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My Sister, the Serial Killer

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Member Reviews

‘My Sister, The Serial Killer’ is an amazing book with lots of tension and some very twisted plot points. This book is such a quick read and I found myself not wanting to put it down. The unique plot caught my attention straight away and held it to the very last page. I found myself half rooting for Korede and Ayoola to get away with these murders and half hoping they got caught just to see how it would play out. 

I really loved Korede’s character because she’s such a loyal, strong female lead. Ayoola’s character frustrated me to no end and I felt similar emotions as those of Korede throughout the book. I also really enjoyed reading a book set in Nigeria which is very different from the usual books I read which seem to always be set in the UK or the USA. It was a really refreshing location to read about. 

The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the ending, which wasn’t bad but it ended in a way I never expected and I thought it would be more explosive than it was. Although the ending definitely doesn’t take away from how great the rest of the book is and is still definitely worth a read.

I can definitely see why ‘My Sister, The Serial Killer’ was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!
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A short but sharp and satirical novella about two sisters - a serial killer and her enabler. For such a dark premise, the book is darkly funny and just plausible enough to be titillating without veering into the absurd. The sisters have a complicated relationship - made more complicated by all the murders, naturally - which really forms the heart of this novel and their family background and their interactions keep things interesting. There are some excellent and thought-provoking observations, particularly about the way men think about behave towards women, and the implications and consequences for those women. The writing is fantastic, and I'm excited to see more from this author in the future.
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What I liked most about Oyinkan Braithwaite's highly anticipated novel was its originality.  I wasnt expecting it to be sprinkled with dark humour.  The story centres around Sisters, Korede and Ayoola and the secrets that they keep.  Korede is fed up cleaning up her sisters mistakes, but is Ayoola about to cross a line?  3 stars
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'My Sister the Serial Killer' is a simply written and at times darkly comic novel set in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Personally, I think the actual story of the book lies in the difficult bond between the two sisters, their shared history of abuse and their struggles within patriarchal society in general. 

In the end the whole message is that there is often little we would not do for those we love. Especially those we feel we owe a debt of gratitude or feel even partially responsible for when our pasts are shown to explain reasons for somewhat unstable mental health. 

I enjoyed the story and the style in which it was written, however I also felt it left me wanting. I've struggled to decide between three and four stars, but ultimately I'd expected more and felt the book didn't quite deliver as much as I'd hoped.
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My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Set in Lagos, Nigeria, nurse Korede practically has a second job cleaning up after her sister Ayoola, who seems to lure men in almost siren style, habitually killing them. Unsurprisingly, painting a picture of Ayoola as a vicious princess that you want to dislike, that even her own sister wants to dislike (‘Ayoola looks like a Bratz doll and I resemble a voodoo figurine’).

The plot is set up fast with a catchy opener, the second novel I’ve recently read - the other being Good Samaritans, a seriously twisted comedy - that establishes the tone of the novel via an introduction to the wonders of bleach, which is always handy if you have a body to dispose of. 

Shamefully, my knowledge of African literature is thinner than a piece of tracing paper, yet it is clear that in any other context this novel wouldn’t stick together as it does, the things that matter in this society, such as status and class, underpinning the characters beautifully as the layers of the story are unwrapped. It presents itself as a dark comedy then reveals a tender tribute to loyalty, exploring the legacy of abuse and the fragility of mental health. At it’s heart, it isn’t about serial killers, nor murder, or even crime. It isn’t even about the ‘why’ to the crime, though we are given answers to questions that we didn’t even think to ask.

Even as a serious undercurrent gradually shapes the plot, the mischievous sarcasm of Korede stops the novel from becoming far too heavy. I shouldn’t laugh at Korede’s handling of simply being a woman, but I do, because us women don’t even realise half of the things we do to protect ourselves until it’s put in our face. Yet this novel doesn’t seem to have an agenda of slamming men, nor ridiculing the caricature-like ones who appear in it, it is just this: examining the complex relationship between two women who happen to be sisters.

My Sister, The Serial Killer was published by Doubleday on 3rd January 2019. Thank you to Doubleday for the ARC.

I read and reviewed My Sister, The Serial Killer quite some time ago, and it has since been long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Congratulations to Oyinkan Braithwaite for being nominated, and thank you for giving me the rare experience of looking through an award’s nominees and being able to say ‘I’ve read that! (And liked it)’
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I absolutely loved this story of two sisters, one a psychopath, the other the nurse who feels obligated to clean up after her. It's a really unusual take on the serial killer trope - not only is the murderer a woman, she has a supportive family around her. Too supportive, really. Throw in a comatose patient and a love triangle and you have one intriguing, captivating, fast paced novel.

I'd love to see a follow up to this. There's no way Ayoola would be able to rely on her good looks to get away with murder for much longer, especially given how far she's pushed Korede's loyalties. Blood seems to be thicker than water, but for how long?

