Michael Grothaus: Beautiful Shining People

Today I’m joining the blog tour for Beautiful Shining People. My review is written with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and to Orenda Books for my copy of the book.


This world is anything but ordinary, and it’s about to change forever…

It’s our world, but decades into the future…

An ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be…

Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny café on a cold Tokyo night. A café run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia…

But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano.

A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…


Beautiful Shining People isn’t a book I should like. I don’t usually read science fiction and computers and technology are subjects that invariably float over my head. Yet somehow, I did like this book very much. It’s set perhaps 20-30 years from now and with technology advancing at the rate that it is, and with artificial intelligence developing all the time, it was easy to imagine a world where the robots we meet in the novel might not be fiction and this really helped me to become immersed in the story. 

Beautiful Shining People is set in Japan, and although I’ve never been to Japan, I loved how Grothaus’ descriptions, both of the physical surroundings and the lifestyle, were able to take me there straight away and visualise so clearly what was happening. 

The protagonists of Beautiful People are John and Neotnia. John is the narrator, and I felt this gave me a brilliant opportunity to get to know him well. I warmed to him easily and sympathised with him as he battled his insecurities and navigated his relationship with Neotnia. I loved this relationship and enjoyed watching it grow as the story gathered pace. 

The ending of Beautiful Shining People did not pan out how I expected, but as it became much more tense, I did find myself on the edge of my seat. I wanted to find out what would happen next and found it difficult to tear myself away.

Beautiful Shining People is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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