Book Talk: Slayer by Kiersten White

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Slayer by Kiersten WhiteSlayer by Kiersten White
Series: Slayer #1
Published by Simon Pulse on January 8, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a brand-new series set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that introduces a new Slayer as she grapples with the responsibility of managing her incredible powers that she’s just beginning to understand.

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.

TBH I’m not the hugest fan of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Though I love individual episodes and really like some of the plot arcs, there are other episodes and plot arcs I find tedious or actively unpleasant. It’s a show of peaks and valleys, running the gamut from cheesy to brilliant. I’m not denying the show’s impact, but for me personally it’s very hit or miss. While I’ll watch certain parts over and over forever, I don’t know that I’ll ever venture through the show in its entirety again.

Admittedly, this is all somewhat off topic, but I want to establish my level of fandom to help you guys gauge what you want to do with my opinion. I’m not a zealous fan, and my knowledge of Buffy lore is middling. With that, I wasn’t lost in Slayer, despite the fact that the Seed of Wonder thing referenced in the book apparently happened in the comic spin-offs of the show. White sets up anything you need to know that’s happened since the show, and, honestly, I suspect you need only very basic knowledge of the universe’s world building and who Buffy is to enjoy the book. If you haven’t ever seen the show, a general awareness of pop culture should probably be enough if you’re interested in the book.

When I heard the news about this book, I was torn between excitement and suspicion. I grew up in the dark ages when pretty much the only YA was novelizations of films and TV shows, which tended to be pretty atrociously bad. I worried a bit that Slayer might end up like that, especially since the Marvel/DC YA novels, though better than that, haven’t been outstanding. Slayer, though, totally exceeded my expectations.

Kiersten White was such a good choice for Slayer. Her writing is excellent, and she absolutely excels at writing complex, morally grey characters and scenarios, as exhibited in her prior series The Conqueror’s Saga. She’s an author whose books I initially was not impressed with, but she’s on fire the last few years.

Back story: to prevent one of a million apocalypses, Buffy destroyed the Seed of Wonder, which took magic out of the world. It also put an end to the magic that would have created new potentials/slayers. At the same time as that went down, almost all of the Watchers were killed, leaving a small contingent trying to figure out how to Watch in this new world.

The heroine of Slayer is Nina. Her name’s actually Athena, but no one really thinks that fits her, so Nina it is. Nina’s twin sister Artemis is everything Nina isn’t: strong, daring, and loved by their mom. They both live in the Watcher castle, with the few remaining Watchers. Nina trains to be a medic, and she finds pride in her work, even if it’s not highly valued.

I took to Nina right off. She’s a sweet girl, a bit unsure of herself. Her love for sister is apparent, as is her heartbreak at always coming a distant second in her mother’s affections. Still, despite all the shit, Nina has a great hufflepuff spirit, and she always tries to make the best of her role. Of course, she has flaws and makes mistakes and constantly wrestles with whether she’s doing the right things, but that just makes her more relatable. Also, because she’s so introspective, you always know why she makes the choices she does, even if you can tell there’s a trap ahead.

The rest of the cast is equally compelling, and there’s a decent amount of diversity, including an established m/m couple and a potential f/f ship. There’s a lot of complexity to the people around her, and I love that it’s perpetually difficult to gauge who’s on the side of good and who’s on the side of evil. That’s something the show wrestled with, and it’s thoroughly what the book is about.

That’s all encapsulated in Nina’s feelings on Buffy, which, fair warning, are not favorable. In relation to the show, I think it’s so fascinating for there to be a negative view on Buffy initially, and I love the way this all gets handled. Buffy was always more of an anti-hero, and it’s so interesting to get an outside view of her.

Since this book doesn’t come out until January 2019 (and I’m writing this in July 2018), I can’t talk about the plot too much, but I do want to say how much I loved it. Things happened that I saw coming, but other things totally blindsided me. I was on the edge of my seat for much of the book, and I loved the way everything unraveled in the end.

To me, Slayer was a perfect spin-off to Buffy, respectful and understanding of the original, while also striking up a new path. IMO, this is a peak in the cannon, and I very much want more.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Book Talk: Slayer by Kiersten White”

  1. I LOVE Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there are always a few episodes in every show that I don’t love. I am super pumped for this book and it gives me some peace that you thought it was a good addition to the canon. (I don’t know about peak, but I guess I will find out when I read it.) 🙂

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