Being the “Slayer” Every Other Day: Book Review of Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
You all are seriously in trouble with me. All those times I said, “What books should a Buffy fan read?” and not once did you say EVERY OTHER DAY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Well I am here to tell you because no one told me, go read Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes right now!
Here’s the premise: Every other day Kali D’Angelo is a . . . um, well, she’s not exactly sure. But Buffy fans might say she is this world’s version of a slayer. A hunt lust comes over her and in a world where supernatural creatures are known to exist, and killing them is against the law, Kali’s hunt fever is kind of a problem.
For 24 hours she is a skilled, supernatural hunter. The blood coursing through her veins changes and becomes a poison to the supernatural. Her senses heighten. She is da bomb baby!
The problem is that there is always the next 24 hours, when she is a regular teen age girl. It is on one of *those* days that she realizes the girl standing before her has been marked for death by a supernatural creature known as the chupacabra. It’s like a tapeworm that gets inside you and eats you from the inside out. Yummy. But unfortunately, it’s happening on the wrong day.
Soon Kalie finds herself with a group of people (a psuedo Scooby gang if you will) being hunted down by a shady scientific organization (think The Initiative). And – oh yeah – the Chupacabra inside her seems to be talking to her, which is not what they do at all to normal people.
“Here,” Bethany said, responding to the woman’s rhetorical question, “we have a teenager. And she’s pissed.”(Bethany is Cordelia, but the later deeper Cordelia, not the early Cordelia.)
Kali is a fun, well-developed, angsty, conflicted character with the perfect mix of heart (that she tries to keep hidden) and snark (a “slayer’s” preferred method of self protection):
“‘Well’, I said, smiling at the blade as I tore if from Thing 3’s throat, ‘let’s get this show on the road.’ The fact that I was talking to a knife probably said something revealing about my character and/or mental state, but the way I saw it, my weapon and I were in this together.” – p. 9
“Left with nothing but my own bloody fingertips, I let out a war cry of my own, raked my nails over its face, and fought like a girl.”
Like Buffy, our Kali has family issues. Her mother disappeared when she was 3, which is kind of an issue because she is probably the only one who can help explain to Kali what she is:
“Most of the time, it felt like my father and I were completely different species. Possibly literally, depending on the day and whether or not I actually qualified as human at the time.”
As much as Every Other Day is a fun, entertaining, demon hunting save the world romp, it is also a book that explores self-identity, family dynamics, and there are even some scientific ethics issues that come up: Just because something is different does that mean we have a right to lock them in a cage and dissect them? It seems easy to say yes if we’re talking about Hellhounds and Zombies, but we would probably feel differently if we were talking about you or someone you loved.
So look, I love this book. It was a fun read. It was a fast read. And although we won’t be sitting around years from now discussing the intellectual merits of Every Other Day and trying to present it as a piece of literary scholarship, it is not totally devoid of substance and it has subtle themes relatable to the teenage life. I mean, what teen hasn’t sat in the back of a pep rally and tried to make themselves so small they hoped they could just fold up inside themselves and disappear because they realized that High School was some bizarre version of hell: “Sometimes, I felt like if I could just fold up into a small enough ball, my body would collapse on itself like a star, and I could supernova myself into a new existence.” And to be clear, it is in fact well written and has some amazing descriptions and turns of phrases. Also, there is an ice dragon. 4 out of 5 stars and you should go read it now. This will appeal to a lot of teens (and non teens, too).
One final note: There is a character named Skylar (important, well-developed, and often steals the show) who claims to be a psychic – which everyone says is impossible because psychics don’t exist. I love that they live in a world where monsters are known and recognized but they find it hard to believe that someone could be psychic.
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (EgmontUSA ISBN: 978-1-60684-169-3) is now tied with Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride as my favorite ever Buffy read-alike. A nicer person would give away the signed copy that I just got on Saturday at the Austin Teen Book Festival, but I am not that nicer person. But if I had known it was going to be so awesome I would have gotten every copy and sent it to all the libraries. Be sure to check out our other The Sunnydale Project posts for more Buffy read-alikes.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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