Mona Awad’s Bunny is a grotesque, Ivy-League version of Mean Girls. It involves some truly hideous and harrowing moments, but always couches those in sarcasm and black comedy. I won’t be spoiling the book in this review, so I can’t get into the exact details of what goes down, but I will give you an overview of how smart this book is and why I liked it so much.
Samantha Heather Mackie is a graduate student getting her creative writing degree at Yale- I mean, Warren University. She is a writer, but doesn’t fit in with the rest of her class. At the top of the social hierarchy are the Bunnies, a group of wealthy, pretentious women that spend all their time together and gather for their own private readings. Samantha is surviving on her own, bolstered by time with her sarcastic friend, Ava, until she gets invited to The Bunnies’ private reading time. From this point forward, Samantha gets further and further sucked into the world of the Bunnies. It’s a more horrific world than she could have imagined.
That sounds odd.
I wouldn’t classify this book as weird fiction, but it definitely becomes pretty bizarre. What worked really well for me about this book were the body horror elements and the perspective. We spend the entire book in Samantha’s head, experiencing her descents into and out of madness alongside her. Being trapped in Samantha’s mind was where the horror truly came through.
I also really loved how Samantha and Ava never failed to call out the elitism and classism of their classmates, while at the same time envying their privilege. This entire book is a satire on Ivy League elitism. We’ve all known a Bunny. Someone who believes they’re morally superior based on where they went to college. Someone who won’t shut up about how great their time at [insert top school here] was, how many connections they made there. If you’ve ever known someone like that, this book will resonate with you. Awad nailed that condescending culture. Because of that authenticity, the black comedy really worked.
Where does storytelling come in?
Aside from being a wickedly funny satire, Bunny is also a book about storytelling. Samantha, our protagonist, is a writer herself (and not in a frustrating, self-insert way that a lot of authors do it). She spends a lot of time thinking about writing. By the end of the novel, you realize that everything the Bunnies did was a metaphor for writing a story. This realization came to me slowly as I read the last chapters, and made me instantly want to reread the book. Bunny makes literal, and grotesque, the process of telling a story.
Ultimately, Bunny is a creepy but hilarious book that tears down the superiority complexes of people that go to elite schools. It is a book that you can analyze deeply, and has a perfectly executed plot twist. I do think it was too long and a little confusing, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I think you would love this book if you enjoyed I’m Thinking of Ending Things. This is a book I’m going to be thinking about for a long time.
“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut
Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.
I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.
Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.
Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.
The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.
This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.
Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.(4.5 / 5)
Buy it here!
A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”
“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?” — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.
The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.
Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.
This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.
It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.(4 / 5)
Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel
“That doesn’t invalidate it,” Angel said. “There’s no statute of limitations on pain.”
Angel is a man who knows pain: physical, mental, sexual. The story begins with Angel visiting Room 6 at the Lonely Motel and ordering a plus-size sex worker to his room. What comes next is Angel’s retellings of painful stories while performing sexual acts on the sex worker, Shyla.
The novel reads as a book of short stories, as Angel relays stories to Shyla and she tells him stories back. This is a novel of pain and disgust. Angel’s stories are so dark and traumatic that Shyla can’t believe they are true. As Angel bares his soul, we see a side of him that is melancholy and unable to process hurt in a natural way.
This novel is full of disgusting visuals and isn’t afraid to get dirty. This truly is an extreme horror novel. As a warning, there is discussion of feces, blood, rape, sex, and body horror. This novel is not for the faint of heart. You’ll close this short novel feeling dirty. Angel is a character that begs for sympathy while his stories narrate that he may not be as innocent as he perceives.
When the subtitle says this novel is extreme horror, believe it. Only the strong will survive Duncan Ralston’s Woom. It is more splatterpunk than anything, but true literary quality lies beneath the filth.(4 / 5)