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Booker Prize 2019: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite



Book 2 from the longlist rated by panellists Book Worm, Nicole, Susie, Tracy & Lisa

Synopsis from the Booker Prize website: 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, quote, self-defence and the third mess that 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 fit 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…

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I loved the relationship between the sisters, the wider family relationships and how Korede develops as a character. There are a lot of important themes covered including domestic abuse, arranged marriage, tribal influence, self image and the nature of beauty and truth.  Despite all this it still feels a bit lightweight to be nominated for this kind of prize.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 14/20

Nicole’s Thoughts:  I enjoyed this book.  It was a fun quick read.  I also enjoyed  Sharp Objects, but I don’t think it should be up for a prestigious literary award, so I’m a bit baffled.  It’s nice to read an everyday kind of book (for me anyway) that takes place in a country so far from my own – Nigeria (coincidentally, Orchestra also takes place there.)  Contrasting the two books, you can see the differences in rural and city living in that country, so that’s interesting.

This was a book about sisters, love, and family loyalty.  Also about abuse and resentment.  I don’t see a shortlist in its future.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 14/20 (though in a 5 scale rating I gave it 4/5 … go figure) 

Tracy’s Thoughts: Oh, I love an unreliable narrator done well! Korede and Ayoola are sisters, with secrets that they share and protect. One of them has a tendency to kill her boyfriends. The other does the clean-up. Neither is innocent, and both have skeletons in their closets. (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

What I liked about this, besides the narrator, is the ambiguity. Why, exactly, does Ayoola do these things? What triggers her? I have a theory, but not gonna share. I also like how it subtly addresses women’s issues, while still providing a good story.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 3.5/4
Plot development: 2.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 17/20

Susie’s Thoughts: I was conflicted about how to review Braithwaite’s offering. On the one hand it was thoroughly entertaining. It had a strong plot. But so did The Hunger Games, and it certainly didn’t belong on the longlist of the most prominent literary prize on Earth. There is something about My Sister the Serial Killer’s inclusion that irks me, but I’m wondering if that makes me a massive book snob. Perhaps it does.

If you are looking for a thriller then look somewhere else, because thriller My Sister the Serial Killer is not. Exploring themes related to codependency, responses to family violence and trauma, and blood being thicker than water, Braithwaite has constructed a character study more than anything else. Character studies are right in my wheelhouse, but sadly My Sister the Serial Killer left me wanting. I was led to believe I was delving in to a dark and comedic satire that defies the norms of mystery and thriller, but in this regard I found it underdone. Aside from the setting, I didn’t really feel as though there was anything new here. In the end I’m fairly ambivalent about it, and I doubt it will be a book I will remember.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 13/20

Lisa’s Thoughts: I very much enjoyed listening to this book. The story quickly drew me in and managed to have me rooting for a girl who is a murderer as well as her sister who helps her clean up after the murders. Over time, however, the narrator did certain things that hurt innocent people and that made her seem amoral rather than just bewildered by her sister’s behavior. She had a chance to grow and be a hero; but she chose not to.

Overall, an interesting portrait of women who were privileged materially but had also suffered. I took points off because although I enjoyed the writing style, there was nothing particularly original about it, and some of the plot twists were predictable. Worth reading, but probably will not win the prize.
Writing quality: 4/5
Originality:4 /5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment:2 /2
Total: 15 /20

My Sister, the Serial Killer 14.6
Lost Children Archive 13.3

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Janine P #

    I love how you are doing this for each book, I really enjoy reading your opinions. well done everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    August 6, 2019
  2. Reblogged this on The Sardonic Reviewer.


    August 7, 2019

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