All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

on May 6, 2019

Slayer (Slayer #1)
Kiersten White
Simon & Schuster
2019, 404p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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.

I’m a part of the Buffy generation – however I watched the first episode when it aired and then never really went on with it. It wasn’t until years later when I was at university that I started watching it on a regular basis, probably from around season 4 or so. I watched right up until the end, although I never crossed over into watching Angel – perhaps because I didn’t start watching Buffy until after Angel had left.

It’s been a while since the end of the television series and although it’s continued on with comics, I haven’t kept up with it. I wasn’t sure I’d remember the details – I do remember that Buffy herself did something so that all the potential Slayers could become Slayers in order for the final battle but yeah, the details are a bit vague. That doesn’t really matter though because this book gives a bit of a brief recap enough and you could probably read it even if you weren’t a Buffy watcher and had only a very basic understanding of the Buffyverse.

Artemis and her sister Athena (Nina) are the daughters of Buffy’s first Watcher, who was killed protecting her. For this Nina has harboured a lot of resentment toward Buffy, which has festered during their years growing up in a Watchers Academy. Nina has always known that her sister was somewhat special and clearly seems chosen as her mother’s hope. Nina finds herself shunted to medical duties and so she does her best to perform them – until one day when she kills a hellhound without thinking.

Turns out that Nina is a Slayer – but she hasn’t had the training that a potential would’ve had and now she has to cram a lot of knowledge and training in, in order to take up the role. Her Watcher is Leo, her teenage crush and Nina constantly finds herself belittled and shut down. I think so many people are used to protecting her for so long, not realising that she was a potential, that they’re somewhat surprised now that she can take care of herself without even thinking about it. In fact, without thinking about it is the best way for Nina to do it. If she thinks, she panics. She needs to just let her instincts kick in and take over.

Nina feels a bit like she’s been the doormat twin most of her life. Artemis is strong and capable and she tends to boss Nina around and treat her like she’s a child. I’m not sure if this is just learned behaviour or if it’s because she truly thinks that Nina is incapable. Nina’s mother as well, has treated Nina a certain way her whole life which has led her to poor self-esteem and belief in her own self and it’s really affected the relationship the two of them have. Nina and her twin remain close but that seemed the case only as long as the status quo was maintained. Cracks appeared as soon as it became obvious that Nina was a Slayer.

I quite enjoyed the little mystery part of this, especially the demon that Nina sort of befriends and the information that she is able to gather from him by not automatically killing him or sending him back to hell or whatever one does with demons. This is used against her, to make her look weak and like she isn’t up to the task that has been set for her and Nina has to prove herself to people who are having a hard time seeing her in a new light. But Nina is quick thinking, even if she hasn’t trained hard with all the physicality yet and her enhanced abilities are enough for now. But it’s something she will have to dedicate herself to, as well as learning more about her role. No longer is she just a medic, which is a mental adjustment as well as physical.

I think for the first in a series, this was quite enjoyable. I did find a couple of the characters overly tedious (they’re supposed to be, but it just gets to a stage where it’s like too much teenage girl bickering) but I’m interested to see where it goes, especially in regards to her Watcher and the Slayer dreams that she experiences too. I hope she builds herself a core group much in the way that Buffy did with a variety of….creatures? what’s the right word there? to help her.

7/10

Book #64 of 2019


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