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.
Author: Kiersten White
Warning: This contains mild spoilers for the book.
My first reaction when finding out there was going to be a book set in the Buffy universe was this:
I loved Buffy when I was a kid. I thank my parents for allowing a child of my age, practically a baby, to watch this show. And Angel. And Charmed. I was all over those shows growing up. It’s one of the things that heavily influenced my love of all things paranormal. It’s also probably the thing that turned me into the huge wimp I am today because there is nothing more terrifying than watching a demon sucking the life out of children when you’re four-years-old. So, thank you, mum and dad. You probably shouldn’t have but I’m glad you did.
When I saw an ARC of this was available to request on NetGalley, I didn’t hesitate to request it – and it was my very first request, so that has made this book even more special for me. Was I expecting to be accepted? Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would. But, somehow, I was??? I’m so grateful to both Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Slayer in exchange for an honest review.
When Buffy destroyed the Seed of Wonder, she removed all connections to magic from the world – and almost tore the world in half by doing so. However, just before the Seed of Wonder was destroyed, one Potential suddenly made the switch from Potential to Slayer. It was not until a hellhound mysteriously attacked a couple of months later that Athena, also known as Nina, discovered a power she did not suspect she would ever possess – the power of a Slayer. Nina was supposed to be a Watcher, not a Slayer. Surely, it was a mistake? How was it that she – Nina – was the Slayer and not her twin sister, Artemis, the fierce protector of the grand castle they lived in alongside the remaining members of the Watcher Council, whose numbers were severely depleted. Nina, who was forever in her sister’s shadow and living with the knowledge that she had never been anyone’s first choice, soon found herself Chosen.
Sounds pretty exciting, right? It was. This book felt like a Buffy episode. White was able to capture the humour, the cheesy late 90s/early 2000s dialogue, and the ultimate theme that was at the heart of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was clear that there was nothing but love from White for the entire world of Buffy.
‘We know it’s a demon.’
‘Right, but it’s wearing a fecking Coldplay shirt. How evil can something wearing a Coldplay shirt be?’
The humour in this book almost killed me. No, seriously, it did. I almost choked on my drink at one point.
This new book set in the Buffy universe comes with a set of brand new characters. The characters in Slayer were (mostly) delightful, quirky, fierce, and twisted. I thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of Nina, who had been sheltered for most of her life and who went from being this timid and delicate little thing, constantly living in the shadow of her brilliant twin sister, to rising up and finally realising her own self-worth and capabilities. I adore character-driven stories and so I absolutely live for the type of character growth that Nina displays.
There’s also Rhys and Cillian, an m/m relationship rep, who are absolute balls of sunshine. It was hard not to fall in love with those characters. Rhys being a studious Watcher-in-training, who adores research and is a walking and talking encyclopedia of all things that go bump in the night. Cillian, who is the son of a British-Nigerian mother and an Irish father, and is a snarky, hilarious, and brilliant addition to a brand new cast of characters. I honestly would be pretty happy about a whole book about them. And, while we’re talking about reps, there is also Artemis and Honora, who would literally go right next to the definition of sexual tension.
‘Wait – did I pick a worse crush than Buffy?’
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I didn’t love it, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. Far from it, actually. It’s a solid 3.5 stars from me! I know ratings can sometimes put people off a book, especially if that rating is under a 4, there seems to be this idea that they’re simply mediocre, but let’s not forget that a 3.5 rating is still really good. What let the book down for me, and the main reason I cannot give it more than 3.5 stars, is the plot and the writing.
The overall plot was predictable. The main villain of the book was predictable. The whole thing was just… predictable. There’s not a lot to say about it. It suffers from being the first book in a series. It’s designed to set up the foundations and puts forward a plot that is simple and easy to follow in order to allow those unfamiliar with the source material to dive in without too much confusion. I am expecting a bit more from the next book.
While I found the writing style to be simple and easy enough to follow, several times throughout reading this I found myself feeling as though I were reading a piece of fan fiction. Very good fan fiction. But fan fiction nonetheless. I just didn’t feel the same as I do when I read other books. Do you know the kind of feeling I mean? That being said, while the writing was not something I particularly enjoyed, you may love it.
Have you read Slayer? Is it something that you want to read? Let me know in the comments below!