Before I started reading this book, all of the reviews I’d seen said something along the lines of ‘wow, this book was wild/bizarre/strange/unusual etc., etc.’ – so I went into this book knowing that something weird was going to happen, but not knowing what. Like these other reviews, I’m not going to give you more detail about why this is the case, as I think you’re best going into this novel completely fresh and unprepared. This book follows Samantha Mackey, who is studying an MFA at an elite university. She feels like an outsider in her class – she’s poorer, less put together than the ‘Bunnies’, a group of unbearable rich girls who call each other ‘Bunny’. However, at the beginning of the new school year, the Bunnies invite Samantha to one of their ‘Smut Salons’ and from there Samantha is drawn into an utterly bizarre world that she struggles to escape.
I enjoyed this book, but I would say that I think it relies quite heavily on the ‘what the fuck’ shock value – the turn from slightly unsettling to absolutely absurd comes whiplashingly quickly, and I think the momentum of this reveal carries a lot of the novel from there. It was strange, it kept me reading and I was desperate to figure out what exactly was happening. Did I? Not really. Was I left with more questions than I began with? Yes. Did I enjoy it? I think so?
The author is undoubtedly talented – this novel is disorientating by design – and she creates such an incredibly close, claustrophobic atmosphere the entire way through to add to your discomfort/confusion. However, I’m not sure that I found the characters convincing – I could accept this for the Bunnies as they are a parody of a group of popular girls (though taken to the nth degree) but I found Samantha lacking in personality. The novel tries to talk about loneliness as a theme, but I found this a bit weak and lost in all of the ‘what the hell is happening’ parts of the story. Samantha also lacks agency, which I believe the story itself actually references, but I found the way she fell in with the Bunnies too quick and easy – and when she starts witnessing weird things happening, she doesn’t doubt or question them, even right at the very beginning.
I think this would be a very divisive book – I think some people will absolutely love the absurdity of it, I think others will hate it with a passion – but I do actually find myself sitting on the fence with it. I thought it was interesting, I admire the bizarre and ‘wtf’ moments, I like that it’s different – but I also think that past the shock value, there wasn’t as much going for it as I expected, and I did find the main character unlikeable.
Would I recommend this? I think so, if only so you can read it for yourself and make up your own opinion.
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