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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

This review contains light spoilers.

Bunny, published in 2019 and author Mona Awad’s second book, is a little bit like a wild animal; enticing with its mysteriousness before it sinks its teeth into you and doesn’t let go. A brilliant satire of the mean-girl trope and dissolution of the lines between clique and cult, Awad produces stone-cold genius in every single line. Her prose is so exact in its descriptions that the uneasiness remains long after the page is turned. Mixing the black comedy of Heathers with the archetypes of Mean Girls with easy prowess, Bunny is a novel both grimly humorous and slightly horrifying, and will likely leave you thanking your lucky stars that your friend group isn’t a cult.

The novel’s narrator, Samantha Mackey, is a kind of anti-hero, and fans of My Year of Rest and Relaxation will immediately draw a parallel to the protagonist. In her final year at a small New England graduate school, Samantha’s desire to be a writer does not outweigh her desire to spend her time doing everything but writing. Her inability to put words on the page is made worse by the group she shares her creative writing class with, a clique of four girls whose sole purpose in life is to dote and bestow such elaborate compliments upon each other that Samantha refuses to believe it isn’t an act. Her resentment towards them is exacerbated by their writing projects, pretentious and silly in Samantha’s eyes, but regarded as a profound creative genius by their professor.

The girls in the clique call each other “Bunny,” their exclusive nickname which each member dramatically overuses. They mirror the domesticated version of the animal in every way; coquettish, sickly sweet, and banded together by some kind of animal intuition. Awad’s choice to compare the trope of girl groups to a traditionally innocent animal is an intentional double-edged sword, however, as readers come to understand the Bunnies as less of a clique and more of a cult, their acts of violence in the name of creativity and divine inspiration careering towards a complete absence of morality. Their creative “projects,” without spoiling too much, are incredibly ironic interpretations of their desires, firmly confirming that the Bunnies are indeed insane.

There exists a mutual distaste between the Bunnies and Samantha in the first half of the book; she views them as the human embodiments of a toothache from eating too many sweets, and in turn, they view her as sad and pathetic, more succinctly. When Samantha is invited to a “Smut Salon” at one a Bunny’s house (I’ll let you read the book to find out exactly what that entails), much to her surprise, she is imbued with a strange sense of jealousy at their seemingly perfect, codependent friendships, accepting another invitation before slowly being adopted into their group. Things only get more out of hand as Samantha comes to understand the implications of being a Bunny, and what exactly goes on in the chiffon shadows of their midnight seances.

Without ruining the novel’s shock factor, there are exploding heads, fake proms, a weird amount of miniature food, and a boy that is essentially a replica of JD from Heathers. And bunnies, of course. Lots of bunnies. With perfect pacing, it possesses an ending you have to read to believe—I read this book with the same morbid fascination as someone who can’t look away from a car crash.

The writing in this book is razor-sharp, each sentence carefully constructed to elicit a laugh or cringe. The school is cleverly named Warren, Samantha’s middle name is Heather, and the list of small references and slick allusions goes on. But Awad’s real gift is the intersection of the relatable with the absurd, employing themes every girl knows all too well with situations so ridiculous they’re almost too insane to be fabricated. The latter half of the book feels like a fever dream, and practically is—Samantha finds herself way over her head and unable to extricate herself from the drug of the Bunnies’ friendship.

Killing two birds (or bunnies?) with one stone, Bunny also offers up a critique of the elitist writer trope, gently criticizing the usual discourse around creative writing degrees and small private colleges. Awad plays upon these tropes and drags them to extremes, making the Bunnies’ dedication to gothic lit and “intertextuality” ridiculous, the pretentiousness laughable. That their projects are all iterations of men from classic literature, a well-endowed Heathcliff or modern Mr. Darcy is genius, in my opinion, and a choice that reflects Awad’s own critique of the idealization and preciousness of the liberal arts. Being a fan of the “mysterious New England liberal arts murder genre with hot and misunderstood characters” myself, Awad’s satire was spot-on and yet unserious, a tone the entire book seems to pull off effortlessly.

Bunny is Mean Girls on psychedelics. Awad navigates the theme of toxic friendship with humor and jarring clarity, and I particularly love that it takes place in a graduate college setting, moving beyond the traditional high school setting and showing its applicability for women in their mid 20s. It’s a commentary on how far we go to feel like we belong, and an utterly bizarre book which I would recommend to everyone. 

Grace Roberts

St. Andrews '24

Grace is a fourth-year at the University of St Andrews, studying English and Comparative Literature. She's from New Jersey and loves to travel (the more mountainous, the better), talk all things design and lifestyle, and give unsolicited skincare recommendations. She can usually be found practicing restraint in bookstores, using the em dash to excess, or perfecting her french toast recipe in the free time she actually doesn't have.