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BOOK REVIEW: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

| 7 September 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes 

Harper Collins
August 2014, $29.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




He’s lying on his side, his legs pulled up, eyes closed, face serene.

The Recovery Position.

Only he’s never going to recover, and those aren’t his legs…

Something happens when Lauren Beukes tells you a story. Something weird, supernatural, and somehow “other” happens to your mind, while your feet are still stuck to that real world pavement.

You meet the characters; you get an inkling about them, but honestly, you’re just trying to work out what’s going on. You think you know who the killer is, and then a couple of chapters later you know for sure, because you see them in the act, or cleaning up after the act… or preparing for another act. Lauren’s books are not about working out “Whodunit” but rather what brought them to doing it, and, well “howdunit”.

We get to meet her antagonists early on, and grow slowly more and more uneasy as they get driven to doing that horrible thing they do. Sometimes we feel sorry for them sometimes we hate them… Sometimes both.
Broken Monsters is anchored in the real world, with procedural police scenes, diverse characters and realistic, entertaining relationships.

The story focuses on Gabi Versado, a pretty, female, minority cop. A “threefer”.
But she’s not waiting. She yanks her shirt out of her pants and uses it to wipe her face.
‘Fuck’s fucking sake.’
‘You done?’ Boyd asks.
‘Swearing? No. I still got some left. Motherfuck.’

Her daughter, Layla:
‘Hey, Mom!’ she yelps, and Gabi turns – but she can’t do it. ‘I meant it,’ she says. ‘You should start dating.’
Gabi leans against the door. ‘I tell you how to run your love life, beanie?’
‘All the time!’ Layla protests.
‘That’s because you’re a minor. Have fun with Cassandra. Stay off the streets, okay?’

Layla’s friend, Cas:
‘Cas. I’m sorry I was a bag of dicks.’
‘Lay. I’m sorry you were a bag of dicks too.’ They’re grinning at each other. ‘And I’m sorry I was a bag of dicks.’
‘You were a truckload of dicks! A whole convoy of trucks loaded with dicks crossing into Canada.’
‘That’s a lot of dicks. Do you think you need a permit for that?’
‘I think Canada probably has an embargo on dicks.’
‘That’s why they’re so nice. No dicks allowed.’

Jonno, the asshole tryhard journalist that you can’t help but like, even when you want to slap him:
‘Is that wax in your mustache, or are you happy to see me?’ he says to a hipster with annoying facial hair. ‘No, don’t go. I have a serious question for you. Please. You ready? Are you personally responsible for the die-off of the bees?’
‘Because you must have plundered whole colonies of hives to keep you in mustache wax.’
‘Fuck you, man.’

And TK, the street smart, mostly homeless guy with a rough past who helps out at the homeless shelter:
‘How do you make something go viral? Go big, man. Dress your cat in costume. Or do something fucked-up like this.’



Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. But she’s never seen anything like this.

He is a broken man. The ambitions which once drove him are dead. Now he has new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.

Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city.

And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity.

A killer who wants to make you whole again…



Broken Monsters is a slow build. It opens on a murder scene, but after that we get to know the characters a little, get to see their thought processes as they try and work out who the killer is, or just go about their day. We get to watch as they wander ever closer to danger.

And when the group all comes together… That’s when the party REALLY starts.

For some, the build up will be a little slow, but I have come to love and to trust Lauren’s writing.

That said, Broken Monsters didn’t have me on the edge of my seat quite like The Shining Girls did, but I did stay up until three in the morning to make it through the last hundred pages, so I can’t fault her there.


Disturbing, intriguing, realistic, and entertaining. This was a good read and Lauren Beukes is on my auto buy list, but I’d recommend reading The Shining Girls first.



Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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