Bunny by Mona Awad (she/her)

Bunny by Mona Awad (she/her)

The rundown:

Samantha Heather Mackey is a member of the first all-female fiction writing cohort of Warren University’s elite MFA program, and she couldn’t be more of an outsider, preferring the company of her own dark imagination to that of pretty much anyone else. The rest of her cohort are a clique of alarmingly close, twee rich girls known as the Bunnies, who seem to act and speak as one. They coo about how much they love each other’s writing; they pet each other with their soft, pink hands; they’re ignorant of Samantha’s disdain. Everything changes, though, when Samantha is invited to the Bunnies’ famed “Smut Salon,” and she ditches her only friend, semi-Goth cynic Ava, to attend. The edges of reality begin to blur as Samantha falls deeper into the Bunnies’ saccharine yet increasingly sinister world, where they bring their fantasies to disturbing, bloody life in creative “Workshops.” Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies collide, violently.


The review:

This book is ‘80s classic film Heathers meets 1996 The Craft plus a hefty dash of Alice in Wonderland, heavy on the acid, set in a graduate program. On the surface, it’s a dark comedic satire of the horrors of an MFA program. Anyone who’s experienced the delights - said with so much sarcasm - of an MFA program (or any graduate program, really) will appreciate Awad’s absolute skewering of academic pretension. Bunny also delivers on an exploration of female friendships - the fear, obsession, and power dynamics of cliques with the Bunnies contrasted with the equally strange vulnerabilities of super-close one-on-one friendship with Ava. Awad’s writing is sharp and biting, and there’s no doubt that the woman knows how to use figurative language to great effect (“their eyes taking us in like little mouths sipping strange drinks”). Bunny is smart and compelling and funny, yes. It’s also terrifying. It will leave you, jaw unhinged, pondering one final, vital question: did Samantha Heather Mackey imagine the whole thing? 

Goes well with:

If you loved Bunny as much as I did, you may likewise feel compelled to immediately run to Awad’s latest novel, All’s Well (named after the Shakespeare play). As for other recommendations, it depends on what exactly it is that you’re wanting more of. If it’s the dark academia aspect, then check out Donna Tartt’s The Secret History or We Wish You Luck by Caroline Zancan. For more surreal, women descending-into-madness books, I recommend giving A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan or Boy Parts by Eliza Clark a shot.