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“Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.” And just like that, bestselling author Kiersten White snaps us back into the Buffyverse!

Nina has a lot of reasons to hate Buffy. Her choices got Nina’s dad killed, nearly destroyed the world (twice) and got nearly every Watcher in the world killed. Oh, and she broke magic. But, when magic broke, Nina uncovered a secret her family had been keeping for a long time. Nina is a Slayer. And not just any Slayer. The last Slayer. Ever.

But Nina’s instinct has never been to kill. It’s always been to heal. Making her transition as Slayer more difficult to embrace. On top of that, her twin sister Artemis is barely speaking to her because she wasn’t Chosen. Her mother flat out denies she’s a Slayer. And the only people who believe in her are her ex-crush, Leo, and his mother. With bodies piling up faster than the secrets and lies she’s uncovering, Nina quickly finds her new powers being tested. Can she find peace and balance between who she should be and who she wants to be? Or will she lose everything and everyone she ever cared about, including herself?

"White has managed to bring the major plot lines into this story while launching this entire new cast. All while maintaining the same sass and humor that I do remember being such a fun part of the show."

I feel like I need to admit that I was not a super fan of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” show when I was younger. I watched it. I enjoyed it. I even remember most of it. But, super fan, I was not. So I can 1000% assure you, that you do not need to have the “Buffy” canon memorized to enjoy this book. White has managed to bring the major plot lines into this story while launching this entire new cast. All while maintaining the same sass and humor that I do remember being such a fun part of the show.

On top of characters to love, White ensures that the only thing we know for sure, is that we don’t really know anything. Throughout the entire thing, I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was up to no good. I knew it! But who? That was the perpetual question!!! Every time I felt like a clue was dropped, something else would take me in a different direction. Is it her mom? Her sister? Someone on the Watcher council? Surely it can’t be the obvious nemesis Honora?! Needless to say, and no, I’m not going to tell you, I was guessing who was up to what all the way until the end!

My favorite thing about SLAYER though, is the emotional journey we go on with Nina. She carries with her some heavy emotions from her past. Issues with her mom, her sister, Buffy. All of those things play a huge role in how she sees herself, and presents a major obstacle in accepting her new role as Slayer. While none of us will ever have to deal with being a Chosen protector against demonic forces trying to end the world, I think we can all relate to the internal struggle of trying to define our place in the world. Where do we fit? How can we grow while staying true to our core values? This is the very essence of Nina’s struggle.

Fair warning, if you are a major “Buffy” fan, be prepared that Nina is not. This isn’t a character solely intent on bashing Buffy. She has very valid reasons for feeling how she feels, and again, White is very deliberate in showing us this complexity. The growth Nina goes through is even more satisfying in this lens, because this is forgiveness, acceptance and maturity at its best! Being able to look through our own biases from the past to move forward towards the future is a stunning message for teens to read and I am thrilled I was able to go through that journey with Nina.

This was a fun read. I loved the characters. I loved their struggles. I especially loved the Coldplay joke. It’s clever and nuanced and most importantly, filled with emotional struggles teens will relate to and learn from.

In all, SLAYER felt very true to the Buffyverse while distinctly claiming validity on its own. I can’t wait to see where Nina goes next!

Reviewed by Jena Brown on January 15, 2019

by Kiersten White