Unusual must-read.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC without obligation.
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Korede is the sensible big sister who has always looked out for her flaky younger sister Ayoola.
Her duties become increasingly tricky as Ayoola becomes more troublesome, reaching a peak when Ayoola shows an interest in doctor Tade at the medical centre where Korede works. Tade, who has thus far been oblivious to Korede’s devotion, falls at once under Ayoola’s spell. 
My Sister, the Serial Killer is an enormously funny incisive swipe at the shallowness of men and a world where ‘beauty’ trumps everything else. The balance is just about right-   Oyinkan Braithwaite provides enough background on the girls’ father and family life, and about Lagos- Korede’s struggle to get her car back from the police is telling- to make this novel meaningful while the plot is mad enough to be entertaining.
I loved this.
Thanks to Netgalley and Atlantic Books
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I saw this book was awarded onto the womans prize longlist and immediately started reading it. I was expecting a  suspenseful thriller however instead I found a story about family dynamics, love between sisters and loyalty. I was absolutely hooked by this wonderful story and finished it in two sittings.

Would absolutely recommend to family and friends.
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Set in Lagos, Nigeria, this tells the story of two sisters - big sister Korede and her little sister Ayoola.

It has always been sensible, plain Korede's lot to take responsibility for Ayoola, after all she is the big sister and their upbringing was distressing. Korede always protected Ayoola from their violent father and she is now stuck in the role of protector, whether she likes it or not.

Ayoola is beautuful, carefree, impulsive and loved by all. She relies on Korede to get her out of the messes she gets herself into. The only problem is that Ayoola is also a serial killer...

This book was a lot of fun. The relationship between Korede and Ayoola is so frustrating to witness. Korede is  unable to break out of the destructive cycle forced upon her by Ayoola's murderous impulses, even when Ayoola sets her sights on the man Korede loves. The cycle seems doomed to repeat for ever.

Highly recommended. This title has been shortlisted for the Women's for Fiction 2019 too.
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Korede’s sister, Ayoola, is beautiful, charming, and has murdered her last three boyfriends. Korede is the only person who knows and has helped to clean up the blood and get rid of the bodies, but she’s had enough. When Ayoola starts dating a handsome doctor from the hospital where Korede works, she is finally forced to look at what her sister has become and do whatever she can to stop the list of dead boyfriends from growing.

This book is genius. It is filled with dark humour and is surprisingly plausible. The characters are distinctly flawed but also believable and I found myself sympathising with both sisters. Although the story focusses on the present and Ayoola’s relationship with Tade, enough information is given about their childhood to really allow the reader to understand their personalities.

There is some really excellent integration of African culture. I love it when accent and colloquialisms are used in a book, and they work very well in this one. To be honest, I didn’t actually understand a lot of them (my African language knowledge is limited at best) but this didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all.

I was a bit disappointed by the ending (which I won’t give away), but it did work with the story so I can’t complain too much. Overall, a brilliant debut and I would definitely read more from this author.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a copy of My Sister, The Serial Killer from both NetGalley and Readers First in exchange for an honest review. 

Just by coincidence I was listening to a recent episode of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast - Winter books 2019 - and Ann just happened to be recommending  My Sister, The Serial Killer, saying she liked it because (and I'm paraphrasing slightly) 'it's about a complicated sisterly dynamic, a complicated relationship between two women... and the dead people are all men.' Which just made me laugh but also sums up the book really well.

Korede is a nurse living and working in Lagos. Her sister, Ayoola, is a fashion designer... and a serial killer. Because once you hit three murders that's what you become. And Korede is trying to keep her sister safe by cleaning up her messes and disposing of the bodies. Until Ayoola starts dating a doctor from Korede's work - a friend, a colleague, and a love interest of her own. Korede tries to warn him about her, but she just comes across as jealous. But when it comes down to it, can she choose between her sister and her victims?

I really did love the dynamic between Korede and Ayoola. It's obvious that there's been tension between them for a long time - sisterly competitions and little tiffs and grudges, but favouritism from parents, one 'beautiful', one 'smart' sister labels placed on them from a young age, it all adds up. But despite any resentment there might be between them, it's clear that there's also a lot of love as Korede drops everything to rush to Ayoola's aid when she says she's done it again. There's an instinct to protect her no matter what, but when she starts questioning this decision, it's really interesting to read how their relationship changes.

It also felt really realistic, in terms of the characters reactions to Ayoola, and Korede's behaviour - in that I felt myself getting frustrated and my skin was crawling at people's comments about her jealousy, and the manipulation and coercion that was going on, that just added to the emotion of the book and the atmosphere of the relationship.

An absolutely gorgeous book and I can't wait to read whatever Oyinkan Braithwaite writes next! 4 out of 5 stars.
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Just how far would you go to protect your family? Nigerian nurse Korede has been addressing that conundrum for a while, wearily cleaning up messes her vain younger sister Ayoola makes. Messes that require rubber gloves, bleach, and a working knowledge of blood removal and body disposal. Debut novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite delivers a deliciously deadpan tale that’s as bold as its bald-faced title: MY SISTER THE SERIAL KILLER. Korede and Ayoola live different lives after growing up together in a Lagos household with plenty of fissures beneath its wealthy veneer. Ayoola sashays her way through the world, calling on her older sister for help when she’s ‘forced’ to kill yet-another beau; in self-defence, of course. Korede believed Ayoola the first time – she’d witnessed the violence - but doubts are now festering, and reach crisis point when Ayoola begins to date a doctor who Korede has long had a crush on. Can she keep turning a blind eye to her deadly sister? A superb tale that fizzes with a fierce energy, adroitly blending noir, black comedy, and family drama.

