Book: My Sister the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
The title of this book was intriguing enough to make me want to read it despite mixed reviews. In fact, many of my favourite book reviewers didn’t give it a great rating. yet I had to check it out for myself.
This is the story of two sisters Korede and Ayoola. Korede is a nurse. She’s the no-nonsense, practical, responsible older sister. Ayoola is the stunningly beautiful younger one. In complete contrast to Korede she’s irresponsible and vain and also her mom’s favourite. In fact, she’s everyone’s favourite, the centre of attention, always. One day Ayoola calls Korede in a panic, saying she had stabbed her boyfriend. She insists it was in self-defence. Korede rushes over and cleans up the crime scene. When this happens the third time round, Korede realises Ayoola is a serial killer.
Meanwhile Korede has a crush on her colleague, Tade, who also appreciates her for her efficinecy. One day Ayoola drops by her nursing home and Tade is captivated. Familiar with the fate that Ayoola’s boyfreinds meet, Korede is dismayed. She tries to warn Tade, to no avail.
I’ll leave you to figure out what happens next.
First things first – I maintain that this was a great story idea. It had enough intrigue to pull in any reader. Also, the book was a quick easy read. The author had a story to tell and she went about it in a no-pretence, direct way.
Oyinkan Braithwaite builds up her charcaters well. While Korede was likebale and believable, Ayoola was intriguing. Unusual protagonists (like Ayoola) make for great stories, however, they need strong backstories to support their unusual behaviour. Or else they stand in danger of being dismissed as random and unbelievable.
That’s where My Sister could have done better.
The biggest drawback of My Sister the Serial Killer is the lack of a credible backstory.
There is mention of abuse by Korede and Ayoola’s father but it was vague and hurried. There’s talk of a knife which apparently had great significance for their father as well as for Ayoola. She uses that same knife to stab her boyfriends.
I wondered why Korede couldn’t take it away, specially when she’s aware of the power it holds over Ayoola. Her attempts are half-hearted at best. ‘Maybe I should take the knife’ she says to Ayoola, almost as if she is embarrassed to refer to the stabbings, as if they weren’t huge catastrophic events that needed prevenion at all cost.
Korede, in fact remains the bigger mystery in that she gets the full significance of Ayoola’s actions, yet doesn’t do anything to stop her.
Ayoola was a sociopath so while her actions are bizarre, at least one knew what to expect from her. But Korede was a puzzle. She obsesses about the people Ayoola kills, she is terrified she and Ayoola will be caught. In the beginning of the book when faced by the police she’s extremely nervous and yet, in the end, when confronted by the police, she is calm and collected even though the victim is someone she knows and loves.
I get that she has always been protective of the younger Ayoola and of course the situation is too bizarre for anyone to really know how one would react, however to me Korde’s character lacked consistency.
I would have liked to know what made Ayoola the way she was. What made the otherwise strong and capable Korede unable to thwart Ayoola? Why did she let herself be pushed around by Ayoola and her mother? I wanted a more detailed back story.
Also, the most baffling part, Oyinkan Braithwaite talks of her novel as a ‘funny’ read — ‘People say they read it and laughed’ she says in an interview. That was the strangest bit. I found nothing laughable in the book.
Last thought: A great story idea but didn’t work for me.