A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Slayer is the first book from the world of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series and movie written by longtime Buffy fan/bestselling author Kiersten White (And I Darken trilogy). It helps to have watched the TV series to keep up with some of the characters and lore that pop up throughout the story. Expect demon-against-Slayer violence with many demons ending up dead (some by decapitation). Humans who die do so more quietly, in their sleep. Trauma from the past bubbles up often: the loss of a father and many family friends, a house fire, a girl whipped by own mother. Caged demons are tortured, with one slowly skinned alive. Other mature content stays pretty mild: a bar scene with some beers, some minor swearing, a couple of kisses, straight and LGBTQ. When the main character, Athena, discovers she has supernatural abilities as a Slayer, she doesn't forget that she's always been a healer and protector. She tries to find a way to be both.
What's the story?
In SLAYER, Athena knew something was different the moment the end times were thwarted and all the demon portals closed. Her chronic asthma ceased and she felt really strong and restless all the time. When a hellhound finds Athena and the remaining Watchers hiding out in Ireland, she acts before she can think, snapping its neck with her bare hands. Now everyone knows who she's become, including her twin sister Artemis, the one everyone thought would be the next chosen Slayer. When Athena's old crush, Leo, and his mom show up and want to train her to fight, Athena's mom refuses to let her. As she begins to train without Mom's permission, that's just the first of Athena's many secrets. A demon shows up in the woods, injured and unconscious, and Athena overrides her new Slayer instincts to kill him. She tries to save him instead.
Is it any good?
Buffy fans may find the start to this homage YA series a fun indulgence at first, but the storytelling, like the newest Slayer, lacks a clear direction. Most of the problem lies in main character Athena's inner story. Athena is upset about her relationship with her sister, with her mother who favors her sister, with the death of her father years before, with Buffy for getting them all into this mess, with her new powers that don't match who she thought she was, with the cute guy she was humiliated in front of, and the girl who humiliated her. And she's not trained to fight or think of herself as strong or someone who makes good decisions. These are all good things for a character to work out -- but not in a jumble all at once. It makes the big shifts in the story at the end seem as jumbled as her thinking.
Slayer, because it references Buffy the TV series and the character often, also takes too long to launch in its own direction. Buffy was best left behind a few chapters in. Here's hoping this great YA author, Kiersten White, finds her footing with this series and steers it in a clearer direction for Book 2.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Slayer in comparison with the TV show. Who do you like better: Buffy or Athena?
The twins have a difficult relationship. How does childhood trauma affect them differently? What about their relationship with their mother? How does their relationship change by the end of the story?
Will you read more in this series? Does this story make you want to watch or re-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
- Author: Kiersten White
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: January 8, 2019
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 10, 2020
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