I had read about this book online previously via Waterstones (yes, I’m one of THOSE people who has email alerts about new and promising books) and thought it looked interesting. Although it had excellent reviews from Waterstones, everywhere else the reviews seem fairly mixed.
The main character, Korede is an underappreciated and overlooked woman who has spent much of her life being constantly overshadowed by her sister. Ayoola is beautiful, vivacious and worshipped by all who encounter her….she is everything her older sister Korede is not.
Unfortunately, Ayoola has a dreadful habit of killing whoever she happens to be seeing romantically at that time. Korede is always left to pick up the pieces until Ayoola’s object of interest happens to be the man Korede is in love with and desperately wishes would notice her. Suddenly, Korede’s conscience catches up with her and she is torn between family values and following her heart to protect the man she loves.
I really enjoyed this book and was absorbed completely from the very first page. It seemed to be quite a quick book, possibly because it is shorter than others (only 240 pages) and with short chapters or because the story itself is very fast moving.
I think the term ‘serial killer’ is used quite loosely in the story and although Ayoola does display some characteristics of a serial killer such as lack of empathy and a sudden change in mood, it could also be argued that these qualities are in fact due to the fact that she is just a spoilt and self-absorbed individual.
I really liked the setting. It is fairly unusual to read thrillers which are set in Nigeria so I enjoyed the references to locations and cultural aspects which the author is clearly familiar with, being from the same place.
Occasionally, some of the language was slightly unusual such as ‘she considered this for as long as it takes paper to burn’ and Nigerian words referenced in the speech but it all adds to the atmospheric and wonderfully created dimension by Braithwaite.
There are opportunities for critical thinking with various themes in the story such as the revelations regarding the girls’ father. Could this be part of the reason why Ayoola has become the person she is?
Even Korede’s character could be called in to question with such an interesting contrast with the person she appears to be and to some extent alot of her actions. She protects her sister and is consistently loyal but there are also other actions which could be likened to those of Ayoola, specifically towards the end of the book which make for interesting interpretations.
The ending felt a little disappointing and definitely lacked finality. However, it was interesting to see the development of the characters and to witness the conclusion of all the events.
Overall, I think this story may resonate for many as you question what you would do in that situation. If the person you loved the most committed a crime and needed help, would you turn them away? Or roll your sleeves up and start scrubbing away the evidence?