to into the Scorch – outside where the world is like a desert and Cranks (basically zombies, at least in the film anyway) try to attack them. Their aim is to reach the Right Arm (a rebellion group in the mountains).

Once I got over the fact that it was very different to the book I read (something which is probably a good thing to accept when going to see any film based on a book to avoid disappointment) I enjoyed it and found it very exciting and gripping. The Cranks were done extremely well and were absolutely terrifying, and would have been even more scary if I hadn’t been anticipating it from having read the book! All of the CGI/special effects stuff was very good.

The acting was good, considering what the actors had to work with – in the book the characters aren’t fleshed out that well.

Although it didn’t bother me too much that the plot was quite different to the book, the end section didn’t make much sense and ended in a completely different way to the book, meaning I’m not sure what they’re going to do in the last film.

It was a good film, but I preferred the first one, which isn’t that surprising as I preferred the first book to the second book. If you haven’t read the book then it’s an exciting film, and if you liked the first one you’d like the second one. Though I would avoid it if you’re getting tired of YA dystopia film adaptions…