By Evan Kingston
Paperback serial novellas, 331 pages total
2013, Evan Kingston
I received these books for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
From the book: Alex Bledsoe would rather die than reveal her secret crush. As a star of TV’s #1 family drama, she’s certain coming out of the closet would end her career. Worse still, her one true love is America’s hottest young actress, Lissa Blaine, who just happens to play her older, prettier, and smarter big sis each week on Koop’s Kitchen. Desperate for an outlet each night after filming wraps, Alex closes the shades on her trailer and reads slash stories on internet fan-fiction forums: trashy little tales written by viewers about an imagined romance between her character and Lissa’s. All unbelievable moans and trite whispers, the fantasies are so incestuously metafictional, Alex believes them best taken to her grave—until an anonymous author begins to post violent slash stories. As Alex struggles to decide whether she is turned on or disturbed, Koop’s Kitchen’s real-life actors start dying in suspiciously similar scenes. Sure that the parallels are more than coincidence, she begins to search the stories for suspects and clues instead of steamy caresses. But as she works to catch the killer before he slashes again, Alex realizes that revealing the secrets she’d die to hide might be the only way to save the lives of everyone she loves.
Let me just say, real quick, I opted for a physical copy of this set because I wanted the seven little novels with the slash cutouts and neon pages. The handmade booklets are a fun addition to my library.
This series is described by the author as “a metafictional erotic thriller / comedic murder mystery / romantic slasher” but I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Slash does seem to poke fun at both fanfiction and the entertainment industry – though I think I missed many of the jokes. Overall, the story is almost written like a fanfiction, about characters on a TV show, in which the main character reads fanfiction about the characters on her show. It’s like…fanfiception.
Normally, when I find a book funny, it means I let out little chuckles here and there. There was one stand out line in this book that really had me laughing: “His legs were like tree trunks which grew out of the blacktop to bear bulbous ass-fruit…” Yes, ass-fruit. Wonderful!
One of my peeves was the way Alex was portrayed as awkward – this was conveyed mostly through her crying a lot and making weird noises. She once says “blurt” which made me laugh because I can’t imagine someone uttering “blurt” instead of “uhm” or “ah” if they can’t think of anything to say. Her favorite awkward phrase is “wah” however – which also seems unnatural and was hard to reconcile in my mind. Mostly what I thought of was the sound Wario makes.
Sadly there were some editing mistakes – the one that stuck out the most was where a conversation between Alexis and Lissa was interrupted by the start of that conversation all over again. The scene duplicated itself for about almost a whole page, before finally progressing. It pulled me out of the story and left me quite confused until I was able to figure out what was going on.
The revelation of the murderer was underwhelming and predictable, but perhaps that was intentional. One line from the book describes Alex as “…investigating with the same abused interest with which one suffers through a poorly written mystery: barely caring about who was already dead in the scenes that lay before her, she just needed to know who did it all in the end.” The story was clearly poking fun at itself here and once again made me wonder if the whole thing is a joke. I was constantly guessing at the author’s intent.
The story was wrapped up with a vague and unfulfilling ending, but it was reminiscent of some fanfiction I’ve read where it seems the writer is impatient to end their tale, or perhaps couldn’t think of how to end it so they hastily try to tie up all the loose ends.
Overall, I think if you’re a big fanfiction reader, this story will resonate more with you. There were definitely a lot of tropes here, and I’m willing to bet most were intentional. It also gave me a little nostalgia, thinking about when I used to write fanfiction in high school – nothing wrong with that!