Wednesday, February 19, 2020

REVIEW: Bunny by Mona Awad

Title: Bunny
Author: Mona Awad
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Horror
Publisher: Harpercollins
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Acquired: Library borrow
Goodreads: ADD

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn't be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England's Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort--a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other "Bunny," and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies' fabled "Smut Salon," and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door--ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies' sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus "Workshop" where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

What, in the floppy-eared hell, did I just read?! This book was an entirely different breed of weird, and I mean that in the most complimentary and fascinating way. It was a sub-genre mash-up of dark academia and fantastical horror, combined with metaphorical and self-reflective bits that damn near blew my whole mind. Without question, Bunny is one of the most oddly satisfying books I have ever read.

Samantha Mackey is a grad school student at Warren University. Perpetually intimidated by her peers, and making little to no progress on her work, she spends most of her days in self-sabotaging conversation with her best, and equally as dark-minded friend, Ava. Their most favoured target for mockery is a group of women on Samantha's campus who call themselves the "Bunnies". Perfectly groomed, sickeningly sweet, and irritatingly cliqué-y, the Bunnies are both a wonder and a source of frustration for Samantha, so when they extend an invitation to join them for a weekly writing session (dubbed the 'Smut Salon) at their home, she decides to feed her curiosity. The further into the Bunny hole she falls, the further away she gets from reality, and the once-cherished friendship she held with Ava. Escaping their clutches comes with a price, one that Samantha could not have seen coming.

Bunny is one of those books that can be so many different things depending on its reader. For me, it was a social commentary on the dangers of a hive-mind, especially on those who are more mentally susceptible to its mechanisms. Awad was brilliant in her choice to use fantastically horrible elements to symbolize influence and desperation. I found myself in Samantha during so many moments that I literally had to stop reading at those points. I think the best word I saw used to describe this book was "bonkers" because it was, it was absolutely insane, all while being incredibly purposeful in its madness. 

Dialogue is among the most important checkboxes for me as a reader, and unfortunately, not many authors have checked it. Awad checked it. She checked it with a gigantic, perfectly inked, checkmark. It's no easy feat to be metaphorical, symbolic, dark, AND witty. Bunny was successful in being all 4 of those things. I'd be hard-pressed to read another book like it this year.

Read if you like:

The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Key themes: 
friendship, inclusion, jealousy, hive mentality, 
loneliness, mental health 



CLICK HERE to read about Mona on her author page.


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