Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

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.

‘That’s why it’s so important that the Watchers remain. In a world remade again and again, where the rules keep changing, where a Chosen One becomes Chosen Many, where magic disappears, where the old ways are broken, we are the one constant.
We still keep watch.’

There are a lot of novels that I’m deeply looking forward to this year but Slayer was definitely one of the top ones and giving it anything less than five stars is actually quite difficult to do. I honestly thought that this was going to be one of my top books of the year – not only is it new Buffy but it’s also by Kiersten White, after all – but for me something was missing, as much as it pains me to say so.

Starting with the positive however, I can quite easily and honestly say that this book managed to capture the overall feel and humour of Buffy quite spectacularly. If there was anything that worried me about this novel, it was that it wouldn’t have that ‘Buffy feel’ to it, but somehow it did. Right from the start it emulated the feel of the show with its mention of prophecies and the rather snide remarks about demons and their love of Latin.

‘Of all the awful things demons do, keeping Latin alive when it deserves to be a dead language might be the worst.’

That right there is a quote that wouldn’t feel out of place being spoken by one of members of the ‘Scooby Gang’ and similar comments with that same Buffy feel followed throughout. There were also ties to the show and mentions of past events to further help paint the picture of the universe that this novel is set within. Reading this novel it seemed fairly obvious to me that the author must have loved the show greatly and I’m glad that she was chosen to write it. I honestly can’t believe how spot on the tone of some of the dialogue was.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people seemed to have an issue with Artemis’s hatred of Buffy, but considering what her family had been through I found it perfectly understandable. She lost her father, and the organisation that she grew up in, to Buffy in some ways so her feelings seemed spot on to me. What I did find, towards the end, was that her feelings switched to the positive a little too quickly. I understand how being a Slayer herself would change things but it just seemed too instantaneous for me. Although, that being said, the scene where that happened was incredibly touching for me and quite splendidly written. I just loved the heart to heart that she had with Buffy and can’t believe how wonderfully the author managed to capture such an iconic character’s personality. That scene with Buffy really made me melt inside; I just wish that there had been a bit more of a build up of her feelings softening towards her before then.

I loved reading the points of view of the Hunter that were dotted throughout the novel and can quite honestly say that I didn’t see the reveal of who she was coming. These, again, I thought were splendidly written and I was always eager to see what the next scene from their point of view would bring.

There were several characters that I quite liked although a few others that I wasn’t really a fan of. One of the things that I loved was that Artemis was a Slayer who wanted to heal things, not hurt them; I really felt that it bought a different perspective to things. I found her friend Cillian quite interesting too, as well as several of her other companions. Her relationship with her mother and sister were also both interesting to learn about. I did feel that Athena turned against her a bit too quickly at times however.

As I said earlier there was something missing for me in this novel however, although I really am struggling to put my finger on exactly what it was. I think part of it was that at times I thought there was a little bit too much conversation happening between Artemis and the demons that she encountered during this novel. Yes I liked that she wanted to heal others, not harm them in general but I felt that some of the demons that she encountered surely wouldn’t have just happily discussed things with her; more of them would have tried to fight. I know that in Buffy she was always making witty remarks with demons but that was usually whilst she was kicking their arse. I also feel like maybe the overall tone of the novel was a little too light and younger than I was expecting. Although it caught the feel of Buffy really well, particularly the humour, I felt that it needed a bit more grit.

Overall if it was any other novel I’d probably have given it three stars, not four, as something just didn’t click for me. If it was a little darker and more grown up then maybe it would have been perfect – as I think that’s what felt off to me – but as it stood I found the story fairly interesting but the overall effect somewhat average. Slayer got an extra star for how superbly it captured most of the Buffy feel however, as well as for the Hunter scenes which were a pleasure to read and the beautiful heart to heart with Buffy. I’m still looking forward to reading the next novel, I just really hope it clicks better for me as I love Buffy and some of Kiersten White’s other work so much.

Check Slayer out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or in this case also BTVS) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


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