Book Review: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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Title: My Sister, The Serial Killer

Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Crime Fiction

Number of Pages: 228

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes


 

As soon as I heard this book existed, I knew I just had to read it. Based on the title alone, I knew it was probably going to be my cup of tea. There aren’t exactly a shortage of books about sibling rivalry between a plain sister and her gorgeous counterpart, but to say this novel is not a typical rehash of this trope is an understatement. My Sister, The Serial Killer is set in Nigeria and is narrated by the ‘plain sister,’ Korede.

 

Korede lives with her ineffectual mother and popular, gorgeous younger sister Ayoola even though both sisters are adults. Korede is a hard-working, reliable loner with a fairly dull personality who is a bit of a germophobe. She works at a hospital and confides her secrets in a elderly patient who is comatose, but obviously dislikes most of the people she works with.  Korede’s biggest secret is, unsurprisingly, that her sister Ayoola is a serial killer.

 

Ayoola has killed every man she has ever dated in her adult life and always tries to pass it off as self-defense. Korede, being her only sister and sharing a horrific past most people could only imagine, cleans up her mess. Again. And again. Suddenly the situation becomes infinitely more complicated when Ayoola sets her sights on a good-natured young man at the hospital that Korede is infatuated with, and Korede has to decide how far her loyalty will go for a psychopath who she has nevertheless remained determined to protect.

 

There’s almost an element of absurdism to Ayoola’s character and the sheer extent of what she’s able to get away with because, well… she’s hot. Police don’t look deeply into the deaths of pretty much every man she’s ever dated despite the extreme red flags it raises, and men and women alike seem to grow weak in the knees at the sight of her. Aside from her obvious callousness and cruelty, Ayoola was also really, really, annoying. I couldn’t keep myself from cringing at scenes with her in them.

 

Even though Korede was also incredibly unsympathetic (despite being ‘the one with the conscience’) the novel did do a good job of making the reader understand why she was so doggedly loyal to Ayoola, even though Ayoola had no redeeming qualities and most likely cared very little for her sister/enabler. I imagine it would be hard to pull off writing a relationship like that without it seeming like just a morbid plot device, but I thought the author nailed it.

 

Even though this book was a total page turner for me and every time I put it down I was excited to return to it, I didn’t love it quite as much as I hoped I would.  I don’t know what it was about it that let me down a little bit, especially since I can’t think of any major complaints I had about it. I guess after a certain point the story and the characters felt a little one note, with the murderous whack job sister trying to get what she wanted while the *cough* ‘reasonable’ sister agonized over it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book and was excited to find out what happened at the end despite the general crappiness of the main characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel set in Nigeria before and as for the story, I thought it was an original concept executed well.

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