Inaugural Audio with “Broken Monsters”

20706269Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Mulholland Book: September 16, 2014 (Mystery; Thriller)

My rating: The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed vintagesuitcase3

I’ve recently changed jobs, and as a result I have about an hour long commute to work. Naturally, I was quite put out that this cut into my reading time, so I hesitantly checked out my first audiobook. I’ve never had any desire to listen to an audiobook, but listening to music got old real quick in my car. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Broken Monsters and since the audio version was a new arrival, I decided that this would be my very first audio experience. I’m not sure that this was a good choice, since I didn’t actually finish listening to the book…

Broken Monsters starts off like a generic, hard-boiled crime thriller. There’s a murder and a detective investigate. But it soon becomes clear that there is something off about this murder. For starters, the upper body of the murder victim, a little boy, is found fused together with the legs of a deer. It only gets stranger from there.

Intertwined with Detective Gabriella Versado’s investigation is several threads that eventually become connected to the overarching murder. There’s Detective Versado‘s daughter, Layla. There’s Jonno, a failed journalist trying to make a comeback in middle age. Then there’s T.K. a reformed alcoholic, who’s homeless, simply trying to keep himself afloat. Lastly, there’s the killer himself. The reader steps in each character’s mind, slowly piecing together how each of these characters fit together in the overarching plot. The crafting of Broken Monsters is superb; it’s intricate and subtle. From an intellectual stand point I can appreciate how well written Broken Monsters is. From a purely personal and emotional stand point, I simply didn’t like the book.

So what didn’t I like about it? Well, first and foremost, I don’t generally like thrillers. I gravitate towards character driven stories. But there’s a lot of characters in Broken Monsters, so what’s the problem? I wasn’t invested in any of these characters. Yes, the author did an excellent job at making these characters real. Layla’s thread, as an example, demonstrated and explored a lot of themes related to teen culture today. Intellectually, there was a lot to appreciate about each storyline. The prevalence of media in people’s lives, homelessness, art, creativity etc. These were all themes that were explored, but I never felt emotionally invested in any of the characters; hence, the lack of interest in continuing to listen to the book. So, if you’re looking a read that you want to engage with on an intellectual level, this is one I would recommend. On an emotional level, not so much.

Ultimately, I didn’t end up finishing listening to this one. I had three disks left and each day I got into the car, I always found a reason not to listen to the end. Not even the suspense of knowing whether or not the killer is apprehended was enough to make me finish. I did not care. This is what I get for trying something outside my comfort zone.

Lastly, I have to remark on the fact that I listened to this rather than read it. As I said, this was my first audiobook attempt (and I’m so disappointed!). Overall, I thought the narration was done fairly well. The only problem I had was the character who voiced Jonno. Was this guy ever annoying. He also impersonated a woman and I started giggling. It was not a funny moment. It was odd listening to someone read the book rather than have the words in front of me. It wasn’t a bad thing, but I did catch myself often wondering about how the book was formatted (i.e. where page breaks were, use of title characters rather than numbers).

While I’m not ready to give up on audiobooks just yet, I am disappointed by my first foray into the format. I’d love some recommendations! (Please, I’m desperate, I can’t listen to the same songs over and over and over again!)

Similar Reads

I’m copping out of making recommendations this time round. I didn’t like Broken Monsters enough to want to recommend further suggestions, and I’m quite sure that I don’t want to read anything similar in the future.

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