Cover Image: My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed the book. It was a fast paced read and it was interesting to see the relationship between the two sisters - one who will do anything to protect a sister she doesn't even to seem to like, and the other who takes this for granted - perhaps because in addition to being a serial killer ... she's a sociopath.
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Korede receives a call from her sister and she knows it's going to be body clean up. Ayoola, her younger sibling has a nasty habit of killing her boyfriends and when her sister starts dating Korede longtime boss (and crush) she's left with a serious decision. This book was everything I hoped it would be. I'm a big fan of serial killer books (they're just so fascinating to me) and this took on such a different approach to it. There's a bit of a Gillian Flynn/Paula Hawkins vibe with some distrust of characters but it's not Korede that's overly concerning... mostly... I don't want to give spoilers so I'll just say go read it and brace yourself for a wild ride.
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The premise is right there in the title: Ayoola keeps killing her boyfriends and her sister Korede gets roped in to clean up the messes, literally and figuratively. Drama ensues when they both set their sights on the same guy.

Written in a breezy style with short punchy chapters, this is an even quicker read than the page count suggests. It’s fun, clever and engaging, but a bit too snack-sized to really satisfy.
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This was a great, quick read! I would read anything Braithwaite writes. Her style is so sparse and clear, and it has the perfect blend of dark humor and cultural commentary.
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Illuminating, eye-opening, intriguing, and disturbing

Sometimes we need to read a book twice to really appreciate it.
My initial review of “My Sister, the Serial Killer,” the debut novel by Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite, was four out of five stars because I hate the ending and I shudder at the life choices of the protagonists. The novel is brilliant, however, and I conceded that readily.

After seeing Moira Macdonald's interview with Oyinkan Braithwaite (Seattle Times, July 24, 2019), I had to re-read the novel, and now I'll rewrite my review, which began like this:

Stellar prose with a protagonist who narrates in present tense, with an authentic and compelling voice - tension, conflict, action, and surprises - yet I couldn't like a single person in this book, except maybe the coma patient and the janitor. Our narrator refers to the servant as "the house girl" - and by the end of the novel, I'd hoped, she would humanize this girl with a name, but she didn't. And that isn't the only thing about Korede I found off-putting. I realize this is set in another culture (Nigeria) where fathers can pimp their daughters to polygamists with impunity, the police are even more corrupt or incompetent than they are here in the U.S., and women have yet to hear "You've come a long way, baby" (referencing a retro Virginia Slims ad). I might become a homicidal maniac myself, were I to have born into a patriarchal society.

Trying to avoid spoilers, I'll say Korede not only knows that her sister is a murderer, but she also helps her dispose of the body and clean up the crime scene. Once, twice, and three times marks you as a serial killer. Korede is an accessory. The third victim is young, handsome, a poet. Does he really deserve the death sentence? Must his mother, sister, and other family suffer forever the not-knowing what has become of their loved one?

Macdonald writes,

> The novel is told from the point of view of Korede, a nurse who lives with her family in Lagos, Nigeria. She’s a quiet, painfully tidy young woman who exists in the shadows of her beautiful, vivacious sister Ayoola, the favored child of their widowed mother. (“Ayoola’s loveliness is a phenomenon that took my mother by surprise,” muses Korede. “She was so thankful that she forgot to keep trying for a boy.”) Ayoola is the sort who expects others to clean up her messes — quite literally.

Macdonald also wrote,

> Though she’s part of a strong recent line of Nigerian-born women authors — among them Ayebami Adebayo (“Stay With Me”), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (“Half of a Yellow Sun,” “Americanah”), Helen Oyeyemi (“Boy, Snow, Bird,” “Gingerbread”), and Chinelo Okparanta (“Under the Udala Trees”) — Braithwaite’s voice is unique; I’ve never read anything quite like “My Sister, the Serial Killer,” and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

From her home in Lagos, the novelist corresponded with book reviewer Macdonald via email.

