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 (6 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]

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