Published by Simon and Schuster on January 8th 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
He’s bobbing his head in time to music playing from headphones, and there’s a book in his hands. I peer at it.
Nicholas Sparks. Doug really might be evil, then.
So, huh, here’s the thing: I don’t think I actually expected this to be good.
Yeah, yeah, I posted excited Buffy gifs, and I tweeted Kiersten White like the crazed fangirl I am. But this is Buffy you’re messing with here. Buffy truly helped me survive at some of the darkest times of my life. I’ve watched it over and over and over again. I’ve met the cast members. I am someone who likes many things, but how many things can I say I’m really a fan of? Um, like, one or two.
This book was a huge deal for me, and I expected that it just couldn’t possibly ever sit comfortably up alongside my beloved Buffy. But I have to say it: Kiersten White did a really great job.
I think Slayer is definitely a book for those already pretty well-versed in the Slayer/Hellmouth mythos. It is virtually impossible to explain so many years (and seasons) of backstory without info-dumping throughout the whole book… so White mostly opts to keep it vague, but at the risk of making zero sense to newcomers to the Slayerverse.
I should also
mention that this is set after certain events in the comic
continuation, too. I wasn’t sure I liked this at first because I’ve
always been a little reluctant to view the comics as canon (they’re fun
fanfic to me, but that’s all). Still, somehow, I think it works well
“We know it’s a demon.”
“Right, but it’s wearing a fecking Coldplay shirt. How evil can something wearing a Coldplay shirt be?”
White is clearly a hardcore Buffy fan because she absolutely nailed the quirky humour. I snorted out loud (very attractively) multiple times while reading. The characters are adorable, and the author has taken some steps towards correcting the overall lack of diversity in Buffy. Cillian is British-Nigerian, and gay, dating smart and nerdy Rhys. The two of them bring so much warmth and laughter to this book. Artemis and Honora also have a very sexy, tension-filled relationship (I almost wish Artemis had been narrating!).
The actual narrator and newly-appointed Slayer is Artemis’s timid sister Athena, or “Nina”. Long lurking in her strong sister’s shadow, everyone is pretty shocked when Nina is the one chosen. Now hellhounds are appearing left and right, and Nina’s worried her mother might be up to something demonic. Occasionally, the narrative is broken up by a mysterious “hunter” perspective, too.
not all silliness, though. As true Buffy fans know, lurking under the
campy jokes are darker themes about choices and belonging. As Nina comes
to realize “Being chosen is easy. Making choices will break your
heart.” And speaking of hearts breaking:
“The choice was to save the world– or to save you. And I chose you.”
With classic BtVS elements like family drama, moral struggles, pop culture references, and demons aplenty, this is a really enjoyable story. Never has the end of the world been as fun as it is in the Slayerverse. Of course, the ending is suitably dramatic, and concludes with a spectacular reveal that has me dying for the sequel. Romance is suggested for the future, but isn’t a huge part of this book.
A really pleasant surprise. Now off to binge-watch Buffy. Again.