Bunny by Mona Awad

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I don’t usually give half stars on this blog, but I went back and forth between three and four stars for so long on this one that I decided to make an exception. I’m not entirely sure what to say about Bunny. I think I liked it? It was a lot weirder than I expected. I heard it described as Heathers meets dark academia, and that sort of fits but not quite. There are also elements of magical realism and metafiction. These are both genres I tend to have a difficult time with, so my mixed feelings are understandable. If you’re not a fan of those, be warned.

My favorite part of this book was Awad’s hilarious and spot on satire of a creative writing MFA program. I’ve never been in a MFA program before, but two of my roommates are and I’ve heard stories from them about pretentious people and inane workshop feedback. Awad takes these and dials them up to one hundred. I absolutely died laughing during the workshop scenes. One of the Bunnies, Eleanor (aka the Duchess), only writes proems etched onto glass with a diamond. The professor encourages them to “engage the Body” in their writing. The Bunnies give nonsensical nothingness like “it needs more bounce” and “it’s sad in the best way” as feedback. Meanwhile our narrator, Samantha sits there wanting to scream. It’s absurd, but if my roommates told me tomorrow that this happened in their workshop, I’d believe them.

The characters are highly unlikable, but I found myself delighted with the Bunnies anyway. They’re awful and I would hate to know them in real life, but they’re so fun! While they each have a few differentiating characteristics, they don’t have distinct personalities, and that’s the point. They are a creepy and cult-like collective, and Awad captures that perfectly. There is an especially excellent section toward the middle of the book that is written entirely in the plural first person, and I lived for it! I wish it had lasted longer. I was not nearly as taken with Samantha and her best friend, Ava. Samantha basically does nothing and just lets herself be dragged around by other people, which is part of the point. But it was so frustrating! She’s so “poor me” all the time. And Ava has a serious case of “not like other girls.” I understood why by the end, but it didn’t make it any less odious to read. That’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to give anything away.

Unsurprisingly considering the magical realism and metafiction, the book left me confused. There are so many bizarre things happening, and most of it is never given a proper explanation. The climax was the particularly difficult part for me; I felt I had a solid grasp on things until then. Again, I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to include spoilers, but events and revelations happen in a flash and I still don’t really know what happened. I think some people will love this about the book, but other people will despise it. I’m somewhere in the middle. I didn’t hate it, and I do think I liked the book as a whole, but I was definitely left scratching my head.

Overall, Bunny is a well-written and fascinating but incredibly strange and slippery book. If that sounds like your kind of thing, definitely give it a go. Just pick it up with an open mind and prepare yourself for surrealism.

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