My sister got me this book for Xmas, and I was quite intrigued by the blurb and finally had a chance to dig into it. I was intrigued by the premise, a murdered boy is found in the ruins of what is modern-day Detroit, his lower half is missing, however, and has been replaced the back legs and body of a fawn.
So begins a massive hunt for a serial killer, a hunt that has a vast array of characters, all being drawn to the same inescapable climax.
The story is incredibly well-written, and I love how Beukes creates and animates her characters, and the things they are experiencing. There’s the lead cop on the investigation, Gabi, a single mother, who is doing her best, but her daughter, Layla, along with her troubled friend, Cas, have problems of their own, taking on an online pedophile.
There’s Jonno and his girlfriend Jen, a local deejay, who helps Jonno turn into an online web reporter, and at the center of it all is Clayton Broom, and the thing inside him, pushing him to create, to open doors, to show the world, and spread the vision.
For a good three-quarters of the book, I was rather divided on what Beukes was doing with the unknown presence inside Broom, referred to as The Dream (these aren’t huge spoilers, this all happens fairly early in the tale). Without this tilt into sci-fi fantasy, the books reads like an engrossing thriller, and like with the best of books, I could see everything in my head. When the elements of The Dream pop up in the story, my brain lowers the standard of the book to B-movie sci-fi, which is too bad, because Clayton as artist/serial killer (without the influence of The Dream) is a much more frightening idea to me.
That being said, once the climax was underway, and I saw what Beukes was doing by having The Dream be the driving force behind Broom, it elevated itself from B-movie, to high sci-fi, playing with ideas of belief creating reality, and how everything today can be seen.
The story moves organically, and doesn’t feel contrived or orchestrated to have everyone arrive at the scene of the climax at the same moment, instead it feels like Beukes writes the way life happens, unconnected events that shape and define us. That being said, the climax is fantastic, and some of the imagery is definitely going to stay with me, especially as, like I said, this is a book that I saw in my head the whole time I read it.
So pick this one, have a look at it, it’s definitely a brilliantly written and crafted ride, and has more importantly, introduced my to a new author I’m looking forward to reading more from, and going back to track down her previous novels, Shining Girls, Zoo City and Moxyland.
Have you read any of her books yet?