My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - Book Review

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - Book Review

This book really wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe it was the way it was designed (the back reads 'when blood is thicker...and more difficult to get out of the carpet...than water') or maybe it's my expectation of what I wanted this book to be, but I thought it would be a bit of a dark comedy. However, what this book actually was was more of a character study; a close look at one family, the various expectations put on the them and the things they struggle with - and I loved it.

It grabbed me right from the beginning - I did struggle 20-30 pages in as I realised that this wasn't what I expected it to be, but that was my fault rather than that book's. As the title tells you loud and clear, this is about Korede, whose little sister Ayoola keeps killing her boyfriends. So inconvenient. But, being the good big sister that she is, Korede is always there to help clean up the mess. And the body. But now, Ayoola is starting to show an interest in the man Korede is silently in love with, and she really doesn't want him to end up dead.

While I wouldn't call this book a satire, it definitely has a lot of societal commentary, and that's what's great about it. Korede and Ayoola have a conflicting yet pretty normal relationship as sisters - they love each other completely, but they also annoy each other endlessly. Korede is a hardworking nurse where they live in Lagos, always doing the right thing and looking out for her little sister. Ayoola, on the other hand, is stunningly beautiful and has everyone fawning over her. She rarely lifts a finger, but has everyone else wrapped around hers, and always gets what she wants. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book - I really felt for Korede, how she loved her sister so much, yet was so infuriated by her. I also felt for Ayoola, as annoying as she was, as she clearly felt like she had to live up to the proper woman her older sister was.

I also just loved and hated the way everyone treats Korede with regards to her sister. Korede clearly is trying to do her best, but doesn't want to indulge her bratty, spoiled sister too much, and is clearly devoted to her given that she literally got rid of a dead body for her. But no one else around her seems to see this. They all see Ayoola as perfect and lovely, and Korede as bitter and jealous. Some of the things the other characters say to Korede are so frustratingly delicious!

This books has some really interesting ideas on the importance of beauty, and how the way you look can influence how people treat you. Korede comments often about how beautiful her sister is, but how plain she is herself. On actions alone, Korede seems like the better person: kind, sensible, and hardworking, while her sister is lazy, selfish, and bratty. But because she's beautiful, Ayoola seems to just get away with everything - even murder.

The thing I found really interesting, though, was that it seemed like Ayoola was smarter than she let on. It's not a coincidence she has everyone wrapped around her finger - she knows how to play the men who fall for her to always get what she wants from them, and have them coming back for more. Korede is in love with a doctor she works with, and Ayoola insists that he is only interested in looks, just like other men. When Korede doesn't believe this, Ayoola starts dating him, and proves her point.

I read this book in two short sittings - the chapters are just a couple of pages long, and it's pretty short, so it's a very quick book to get through. When I first read it, I thought it was a pretty enjoyable book - fun and light, with interesting characters and a dark edge. But it's really stuck in my mind. I've found myself chewing over the ideas about beauty, and family, and expectation, and I've realised that this book has a lot more to it than I first realised.

It's definitely worth a read, and I enjoyed the way it played with genre. It's not a thriller, though there is murder. It's not a family drama, though there are some family secrets. It's a quick, entertaining read that gave me lots to think about and left me wanting more - I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this debut author to see what else she writes.

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