[Review written for the New Zealand Listener magazine, published 19 January 2019]
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A very unique story, and definitely unlike anything I've read before! A captivating read from start to finish!
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This deliciously clever and witty read set in Nigeria tells a darkly comic tale of how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water. It’s hugely original and wonderfully entertaining, with fascinating characters that jump off the page and a pace that doesn’t let up.
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I really enjoyed Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer. The characters were well formed – believable and even meriting sympathy. One sister likes to kill, the other helps her not get caught – blood thicker than water and all that. The narrator, the non-killing sister, shares interesting observations about men, society, and what it means to protect your sister in an oppressive, abusive childhood home.

Very readable, very punchy, a well deserved 5 stars.
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Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. Korede's sister Ayoola has killed for the third time. This now makes her a serial killer. I found myself not particularity liking either of these main characters,I seem to need someone to root for,someone who does the right thing and is likeable unfortunately neither Korede or Ayoola are either of those things. However,this didn't mean that I wasn't gripped by this story.I always wanted to know weather Korede was about to spill the beans and I also liked the flashbacks to glimpses of possibilities of why Ayoola was the way she was. One of my favourite lines was "It would be more appropriate to play Brymo or Lorde,something more solemn or yearning,rather than the musical equivalent of a packet of m&m's" With lines like this it brought some lightheartedness to an otherwise very serious book! Overall I really enjoyed it,I had hoped for a different ending as it did feel kind of rushed but it was a good read.
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Lovely dark humour throughout this book and the protagonist was likeable. While there was the odd lull here and there throughout the story, there was more than enough going on to keep me interested.
 
With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.
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Summary

My Sister, The Serial Killer is captivating, much like its titular character. Ayoola is beautiful, so much so, she has no trouble finding romance. Yet every man she dates winds up dead, by her hand. Korede, her sister, cleans up afterwards – she scrubs the floors clean, removes any evidence and hides the body. She loves her sister and would do anything to protect her, yet inside there is a resentment of Ayoola’s carefree attitude, lack of remorse and her status as the family ‘favourite’. When Ayoola sets her sights on a doctor at the hospital Korede works at, one who Korede harbours feelings for, Korede must make a choice. One life for the other. 

Plot

This is very much a slow-burning book, with the murders being treated almost as a matter of course by the narrator. We see a lot of the story told as part of the present day, but also through flashbacks, with short, quick chapters transporting you to each time and place with ease. The story itself is short, but there is a lot hidden between the pages. It covers a lot of themes, yet all are subtle, and we learn a lot about the sisters’ relationship and their family dynamic. The build up to the main climax of the book is cleverly done so you never quite knew what Korede would do, despite it being told from her perspective. 

Characters

The cast of this book is quite small, with only a few characters which we get to see a lot of. Ayoola is the focal point of the book, being the eponymous serial killer but with an almost care-free attitude. Her sister, the book’s narrator Korede is almost the complete opposite – careful, quiet and hyper-aware of all her sister does. Their dynamic is fascinating and the heart of the book. I found the whole family aspect of this book to be interesting, particularly with the overbearing presence of the father who was absent the entire novel. I did find it difficult to care as much about the side characters but, as this book is about the two sisters, it did not impact the story too much. 

Final Thoughts

My Sister, The Serial Killer offers a story far departed from the typical thriller and murder books out there. It is beautifully crafted, interweaving the sister’s story with dark humour, feminist undercurrents and some integration of Nigerian culture. Instead of the gritty thrillers, it is a gentler tale of sisterhood and loyalty but with its own tension and dark turns. There is a lot that can be taken out of this book, and I would highly recommend.
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I really enjoyed this book and it has left more of an impression than a relatively brief, vaguely satirical novella has any business doing. On the surface it is a fairly easy read - quick, accessible, darkly humorous and undemandingly entertaining. But after the initial satisfying consumption I began to find it more disturbing than I first realised. Which is, of course, testament to the subtle skill of the author. The boyfriend murdering sister is perfectly drawn as the gloriously selfish, self-absorbed pretty girl who's life seems effortless and charmed. Yet for me it is Korede who is the more intriguing character, long suffering and conscience stricken, cleaning up her sister's messes with ruthless efficiency. So a story of sisterly devotion and loyalty then. Yes, but there is more to it than that. So much of the story seems to be in what's NOT said. And I loved how it suggested so many interesting questions to me - was Ayoola evil or damaged? Was Korede "just as bad" (as suggested by Tade) for covering up? Were her reasons for doing so entirely altruistic? Was it all Korede's fault at the end of the day? Was the strength of the sisters' bond forged by the violence of the father? For such a brief book, I found it incredibly thought provoking and have mulled over the sisters, their shared experiences and their relationship a lot since finishing it. Such a great read.
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As a mother of two girls. I totally understand how the bond between sisters is so tight that they will do anything to protect the other. A fabulous book, full of intrigue well written. Recommended.
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