Title: Beautiful Shining People
Author: Michael Grothaus
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction
First published: March 16th 2023
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 15th 2023
Pages: 276

“Because when people stop being haunted by the past, they start repeating it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Orenda Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


I confess that this is not really the story I would normally go for… I’m not really that big of a futuristic sci-fi fan, but I’ve had the work of Michael Grothaus recommended to me more than once and I decided to just jump in and think about the consequences later. The Japan setting was an added bonus, because it’s not a destination I get to visit often in my books… And I’m definitely glad that I decided to give Beautiful Shining People a go now. It’s such an unique and captivating story!

The Japanese setting was definitely one of the highlights for me. The descriptions of this futuristic Japan are simply heavenly, and they truly brought this new-but-old world come alive for me. There are so many references to Japanese culture and customs, while also taking in account that Beautiful Shining People takes place decades in the future. The descriptions of the futuristic angle are fascinating, with a focus on AI, robots and life in the future in general. While I’m not usually that into robots and AI, I really enjoyed how it was incorporated into the story here.

I do have to say that it took me a little while to get a proper feel for this story. The beginning was just a little too quirky for me, and I wasn’t sure what to make of the story initially. Once I got a proper feel for what was going on, things did improve drastically, and especially the second half of the story hit the mark for me. I started to love this story more and more as time passed, and those final chapters are on fire. There were definitely a couple of twists I never saw coming, and while certain parts of the plot were a tad slow and a little too descriptive, as a whole I liked how everything was mapped out.

One of the reasons this story works so well has everything to do with its main characters. We see the world through the eyes of seventeen-year-old John, who is an American tech genius flown to Japan to sign a deal that will change his life. While in parts he did come over as a bit immature, it’s is easy to like his flawed character and development. The key lies with the fact that the cast is basically a bunch of misfits thrown together, and the unlikely bond with the sumo Goeido and waitress Neotnia really take the story to the next level. All characters have a hidden dept and secrets, and I enjoyed seeing them develop over time. The dog Inu is such a cute addition, and I loved what he added to the plot as well.

As a whole, it is nearly impossible to place Beautiful Shining People in a nice little genre box. Sure, it is futuristic sci-fi with a focus on AI and robots. Sure, it is definitely speculative fiction as well. But it is also romance with both some steam and an almost doomed/forbidden vibe… And maybe even a touch of family drama and mystery thrown in to spice things up. In short, it is a fantastic mash-up of different genres and elements, and a story you won’t soon forget with a cast of characters that will win over your heart long before that final page.

You can also find me at Goodreads. StoryGraph. Twitter. Instagram. Bloglovin’.