Bunny | Review
Rating - ⭐1/2
"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."
Bunny is a standalone horror novel by Mona Awad.
I knew going into this that I was either going to love this or hate it; there is no in-between. I also had certain expectations about this that did worry me. I knew the characters were probably going to be unlikable, and that it was going to get weird and maybe disturbing.
And, uh, it certainly nailed all those expectations alright, and I was right to be worried because I did not like this...at all.
Let's get into the details.
Among the many things I disliked about the book, we have the writing. I did not like the way the story was told in this as I found it rather offputting. I was just struggling to grasp what was going on because of all the chaos, but I will get more into that later. There are a lot of italics that represented Samantha's internal thoughts and mental conversations, and it just added to the chaos.
I also didn't like how almost every character was referred to by a nickname. Not only did it just make it more complicated to remember each character, but when it came to the Bunnies it was made a whole lot worse because they ended up merging into one figure. I just wasn't able to easily grasp who was who and, as such, I didn't know what was going on most of the time.
Finally, after a while as well, having to read the word bunny over and over again really starts to grate on your nerves. Bunny was mentioned at least two times per page which...is a lot.
Is this a weird story, yes, though I don't think I disliked it for that reason in particular? I, as you can tell, didn't enjoy this, but the reason why I didn't was mainly the way it was written. I already talked about this a bit in the previous section, but there were plot elements that, again while they were weird and kind of disturbing, were just not great to read about. Those elements being the intense focus on sexual imagery and the underlying implications (and kind of disturbing ones too) involving that.
I was unsure whether or not to go into more specifics about those implications as I was worried they would be considered spoilers, but it is alluded to in the synopsis already so I might as well and go ahead. I am talking about beastiality here which, you know, is odd to have to read about, to say the least. It isn't outright addressed but it is implied.
Moving on though, the story relies on too much unreliableness, if that makes sense, which made me not connect with the story because I couldn't trust the narrative. I will get more into this in the next section, but the way the author developed or created Samantha as a character really impacted how I took in the story. It just made it very difficult for me to get into the story, along with a laundry list of other reasons.
There were also several small details that threw me off. They could have added to the atmosphere if they amounted to anything, but mentions of things like beheadings in town stuck me as odd. There is also a whole subplot regarding her and someone she refers to as the Lion which...was both concerning due to the nature of the relationship and, again, didn't add much to the narrative.
On the whole, there were just a lot of elements in this story that I don't get why they were there. There were several moments in this book that made me stop and go 'why, why did that have to be mentioned at all?' The entire story didn't make much sense to me as all the subplots and little details didn't add up to make a cohesive story. Again, a lot of those details had implications that weren't great either and it really made me wonder what was going on in this author's head.
Samantha, oh Samatha, you made no sense to me. I just don't get her character at all because, as the driving force of the story, she is supposed to be clearly fleshed out, aside from the unreliableness, but she wasn't. Samatha gets unwillingly yet willingly coerced into the Bunnies, and the bizarreness that is this story progresses from there.
I found that there was a lot about Samantha that was being hidden from the reader. For one, she is a pathological liar, which presented a huge issue for me as I have already mentioned because I don't like unreliable characters. In her mind, her life was so boring that she felt the need to lie about everything and anything in order to make herself seem more interesting. As such, I found her incredibly frustrating to have to read about.
I found there was a lot of context missing regarding Samantha. The way she interacts with people and her bitterness wasn't explained very well. Her motivation for going along with the Bunnies also made no sense to me. She did not like the Bunnies, so why did she go along with them despite that? She spent the majority of the book hating them behind their backs but still pretending to be friends with them. If this was all to make her life more exciting then I don't think that was a particularly great character motivation.
As for the Bunnies well, despite their nicknames and some defining characteristics, they all kind of just blended together. They were like one single unit rather than a group of people, and that could have been the intention but in my mind, if I can't distinguish between the characters then that is a problem. It also kind of threw individuality out the window in favour of some Shining twins moments but...they didn't work and it only made things harder to grasp.
I was hoping that this, against all odds, would be a win for me. It really wasn't though because this was an absolute fever dream of a book but in the worst way. I honestly had no idea what was going on for the majority of the book, and I chalk that up to this book being a bit of a chaotic mess and not me just not understanding it.
It is weird, it is meant to be weird...but there was just too much about the way the story was written that was very offputting.