My Sister, the Serial Killer
December 21, 2018 10:02 AM - by Oyinkan Braithwaite - Subscribe

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in "self-defense" and the third mess her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...
posted by DirtyOldTown (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed this... until the end. This being a kind of high concept story about a serial killer's enabling sister, you would expect for some tense scenes at the end, some real confrontation, maybe even a showdown of some kind. It never gets there.

I really liked the prose. I liked Korede's narrative voice. I liked the portrait of Ayoola as a beautiful person whose Instagram-fed sense of exceptionalism and entitlement went amok. I especially liked the urban upscale setting in Lagos, which felt familiar but was layered around the edges with detail.

(Though I cannot be the only one who raised an eyebrow when Korede would rail against her sister's myopic self-absorption... and then have the house girl bring her a fresh squeezed juice.)

But while I liked the attention paid to the quieter moments in between the kills, I was a little surprised we never actually got to be on the scene when Ayoola went off.

And the ending? It just felt like Korede ended where she began. And not in a full circle way... more in the sense that the protagonist didn't really have a journey.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed this book!

I liked the ending, and felt like it was Korede making a choice about who she was and wanted to be. Family first, man.
posted by graventy at 7:09 AM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Question: is this post part of the ToB book club? I'm guessing book clubs posts will liberally accept spoilers and be open for discussions of other titles as well...

asking since this is the first (overstory aside) ToB shortlisted book posted since the tourney announcement
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:37 AM on December 29, 2018

I loved this book. I've read that the author is very much into anime and I experienced the book as very visual. It struck me as almost cartoonish until some of the women's family background came to light and I surprised myself by feeling something for these characters. Looking at the crucial flashback (page 80) I feel as if the characters' development may have ended right there. Their destiny was kind of locked in at that moment, and Korede's arc, if there is one in this book, is in coming to accept that.
posted by BibiRose at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2019

This is the fastest I've read a novel in ages. The anime influence is one I would not have guessed at, but it makes a lot of sense. I read that she wrote the book in a month (!) while she was blocked on a Big Serious Novel, and that makes a lot of sense, too. The brief chapters feel like webisodes to me, little snippets that fly by but are always necessary to drive the story forward. It's almost like reading a book entirely in text messages. That's not a complaint -- I've been reading a lot of heavy academic stuff, and this was such a welcome change of pace for me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:02 PM on January 31, 2019

I'm impressed by how she manages to create very vivid scenes and emotions with a conservative use of description. I really enjoyed it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:32 PM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Their destiny was kind of locked in at that moment, and Korede's arc, if there is one in this book, is in coming to accept that.

Oh that's it exactly! I just finished reading this, then quickly re-reading it to look for foreshadowing and irony and stuff.

My favourite pair of quotes:
Ayoola did what she always does in the company of men, but what is his excuse? (Heart chapter, after Tade reveals he knows Ayoola has cheated on him)
"There's something wrong with her... but you? What's your excuse?" He walks away from me then with disgust. (Theatre chapter, after they bring Ayoola to hospital)
Korede is such a great character. Resentful and hypocritical, but a brave and resourceful survivor too. And I enjoyed the subversion of the usual serial killer tropes. Only men are killed, and there's lots of cleaning scenes instead of violence.

Questions I still have:
- how manipulative is Ayoola? Korede describes her more like a force of nature, but surely she knows what she's doing.
- because, was Ayoola trying to protect Korede from being hurt by Tade or was she trying to keep Minion #1 from leaving her? She was pretty open about the trip to Dubai, and not baking. We don't know if she whines about how mean Korede is to everyone or just to Tade. She's right about him though - at every turn he excuses her and doesn't hesitate to change his opinion of his friend and colleague Korede just because Ayoola says so. He doesn't know her, or love her the way that her family does. But she's hot so she must be nice.
- is Korede as ugly as she thinks she is? The compares herself using makeup to using an air-freshener in a toilet, which is a brutal bit of low self-esteem. But only Muhtar's wife mentions her looks by saying that she isn't a fine looking woman. And Korede apparently looks like her mother but she's not as harsh about her mother's appearance as she is about everyone else's. I don't think the schoolboy taunts count because kids are awful.
posted by harriet vane at 10:25 PM on January 5, 2021

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