Macdonald:

> Here’s the place where I fell hopelessly in love with your book: page 12 (U.S. hardcover edition), when Korede — helping her murderer sister dispose of a body — expresses suspicion about the young mother who just misses the elevator: “What good could she be up to moving around at that hour, with a child in tow?” Did you initially set out to write a serial-killer thriller that was funny? Or did the wit emerge along the way?

Braithwaite:

> Thank you! I didn’t realize the story was funny until the initial reviews started to come out! Prior to that, I would not have described it as a comedy, dark or otherwise. Though I think the humor came about because I was writing a dark tale, a novel, and I didn’t want to be immersed in darkness for that length of time. So my characters were very matter of fact about the horrific things taking place, and so was I.

Me again:

I have strong feelings about this novel. My sister was missing for months before her body was found (her killer has not been found out), so I'm biased toward the victims and their loved ones here, and not sympathetic toward Korede and Ayoola. Not that I believe the author intends for us to feel they are justified in their crimes.

There's a surprise twist that makes Korede seem less reliable as a narrator and less sympathetic as a character than we first think. I hated her for her petty act of vandalism and the thing she tossed into the lagoon (let's just say I still hate Rose in "The Titanic" for a symbolic gesture). I hated her even more for allowing another character to suffer the consequences of her (Korede's!) crime. This man did NOT have it coming.

After years of reviewing books, I still wonder how to discern the number of stars--four, or five?--a book deserves. It's ultimately a matter of personal preference. I'm pretty sure the author does not intend for readers to approve of all Korede's decisions. She is showing us, in cool and impartial prose, a character who is all too believable, too authentic, too real.

I do feel for Korede, the stick girl, the plain Jane, whose little sister is so beautiful, men lose all sense of reason around here. Including the doctor Korede is secretly in love with. Once Tade starts wooing Ayoola, he is quite likely to end up like Ayoola's previous boyfriend's. How will Korede protect Tade from her sister? Why is Tade just another stupid man after all, falling for a beautiful liar and manipulator? I really wanted to see the man who would see through Ayoola and fall for Korede.

Maybe in a sequel? Not likely.

I found the ending extremely unsatisfying. Korede fails to make the character arc I was hoping she would make, and this is all too believable but heartbreaking and maddening.

Braithwaite writes 5-star prose, but the ending moves this novel into the horror genre. If you're a horror fan, this is scarier than any mutant monsters or demons.

Moira Macdonald calls this a wickedly funny thriller (and it's longlisted for the Booker Prize). The dark humor, the surprise twists, make this novel a winner. I hated myself for liking Walt so much in "Breaking Bad," and I hate myself for liking this story so much, which is really the ultimate tribute to an author.

You'll find one- and two-star reviews of this novel at Amazon. You'll also find the reviewers openly admit they "just didn't get it." I never listen to podcasts, but if you do, here's one I found via Twitter:

> Autumn and @kdwinchester talk to @OyinBraithwaite about her novel MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER, from @doubledaybooks. Have a listen wherever you get your podcasts! 🎧 https://buff.ly/30GGVXv


I will repeat, the prose is brilliant. Don't take my word for it. Download a sample chapter via Amazon. Or just buy the book from any of a number of sites, e.g. #indiebookstore #shoplocal #indielite http://ow.ly/aUWG50vwub8 .

NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE

Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.
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This was surely not what I expected (and yes I did read the synopsis).   I expected there to be more depth-I just can't work up giggles over bloody murder.  As much as I love my sister, if she killed someone I would try to get her help after I  got her a good lawyer.

I did enjoy experiencing a country outside of my comfort zone. 

It was a cool cover though!
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As the only debut novel in this year's Booker competition, and having already been nominated for a handful of other prizes, I can why this has been getting some backlash for not being an 'award worthy' pick. It DOESN'T have much in the way of strong character development or complex allegorical underpinnings - it's a pretty straightforward thriller cum social satire, but what it does, it does extremely well. It moves quickly, and I was fascinated by the portrait of Nigerian society it proffers (although a glossary of Yoruba words would have helped!) There was one clunky transition near the end that could have been clearer, but for the most part I really enjoyed taking the journey - and unlike others, I couldn't foresee all the plot twists. It is interesting to compare this with the recent winner of the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing,Skinned since both concern the plight of women in African countries. 

