Tag Archives: Time Travel

Review: The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls
By Lauren Beukes
(Mulholland Books, Hardcover, 9780316216852, June 2013, 384pp.)

The Short of It:

A time-traveling serial killer is not someone you want to mess with.

The Rest of It:

It’s 1974 and Kirby is outside playing with a bumblebee. A stranger with a limp approaches her and after tearing the wings off the bee with his bare hands, gives her a toy to remember him by. The toy, a small plastic horse, is something that the girl instantly takes a liking to, but this isn’t a toy she can find just anywhere because it’s from the future. Harper Curtis, time traveler, serial killer and all around creep, finds girls that “shine” and then murders them in cold blood.

The catch? He doesn’t do it when they are young, no…he comes back for them later, when they are old enough to feel the life pouring out of them. His attacks are gruesome and involve dismemberment and evisceration. Kirby is a lucky girl because she survives his first attack, but now grown-up and working as a journalist, her mission is to find the killer. Little does she know how difficult it will be to track a killer through time.

My feelings are all over the place with this one!

I’ve read books where Jack the Ripper goes back and forth through time and this book was sort of like those but without the period setting. This was more of a contemporary take and it had some high points but it had many low points as well.

I liked Kirby. She was spunky without being annoying. Her inquisitive nature and her interactions with her colleague, Dan…were often endearing and sweet. I felt that the author could have gone a little deeper with her character but overall, she was pretty well-written.

On the other hand, Harper was a bit of a disappointment. Here you have this serial killer who has the potential to be a real bad-ass but instead, he’s this wimpy, gimpy guy zipping back and forth through time. He’s not particularly interesting and his killing isn’t all that creative. I mean, if I am going to read about a serial killer I want there to be a little variety. His attacks are gory and bloody but I never really felt his “need”. He talks of the shine, that he needs it to live, but it didn’t come across as being all-consuming, you know? And the shine and what it is, isn’t fully explained. Did these girls have riveting personalities? Did they exude too much confidence? Was there something about their aura that literally made them shine in Harper’s eyes? Not sure.

Overall, I wasn’t all that impressed with the book. I think it could have been a lot stronger had there been a little bit more about Harper. More back story, less gore. Psychologically, it was lacking.

Source: Borrowed
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Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
By Charles Yu
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307739452, June 2011, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Time travel is an entertaining subject in and of itself, but at its core, this book is a collection of moments. Moments of realization, moments of disappointment and moments of loss and regret.

The Rest of It:

Charles is a time machine repairman on Minor Universe 31. Technically, he is like the auto club for time machines. When a machine fails, he travels across time to fix it. But, these “repairs” are often needed because people go back in time to change the past, and that’s something that should never be done. He runs into all types of people, with his robotic dog by his side, but he’s got problems of his own. In a moment of rash judgment, he shoots his future self. Now, THAT’s a problem. To further complicate things, he comes across a book he’s written, a survival guide for living in a science fictional universe. But at the point of discovery, he’s already gone against much of what it recommends.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe was wonderful but in a totally weird, quirky way. Parts of it were absolutely touching and sweet and parts of were complete mind benders.

It’s really a book about so many things. The relationship between Charles and his family is achingly sad. Charles yearns for so much more, and he doesn’t really understand where things went wrong, so he re-lives moments over and over again in order to gain an understanding. It’s a book about self-discovery, about love and loss but it’s also very funny. There are lots of funny moments to chuckle over.

Fans of science fiction will certainly enjoy this one, but readers who enjoy “what if” scenarios will enjoy this one too. I found myself working stuff out in my head (sort of like what I did when I watched Back to the Future III and thought, wth??)

This was a fun, completely different book. The story was very unique and thoughtful. I’m so glad I read it.

Side Note: I was looking up information on the author and came across this article. Turns out that Yu is a director for the Oscar-winning Digital Domain, a visual effects company. This article also includes Yu’s top ten time travel books. Very interesting.

Source: Borrowed.

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