Thursday, January 24, 2019

Slayer by Kiersten White

Slayer by Kiersten White
Release Date - January 8, 2019
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  404 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.
It would be an understatement to say I was excited when the details of Slayer were announced. A story set in the Buffy universe and featuring an all new slayer? It instantly became a must read for me. I was even happier to discover that it not only hit that nostalgic sweet spot but offered up an intriguing story with an equally intriguing heroine.

The nostalgia elements are going to be the initial draw to this book. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are going to seek this out simply because of the brand recognition. Those fans, luckily, will not be disappointed. The thrill of recognizing a reference made the experience of reading this incredibly fun. The familiar last names, beloved characters we get to see again, mentions of plot points that pull at our hearts. It creates an instant connection to the world that feels effortless. The nods to the source material never felt heavy handed or squeezed into the story. It felt organic and used sparingly. Those who have not read the comics that continued the series should be aware that the events of those comics are cannon to the universe and therefore part of the backstory to this novel. I do, however, think that you can jump into this without having read those comics and not feel like you're missing anything. This book does a fantastic job of filling in the backstory just enough so that the story works. Those who have never seen Buffy could even just right in (but it would be shame because they would miss out on so many amazing references).

Those worried that this wouldn't work without the Buffy connection will be relieved to know that it has a plot that could easily stand on its own. It is a story that uses the tropes of its genre to great impact and has all of the heart, humour, and snark that you could want. Nina's story really is a coming of age one ... it just also happens to involve monsters.

Kiersten White knows the Buffy universe. She knows how the world her character's inhabit works. Her writing has the fantastic one liners that the show is known for. It has the humour and wit that made Buffy herself so appealing. Nina isn't a carbon copy of Buffy but she has a sense of humour all  her own and the writing itself has the essence of the show all over it. As a fan of the television show reading this felt like reconnecting with old friends. It was comforting in a way that anything that invokes nostalgia is and that is because it captures what made Buffy so captivating.

Nina is a girl who never wanted to be a slayer. She, in fact, is more drawn to helping and healing. She wants nothing more than to continue her education as a medic. Fate, however, pushes her down a different path. Her journey of discovering what being a slayer means on her own terms is an empowering one. That message of female empowerment that Buffy is known for is carried on within these pages. Nina's self doubt and missteps while finding her way will be all to recognizable to anyone who went through, or is going through, the processing of growing up. Her impulses to heal and protect as well as the inner call to action and violence makes Nina a very interesting slayer and one I am excited to follow on her journey.

This story has a very 'Watcher' slant to the narrative. Nina is at the Watcher's Academy. Her family is part of the Council. We see everything through the lens of this group. It paints Slayers in a different light than what I had previously considered. Part of that journey was confronting how their actions, Buffy's in particular, would seem to this group. I was always Team Buffy when it came to whatever was happening with the Watchers but this provided something to think about. It didn't change my opinion (for a variety of reasons) but you can see, particularly through Nina, how things might look and why she would see it a certain way.

There is a romance within these pages and the less I say about it the better. It, however, has the potential to be just as heartbreaking, captivating, and romantic as the one between Buffy and Angel. It has so much potential that I am hoping this story arc continues in the subsequent books that will come in this series.

A new Slayer's journey begins and I could not be happier to be back in this world. Kiersten White's managed to create something that both scoobies and newbies alike will devour. I'll be eagerly anticipating when I can return to this story a

1 comment:

  1. Amazing review! I'm so excited to read this book, even though I'm a little bit scared to be honest. I loved Buffy so my expectations are very high.


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