Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada (Simon Pulse) for granting me review copies for this via both NetGalley AND Edelweiss.
I really, really, REALLY wanted to love this book. I was a huge fan of the TV series, and I even dabbled in the comics a bit. While I haven’t read a lot of Kiersten White’s stuff, I do follow her on Twitter and find that she is a delightful person. That said, Slayer just missed the mark for me.
NB: You really should read Season 8 of the comics to fully understand the happenings and references in Slayer. Especially if you were a fan of the show. Also, this is not a great option for newcomers to the Buffyverse as not much background information is given.
What I loved
Kiersten White is no stranger to writing amazing women, and Nina is no exception. She is complex and conflicted between her healing nature and her calling as a monster killer. She has always lived in her twin sister’s shadow and she reads like a teenager without being the typical angsty teenager seen so often in media.
Being a fan of the show, some of the dialogue and character interactions fell short for me. Joss Whedon is not the be-all and end-all, and some of his work is actually pretty problematic, but knowing his style makes adapting to another’s somewhat tricky.
The pacing of Slayer is good, and there wasn’t anything that made me think the story was lagging. There is a fair bit of action, and some great expansion on the Buffyverse.
There is one definitely gay (secondary) character, and one hinted-at lesbian, but most of the cast reads as straight and white.
There is very little romance in Slayer, which is actually kind of refreshing for a YA novel.
What I didn’t
I get why Nina dislikes Buffy. I really do. But that point was very repeat-shit-itis through the whole book, and it annoyed me a lot.
The “big” twist ending was boring and predictable for me. Though some of the other twists along the way were not.
I thought Slayer was meant to be an independent entry into the Buffyverse, with ties to the original series but no previous knowledge needed. Instead it is heavily reliant on the lore of the comics – which some Buffy nerds didn’t even read – and is too connected to be independent, but too independent to be truly connected.
Overall I do think that Kiersten White did an okay job with Slayer, but something about it really didn’t click for me. YMMV
- Paranormal rape (this is hard to describe, but it is NOT physical, though it involves a succubus and a sleeping person, and is clearly sexual)
- Apocalypse scenarios
- Mild-moderate gore
- Character death