My sincere thanks to both Netgalley and Doubleday for the eBook ARC of this novel in exchange for this honest review.
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I really admire the author's grasp of psychology in this fascinating novel. As a psychology major in time past and a long-time autodidact of this subject, I was quickly riveted. Set in an unfamiliar locale (Lagos, Nigeria) with intermittent dialogue in the local vernacular, yet the characters shine with such clarity I would recognize them if we passed on the street, or if they lived next door.


Ayoola is pure egotistical, solipsistic Narcissist. She is literally the queen and only focus of her universe. Child of an unspeakably sadistic sociopathic father and a mother for whom Denial is not just a river in Egypt, Ayoola is the younger sister of a clever and diligent enabler, Korede. Ayoola acts and reacts, unthinking; Korede disposes. The guilt should be Ayoola's; but like the young killer in Poe's "The Telltale Heart," it is Korede who suffers, whose nightmares and waking hours are populated by Ayoola's possibly innocent victims. Ayoola dances through life like a marvelous untouchable butterfly; all who see her are drawn like moths to her fatal flame.
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I received a digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

I listened to the audiobook, fyi. I am
Not sure how I feel about this book. I enjoyed it, but there isn’t a real resolution and while there are opportunities for change Korede doesn’t take them. So instead of this being a story of a sister who realizes that her sister is a serial killer and tries to stop her, it is more of a snapshot. It brings to mind a quote I’ve heard recently- “We all have our roles to play.”  Some of the things that Korede did had me wondering what she was thinking, and others had me shaking my head. I didn’t feel bad for her at all. When the tables were turned I wanted to shout “Well what did you expect?”. As strange as it may sound, there were moments that had me laughing out (when the coma patient wakes up).  This is a book definitely worth checking out.
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This was a very interesting book.that will leave you thinking when it’s over. Told in short vignettes (for lack of a better term) by Korede whose sister has now killed 3 boyfriends (which makes her a serial killer.) Ayoola calls and Korede is always there to clean up the mess. But what will happen when Ayoola sets her eyes on Tade, a doctor at the hospital Korede works as a nurse? Add to that the fact that Korede is secretly in love with Tade and who knows what might happen. Not gory or scary as the title will make some believe. 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read and review this book.
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I loved this book! Korede's sister Ayoola has just killed her boyfriend and called Korede to help her clean up the scene of the crime and get rid of the body. But this isn't the first time this has happened and it won't be the last, because Ayoola is a serial killer. She uses self-defense as her excuse, claiming that her boyfriends are hitting her. But Korede is getting tired of cleaning up after her sister. And then her sister steals the doctor that Korede is in love with. How long will Korede put up with her sister's antics? I absolutely loved the ending of My Sister, the Serial Killer!
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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Net Galley. Not so much a thriller as a sharp and satirical look at family dynamics, social media and girl power. I really enjoyed this brief novel. It's not nearly as dark as the title suggests.
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This wasn’t what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it. It’s fast-paced and smart and well-realized, and there’s a compelling push-and-pull dynamic between Korede and Ayoola that makes it believable both that Korede resents what she does for Ayoola *and* that she keeps doing it, which is something I tried to write into a short story about codependent siblings once and it just turned into a mess.
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Published by Doubleday on November 20, 2018

Ayoola and her sister Korede begin My Sister, the Serial Killer by disposing of a body . . . again. Ayoola stabbed her boyfriend in the heart. His name was Femi. Ayoola can’t remember his last name.

Ayoola has killed two other men. She contends that she killed them in self-defense. When she feels Korede is reproaching her for being a serial killer, she accuses Korede of victim-shaming. Still, Ayoola isn’t all bad; she would take the most recent stabbing back if she could.

