Happy Halloween to everyone! It’s time for our spooky recent reads reviews. Now I have to admit, Halloween and its creepy traditions have never been my favorite. To this day I can’t watch scary movies or I’ll be sleeping with my head under the covers for a week straight. Ask Emma. We once attended a scary movie together with our boyfriends at the Vic’s Brew and View, and I jumped so hard that I showered us all in popcorn. I also don’t do haunted houses, just forget it. However, I decided I’d do my best this year to get into the Halloween spirit. I thought switching up my reading with a dark, suspenseful thriller set in my hometown of Detroit should do the trick.
Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes kept me hooked the whole way through. The story follows the investigation of the murder of eleven-year-old Daveyton, your typical kid. However, his murder is anything but typical, which is clear to the Detroit homicide detectives as soon as he’s found.
The novel unfolds through the eyes of several characters. Just to name a few there’s Gabi, the single mom/tired detective; her teenaged daughter, Layla, who’s worried about the school play and her love life; TK, a homeless man trying to help those in a city that never helped him; and Jonno, a self-absorbed, out-of-work journalist.
The characters are remarkably different, but they share a matter-of-factness about what the city has handed them.
I was skeptical if Beukes would be able to capture (for lack of a better word) the essence of Detroit, but she did her research. She made two separate trips to the Motor City, interviewing and interacting with many people from different communities and subcultures. With their permission, she borrowed anecdotes and chunks of true stories, which takes her novel to the raw, nitty-grittiness of Detroit. She spoke with the underfunded, overworked police force and people who have lived on the city streets for years and highlighted the young artists and hipsters who are determined to bring the city back, one abandoned house art show at a time.
Beukes continuously captured my attention with her portrayal of events and the characters’ visceral reactions to what they experienced. “Layla has never been big on screaming. As a kid, she used to lie dead still, trying to keep her breathing slow as not to tip off the monster under the bed. Blood thuds in her ears. Her mouth tastes like iron.”
I would recommend this novel to anyone, especially to those who (like me) don’t usually gravitate toward disturbing murder stories. The book explored human nature and how you have to find a way to carry on no matter what you’re dealt. I’ll leave you with a snippet of how Lauren Beukes described the broken monsters in her book. “We’re all broken monsters. We all have little broken pieces inside. We’ve all experienced bad things in our lives, on a scale, of course, but it’s how we live with them that determines who we are.”
I decided to read Prey by Michael Crichton because I liked the cover. I was running late for work and it was sitting on Ben’s bookshelf. I’d seen it there since we moved in last year, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until that fateful day. I should say that I tend to make most of my decisions based off of cover art, be it books, wine, or overly priced baked goods from Whole Foods. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it does not. Luckily, after the first chapter of Prey I was completely hooked.
Prey tells the story of Jack Forman, an unemployed techie living in Silicon Valley and playing the role of stay at home dad while his business savvy wife works as the VP of a nanorobotics company. Forman becomes suspicious of his wife’s behavior when she begins working longer hours and is quick to anger. He initially suspects an affair, but learns that the truth is something much spookier. Over the course of the book Jack is pulled into the frightening world of nanotechnology gone very wrong and is forced to find a way to survive.
Prey is enticing, frightening, and addictive. As the plot is ridden with spoilers, I won’t go into any further detail in this review. It is best to see the mystery unfold as I did: over a twenty four hour power reading immersion. Prey is the perfect read for a cold, rainy evening but be warned — you may not be able to put it down!
For our next Recent Reads post we’ll be covering Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Grab a copy this November and join us as we discover what Gilbert has to offer about the creative process.