Blair's Reviews > Bunny

Bunny by Mona Awad
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2019-release, macabre-slipstream-weird, contemporary, read-on-kindle, edelweiss, secret-history-esque

Samantha is a graduate student with writer's block. She's from a poor background and doesn't really fit in at moneyed Warren University, where her four workshop partners have formed an insular clique. They call themselves the Bunnies – they literally all call each other 'Bunny' – and their conversations are studded with declarations of love, cliched Instagram-hashtag phrases and sycophantic compliments on the brilliance and originality of one another's work. From the sidelines, Samantha finds it nauseating, even as she nurses a deep envy.

Something's off about Warren from the beginning. Though it's an Ivy League school, its environs are plagued by frequent incidences of extreme violence (random decapitations, for example). It made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sunnydale – with all the weirdness erupting around Warren, there has to be something Hellmouth-ish about this place. As seen through Samantha's eyes, the Bunnies are putting on a grotesque pantomime act as simpering sorority sisters, their cutesy, indulgent personalities taken to such extremes that they cross over into horror. And when Samantha is finally invited to join the club, she discovers exactly how far and how deep that horror goes.

The main problem with Bunny is Samantha's best friend, Ava. The way she speaks to Samantha is, I guess, intended as appealingly blunt – an antidote to the Bunnies' cloying, insincere sweetness – but it just comes off as nasty most of the time. An 'art school drop-out' who carries a flask of alcohol labelled 'Drink Me', says things like 'the breeze is my lover' and goes around wearing a fishnet veil, she's basically the 10 most insufferable hipsters you've ever met combined into one person. As it turns out, there are reasons for Ava's bluntness and clicheness, but I'm not convinced her appearances are meant to be as irritating as I found them.

On the other hand, the Bunnies are ostensibly the villains, but they're great, such fun to read about. A mean girl clique subverted; identikit teen-drama bitches given agency, wit and dark appetites. They may be awful, but they're awful in such novel ways – airheads who are fiercely intelligent, saccharine child-women who revel in power and blood – that I loved them. The hallucinatory chapter in which Samantha submits to the Bunnies' hivemind is probably the best segment of the book: trippy, dreamlike, creepy as fuck. I wanted more of the Bunnies, more of Samantha-and-the-Bunnies, and less Samantha-on-her-own, less Ava. (Preferably no Ava at all.)

The blurb positions Bunny as 'The Vegetarian meets Heathers', which is maybe more useful than accurate: the reference to The Vegetarian serves as a handy indicator of how incredibly weird it is, but tells you nothing about the story. Personally, I'd say Bunny reminded me of Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics crossed with the craziest, most far-fetched parts of David Mitchell's Slade House, and I'd be inclined to reference Buffy and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina instead of Heathers. It also made me think of Katie Lowe's The Furies, which in some ways is the inverse of this novel – grimly, disgustingly real where Bunny is all bizarro Technicolor – but both are about young women experimenting with black magic, and both are full to bursting with lush, overblown prose.

It's just so much, but in a good way. And I would love to see a film or TV adaptation. My mouth is watering just imagining the luxuriant excess and creative gore of this story on screen.

I received an advance review copy of Bunny from the publisher through Edelweiss.

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Reading Progress

February 7, 2019 – Shelved
May 13, 2019 – Started Reading
May 14, 2019 –
page 87
May 15, 2019 –
page 156
May 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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