Korede works in a hospital. When Dr. Tade asks Korede if he can have her sister’s number, Korede tells him that Ayoola’s relationships tend to end badly. Korede has a thing of her own for Dr. Tade, but she lacks Ayoola’s beauty and effortless ability to ensnare men. Dr. Tade believes Korede should stop undermining Ayoola. Little does he know.

The reader, of course wonders whether Dr. Tade, who seems like a nice enough fellow, will be the next to die. Or perhaps it will be Gboyega, a married man who is financing Ayoola’s fashion business.

The reader also wonders if Korede will make trouble for herself by chatting with a comatose patient named Muhtar. She confides her sister’s murderous actions, then frets when Muhtar awakens. Will he recall her confessions and, if so, what will he do about them?

Korede’s low self-esteem, her complicated relationships with Ayoola and her father, and her longing for Dr. Tade all coalesce to make Korede a sympathetic character. She is a voice of reason compared to most of the other characters, who seem to live in a world of frivolity and needless drama, a world that fails to value the truly valuable. At the same time, Korede is an enabler and has an obsessive moment in which her own behavior is less than exemplary. The novel thus reflects the reality that even good people have their bad moments.

Told in deadpan prose, most of the story is light and amusing despite the rising body count. Oyinkan Braithwaite invites chuckles with her observant wit and clever dialog. For example: “‘Hey! I hate stingy men!’ Chichi repeatedly snaps her fingers over her head, warding off any stingy man who might be tempted to come near her.” And: “She has used juju to useless my husband!”

At the same time, the story is serious when it focuses on Korede’s abusive father, who beats his daughters and offers Ayoola’s virginity to induce a business deal. Perhaps it is with good reason that Ayoola is quick to kill men. The patriarchal nature of Nigerian society and its tendency to treat women as property is one of the two serious themes of My Sister, the Serial Killer.

At the end, as is often the case with people who do not live up to their own expectations, Korede has to make a decision about what kind of person she really is. Whether or not the reader approves of that choice, the novel makes clear that she is the only person who has the right to determine her future. Nobody can decide who someone else should be. That’s the novel’s second serious theme, and it serves to balance a story that is in other respects goofy and fun.

By the way, I thought it was interesting that in Nigeria, the word MAGA means fool. Sounds about right.

RECOMMENDED
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Original. A delightful portrait of a dysfunctional family with an unusual twist. Set in Nigeria, this book walks readers through an unconventional story line set in an unusual place in the world. I loved reading about Lagos and learning just a little about Nigeria and getting a glimpse at the way things work. there. I enjoyed this title.
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was a gripping thriller that took you to every aspect of trying to figure out what was really going on  and what was going to happen next! This was such an amazing book and I can’t wait to see what else is released from this author!
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Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer is a fluid, brisk read that will hook a reader from the title alone. Easily read in one sitting, the dark and comic tale perfectly coins familly dysfunction and sibling rivalry - and takes sisterly loyalty to an unexpected extreme. While I might have appreciated a tad more depth and detail at times, Braithwaite weaves a fast-paced and sharp-edged tale for the ages.
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Overall I was left disappointed by this one. I liked the setting and the main character wasn't bad, although I found her constant covering up for her sister absolutely infuriating. I mean, she was literally murdering people so...yeah. I suppose based on the summary and the title I was expecting a dark humor book, which I did not get. I honestly think the book would have been much improved with some gallows humor. On a positive note: the audiobook narrator was good.
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This was a fun read that both flipped a genre on it's head (a female serial killer!) and put it in a new setting (modern Nigeria). I loved being immeshed in this world and slowly discovering the complicated family dynamics that led to the odd sibling relationship between our two main characters. The ending felt a little hurried, but maybe that's in response to me wishing I could have stayed in this world longer.
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A messed up little book that had me hooked from the first sentence. So much about this frustrated me and made me want to rip my hair out - from the actions that propelled the story to the SUPER twisted and unhealthy family dynamics. Such a fun and surprising read.
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