Book Review: Slayer

Slayer
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 1.5 stars
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.

I want to start out by saying writing this review pains me. I have been a Buffy fan since it premiered (yes, I’m that old) and have been a stalwart fan throughout the decades. When I heard there was going to be a book within the Slayerverse that had a new slayer (*cue dramatic music* who is also the last slayer EVER), I may have freaked out just a little bit. I had a friend grab me a copy of the ARC at NYCC and then buddy read it with a fellow Buffy fan. And that’s where all the fun stops.

Slayer promised to be a new voice in the Slayerverse, one that could be understood without any previous knowledge of Buffy the Vampire Slayer history (movie, TV Show, and comics). Nothing could be further from the truth. The author tried to bring the delightful campiness of the TV show to the book and it just felt forced and off putting (the only joke with a good pay off was the Coldplay joke). Now, some of this could be a personal thing for me because I have recently found that “campy” books are just not for me (*looks forlornly at Kill the Farm Boy and The Princess Bride*). There was no reason to try and bring that same camp though. Let this new slayer and her group be unique. I wanted a new slayer story, not a poor facsimile of the Scoobies.

Then there is the proclamation that you could understand this book without previous Slayerverse knowledge. And while that mostly holds true, I guess, you have to wade through pages of clunky info dumping. I actually gave up trying to figure it out from the book and went online to find a recap of the season 8 and 9 comic books. Which bugs me because that means two things: I completely spoiled myself for a comic series that I wanted to read AND a recapper online did a better job than the author of this book.

I’m going to save my discussion of the main character, Nina, until later because it will involve spoilers and I’m sectioning off the spoilers below. As for the rest of the characters, I can’t think of a single one I really liked. Except maybe Doug, and that is a stretch. Artemis was a terrible sister, the mother was awful (and her arc was predictable), the love interest was boring, and all the side characters were one dimensional. I couldn’t find it in me to care about a single one of them. Because of the poor character writing, the plot was predictable and not very interesting. I kept hoping it get pulled in by something, but it never happened. There was loads of potential (no pun intended), but it all fell flat to me.

And don’t even get me started on the ending.

Now for the one tiny part I loved and the BIG THING I hated, but first, a friendly spoiler warning. It’s not really a huge spoiler but just in case…

Okay, Nina. Our main character, the one on which my hopes and dreams floated. She hated Buffy. And didn’t just hate; she absolutely loathed Buffy and thought about it constantly (meaning we had to read about it all the damn time). Yes, she had a pretty good reason: Nina is the daughter of Merrick, Buffy’s first watcher, that died while working with Buffy. That was the one thing I really liked in this book. I LOVED that call back to the original movie. But Nina’s never-ending Buffy hate grated on me to the point where I ended up hating Nina just as much as she hated Buffy. Look, I get that Buffy isn’t perfect, but who the heck thought a steady stream of Buffy hate was good for a Slayerverse book, one that would be read by people who grew up loving Buffy? And because predictable plot is predictable, Nina ends up understanding Buffy and why she did the things she did. Ugggggghhhhhhh…

/end spoilers

At the end of the day, this book was a huge let down. The Hufflepuff in me wants to say maybe it was just me, maybe I’m the problem, but I don’t think that’d be 100% true. Yes, I hyped this book a lot in my head and yes, this book had some big 90s platform shoes to fill, but at the end of the day I really think the writing let this story down.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pretend I never had to write this negative review about a book I wanted to love by continuing my Buffy rewatch (I’m on Season 3 and Faith is about to make her grand entrance).

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Slayer

  1. I had a hard time wading through the info dumping in the first 100 pages or so, but after that I really fell in love with it. Kiersten White has a hard time writing within well-established worlds I think. Her original characters can shine, if she can pull them out of the muck of exposition.

  2. I can’t find it in me to disagree with anything you said. Especially in regards to forced humor and the Buffy-hate. Joss Whedon is just a master and should not be imitated. Find your own humor and run with it! And yes, for devoted fans of Buffy being asked to start off hating her (with exposition) is asking a bit much. 🙁 Super sad. I actually really like Kiersten White as an author. I’ll just stick to her *other* books.

  3. Oh no way fooking way am I on board with Buffy hate!!! WHAT? I MEAN WHAT?

    Yes Merrick’s daughter would hate Buffy but Buffy is why I’d buy this in the first place and I don’t care how flawed she was, bitch is the queen!!

    This review is most helpful. I couldn’t be dealing with the info dump and I just will not read a book set in the Slayerverse where the main character spends the book hating on Buffy. I’m due a rewatch, I’ll just do that instead!

    • yeah, the Buffy hate was really bad. At first I was like “Okay, she has a legitimate reason to be pissed.” but it felt like every couple pages she was complaining about Buffy and how terrible she was and that just drove me crazy. *sigh* I am super bummed about it but at least we have Buffy to rewatch forever!

  4. Oh, no a 1.5 star rating! We are probably around the same age, because I watched Buffy from the very start too. I was so looking forward to reading Slayer and devouring it this weekend. Maybe I should just do a Buffy marathon instead. *cries into hands*

    • Yeah, I was massively bummed. I will say that other people liked it. I’ve talked to some people who gave it 4+ stars…it just did NOT work for me unfortunately. I’ve definitely been doing a rewatch of Buffy to wash the taste of this book from my soul

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