My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Format: Hard Back
Publisher: Doubleday, New York
Release Date: Sept 2018
Genre: Crime Fiction
Setting: Lagos, Nigeria
Rating: 3 Stars
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favourite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now, Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sister’s saving grace. She knows the best solution for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her ‘missing’ boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit. Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of of the day when he will realise tht she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her. (Source: Book Blurb)
Ayoola keeps killing the men in her life and her older sister Korede is always there to help her clean up and hide the bodies. Ayoola is the beautiful younger sister, a fashion designer, the apple of everyone’s eye who can get any man she wants, even the married ones and including the one her sister is eyeing. Korede is the older unattractive sister (by self-description), a nurse, she is a lot insecure and keeps trying to measure up to her sister (this sibling rivalry was so cliché). Their dad was an asshole which means the sisters have serious daddy issues. The End!
If you are expecting anything deeper with this book, you will be sorely disappointed. The book starts out strong and captivating but then quickly falls flat and becomes predictable and uneventful. As I kept reading, the plot became implausible and the characters dull. Ayoola is beautiful, murderous and shallow while Korede is smart, a little OCD-ish, passive and has such a self-defeatist attitude I wanted to shake her out of it. She was too hard on herself and that saddened and pissed me off.
“But is she your full sister, she looks kinda mixed”.
“Yinka is really starting to piss me off. The sad thing is that her questions are neither the most obnoxious I have received in my lifetime nor the most uncommon. After all, Ayoola is short – her only flaw. If you consider that to be a flaw – whereas I am six feet tall; Ayoola’s skin is a color that sits comfortably between cream and caramel and I am the color of Brazil nut, before it is peeled; she is made wholly of curves and I am composed only of hard edges.”
It also really irked me that the book is about murders that are presented in a satirical, humorous way as if there is anything remotely funny about murder, let alone harbouring a serial killer in your home! I accept that the author’s intentions may have been to just write a simple, enjoyable and easy story on sisterhood and familial bonds – nothing too deep or profound - and whilst this was fully achieved, I have my reservations on the moral issue of murder and the glorification of it with no repercussions in the book.
So what works for the book then, you might ask? The title, the simple prose and the humour. The entire premise is in that title, it is so sinister, dark and catchy, it begs to be picked up and read. The prose is also well done, very short chapters that are two pages long with very catchy headings making it an easy read you can comfortably finish in one sitting. The humour in the book is also undeniable. Despite my misgivings, considering the seriousness of the subject matter, there are bits of the book that had me laughing out loud.
This is one of those books you pick up when bored or going through a reading slump as a pick me upper. Whereas I enjoyed the story, I was not wowed by it and I am actually very surprised it made it to the Women’s Prize Shortlist.