Book Review: Bunny

Bunny is a genre-bending novel about an MFA student, Samantha, who feels very much like an outsider to the rest of her fiction-writing cohort. The other girls in the cohort are cliquey, rich, and cutesy, and they refer to each other as “Bunny” – all of which repulses Samantha. But when the Bunnies invite Samantha to their “Smut Salon,” Samantha finds herself inexplicably drawn to their precious world. Behind the Bunnies’ charm, however, there is a sinister darkness; and as Samantha becomes increasingly involved with the Bunnies, she begins to lose herself.

The book: Bunny by Mona Awad
Genre: Contemporary fiction/satire/horror
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The best description of Bunny that I can give is Heathers meets Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein meets Stephen King. It’s a very disorienting story that takes several unexpected twists and turns, with some revelations that completely reframe the entire narrative. Because the novel is intentionally disorienting, a lot of things are up to interpretation – I finished Bunny a few days ago and am still bouncing between different potential interpretations of certain scenes. This type of novel won’t be for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it.

A major reason why Bunny worked so much for me is because the writing is hilariously self-aware. My favorite example of this is a scene where one of the Bunnies criticizes her fellow classmate’s story for being too vague, exclaiming: Um, what the fuck is this please? This makes no sense. This is coy and this is willfully obscure and no one but [the author] will ever get this…TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED. TELL ME WHAT THE FUCK THIS MEANS.” This could be said of Bunny itself, and I love that Awad acknowledged that. Awad also gently makes fun of the self-importance of graduate students, the weird dynamics of female friend groups, and the way that millennials give ridiculously exaggerated compliments. I felt so seen and so hilariously called out.

I also enjoyed Bunny‘s genre-bending nature. Awad takes on horror, satire, humor, psychological explorations, and more – and she does it all with skill and self-awareness. There are moments where the prose borders on pretentious, but I thought the hints of pretentiousness were perfect for a story narrated by a grad student in a prestigious MFA program.

Bunny was infinitely weirder than I had expected, but I really enjoyed it. If you’re okay with “WTF-just-happened” stories, I highly recommend this book. And I recommend going in with as few expectations as possible, to really let the story take you on its wild ride.

Author: Hannah Celeste

Hi! I'm Hannah, a book-blogger from the Northeastern United States. I enjoy reading many genres, cooking and baking, doing yoga, and spending time with my two cats.

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Bunny”

  1. I enjoy genre-bending literature as well! Can’t quite picture what a mix between Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein and Stephen King would be like. There is ‘good weird’ which makes you think and ‘bad weird’ which is just terrible. Glad this one belonged to the former.

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  2. This is up next on my TBR (my name is almost up at the eBook library!) and I’m so intrigued – the self-awareness and tongue-in-cheek nature of it with the weird and wonderful genre flip-flopping – and all set in an MFA program – great review, I’m excited to read it!

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  3. MFA programs CAN be super weird and cliquish. And if you go to the type of program at which people are likely to have money, everything can fall apart from there — you don’t have to have money to get into a good program (likely, the tuition is waived), but if students don’t receive a stipend, the wealth gap is enormously obvious. I knew people in my program who were taking out credit cards and/or student loans just to keep up with everyone else who had money to travel, party, etc..

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    1. Oh that’s interesting that you bring up the wealth inequality among MFA students – that was a significant component of Samantha’s disconnect from the other students in this novel! She was on scholarship and struggling to make ends meet, while the other girls lived really posh lifestyles. That must have been one of the most realistic aspects of this story (although I also liked most of the horrifying, not-so-realistic aspects of the book too).

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      1. When I did my MFA I barely had gas to get to class, but tuition was waived. I was teaching three courses in addition to attending my program full time, and there was a rule that if they caught you working, you could be let go (they wanted everyone to focus on their school work). So, if that’s the case, I could either take out tons of loans or be sneaky.

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        1. That is such a tough choice to have to make! Which did you end up choosing (no worries if you don’t feel comfortable answering)? Two things that surprised me in grad school were 1) the no working outside of the department rule, and 2) grad students have to pay “student fees” for services that generally only the undergraduate students use (sporting events, gym membership, some super vague fees with no clear purpose). The fees especially surprised me for grad students on teaching/research assistantships, because it was essentially paying ~$300 a month to work.

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          1. I didn’t take out any additional loans. I took out loans for my undergrad and then sort of got backed into a corner and paid for the first year of my master’s degree. Then, the second year, I was a grad assistant and got my tuition waived and earned a stipend. Then, it was 2008 (*ominous music*) and I entered an MFA program. I had my tuition waived, but no stipend (at the time, Notre Dame only gave stipends to PhD candidates). I didn’t pay any student fees. My husband couldn’t get a job because it was 2008 and then ended up working a part-time job that didn’t pay well. I took on two comp classes at one nearby university and a lit course at a different college. Then, I was taking two courses of my own and a third that’s meant to give you time to write your thesis, but for me totally went to teaching. I refused to get a FAFSA loan to live on because I couldn’t even see a future in which I lived long enough to pay back what I already owed (between $40-50,000). We were young enough that I was worried we would get a loan and blow that money living a more comfy life, yet old enough to be aware of the pending problem should I get a loan. We ended up selling things and eat a lot of PopTarts and dragging our carcasses through two years. Then, right when I graduated, my spouse got a job at the IT help desk at Notre Dame, a university that is basically in an economic bubble, and we haven’t left since.

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            1. Haha I giggled out loud at “it was 2008 (*ominous music*). But in seriousness, your decision makes a lot of sense, and I’m glad it worked out for you and your spouse. Teaching 3 classes, taking classes, AND working on your thesis at the same time sounds intense.

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  4. Great review! I read this one last month and had a lot of similar thoughts about it- it’s such a weird and wonderful book! It seems to be rather polarizing so I’m glad to see it worked pretty well for you too! 🙂

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  5. Great review! This is really high up my TBR, and I feel like I’ll like this one. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for weird, dark, WTF-JUST-HAPPENED metafictional stories. Your description of it had me extra intrigued too, since I can’t even begin to imagine “Heathers meets Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein meets Stephen King”!

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