Slayer by Kiersten White
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.
Slayer ended up being pretty much exactly what I was expecting. It was fun and exciting, nostalgic without relying on it, and had just the right amount of teen angst.
My favorite thing about Slayer was reading about the Buffy-verse from a different perspective. Nina and her family have not only never met a slayer, but they kind of hate them. Buffy made a lot of decisions in the show the ruffled the feathers of the Watchers, and it was interesting to see the other side of that story. Now that you mention it, Nina, Buffy is impulsive, and she does often act on instincts instead of thinking things all the way through! And while Buffy’s friends in Sunnydale were always very appreciative of her saving the world and all, Nina resents her for the damage left in the wake.
That being said, this novel absolutely stands on its own. White did a great job filling the reader in on everything they might have missed if they didn’t watch the show. I sometimes felt, in fact, that she was even overcompensating for the fact that a new generation of Buffy lovers probably haven’t seen the show. Often details or past event were shared over and over and over again. As someone who didn’t need to be told four times that Buffy killed magic I found this rather obnoxious, but I imagine if I was new to the Buffy-verse I would have very much appreciated it.
However, there are a few Easter-eggs for long time fans! No spoilers, but I was especially excited for one dreamscape cameo…
Nina was an interesting enough protagonist. While the damsel-turned-badass is getting to be a pretty familiar trope, it worked especially well for me because Nina isn’t too bookish, either. Her best character trait is that she’s kind. (And we all know I’m an all-caps SUCKER for a kind protagonist!) I did occasionally find her inability to follow through on anything she wanted to do kind of frustrating, though. She kept saying over and over, “I should really tell Artemis…” But then she WOULDN’T tell Artemis and would continue to complain about how much she hated keeping secrets from her! It felt like a plot point that she needed secrets, rather than something that naturally evolved out of her character or the situation.
There were some really heavy-handed elements, actually. Nina’s mom, for example. Gah, can’t explain without spoilers, but that whole story arc.
I also loved the sister relationship in this book! I appreciated that Nina and Artemis love each other but are going through a sisterly-rough-patch. You don’t see enough of that these days! I kind of wish the had duked it out, but maybe in future books… Their relationship ended up going in a completely different direction than I thought it would at the beginning, which was very exciting and fun to read.
Finally, I loved the way White explored the gray areas of good and bad. Are people born wicked? Nina is initially disdainful of Buffy and her relationships with the unpure, demon infected vampires. But through the course of the novel she meets some demons that are good people, and some people that are not-so-good people. It challenges Nina’s ideas and forces her to grow.
Overall, a very fun read! I would recommend it to old Buffy fans and newcomers alike. It was a fast, exciting read, and I can’t wait to get more in this series!