Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
When I was a young whippersnapper of around 16 years old there was a tv show I loved and adored. It was witty, sexy, dramatic, action-packed and for me was quite simply streets apart from everything else. This show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
How can I explain my love for Buffy? I had action figures, posters of all the main cast in my room (yes, even Xander) and was a proud owner of a photo signed by all of the main cast and a comic signed by James Marsters (in gold ink). We had Buffy viewings at my boyfriend’s house and even his horrible friends could set aside their emnity for an hour to enjoy the wonders of Buffy. I owned the terrible Gameboy Colour game…
Hell, I even went to see James Marsters’ band when they played in Edinburgh.
I still regularly listen to the Once More With Feeling soundtrack on my commute. I guess you could say I am a fan.*
I was never particularly interested in the Buffy spinoff novels, but when I heard Kiersten White was releasing a novel based in the Buffyverse I was P-U-M-P-E-D. I love White’s past novels and knew she was more than capable of encompassing the less savoury aspects of humanity. If you’ve read The Conqueror’s Saga you know exactly what I mean. My favourite show and one of my favourite authors, yay!
So how was it? The novel starts well and from the outset it felt like a Buffy novel. There was the same familiar humour and snappy dialogue e.g
“Of all the awful things demons do, keeping Latin alive when it deserves to be a dead language might be the worst.”
And the inclusion of some exposition to explain things to those less familiar with Buffy makes it accessible to non fans. References to familiar characters added a nice touch of nostalgia as well as introducing us to some new characters, some who were related to characters from the series.
The main characters are twins, Athena (Nina) and Artemis. First of all….cool names. Mum, you should have been more imaginative. Nina and Artemis are the daughters of Buffy’s first Watcher, Merrick Jamison-Smythe and we find them currently in the employ of the Watchers Council. There’s a doom laden prophecy relating to the twins (come on, it’s Buffy) and it quickly transpires that one of the twins is a Slayer.
The writing is good, and up to White’s normal high standard. However, I found the characters rather flat, especially compared to the author’s past characters e.g. Lada from The Conqueror’s Saga who was multi-layered, complex and conflicted. Nina in particular was just annoying to me and some of her actions and inner monologue didn’t make sense to me at all. Artemis was pretty cool though and Cordelia, sorry I mean Honora, was a bitchy and fun inclusion.
I found the story itself a bit….boring to be quite frank. Nothing really interesting happens until nearly half way through the book and I found the action scenes quite lacklustre. I didn’t care for the main romance in the story and didn’t feel there was much chemistry between the characters. The Big Bad was predictable too, I knew who it would be as soon as they were introduced. I guess I just didn’t really care what happened to anyone in this story and as a character driven reader that is really important to me.
This book would have made a pretty cool episode of Buffy but it just didn’t work as a book to me. I really am a huge fan, and the temptation is for me to forgive the issues I found in this book but if I was reading it as a stand alone book,and knew nothing about Buffy, I’d be wondering what all the fuss is about.
*The issue with nostalgic pondering is you are left thinking ‘where did all that stuff go???’. Time to call my mum methinks.