Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Ask Malice

Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary

Robert Joseph Levy (2006)

RATING: 5/5 Stakes

SETTING: Season Three


MAJOR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS: Diana Dormer (Watcher); Faith's Mother; George Lehane (Faith's Father); Kenny (psychic & boyfriend); Vanity Collins (social worker); Alex (imaginary friend/Slayer soul?)

BACK-OF-THE-BOOK SUMMARY: "Faith has always been a loner. Growing up in a broken home in South Boston, shuffled from relative to relative, her only companion was an imaginary friend named Alex, who helped her escape into a fantasy world of monsters and the supernatural, far from the real-life horrors of the waking world. Now, taken away from her mother by social services and shipped off to a foster home, Faith learns that some nightmares are all too real, that the inventions of her childhood really do haunt the night, hungry for blood. Enter Diana Dormer, a Harvard professor and representative of the Watchers Council who has come to tell Faith of her destiny, to train her, to prepare her for what is to come: Faith is the Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. But she's not alone. When Alex, her childhood companion, returns in her dreams, she warns Faith that someone else is coming to her, a force so deadly and unforgiving that it has inspired fear in the underworld for a thousand generations. Its name is Malice. As memory and fantasy begin to merge, Faith's two worlds collide, with cataclysmic results. A violent battle for the Slayer's soul is staged, winner take all. This is her story. . . ."


The stylistic conceit behind Go Ask Malice is that it is the diary of Faith found in an archaeological expedition of Sunnydale after the end of Season Seven (though the last entry takes place just prior to Season Three). The concept works beautifully, as Faith has a strong first-person voice and seeing events from her perspective offers insight in to her character and background that would be much harder to achieve in normal third-person storytelling. The television show hinted that Faith had a troubled upbringing, but this book really fleshes it out as we encounter Faith's frequently-absent mother (who becomes a prostitute), her incarcerated father, her bouncing around foster homes, and more. We're also introduced to Faith's first Watcher, Professor Diana Dormer and learn much more about the backstory of Kakistos, the demon responsible for killing Dormer and driving Faith out of Boston. Kakistos was polished off in a single episode in Buffy (and probably wasn't handled very well), but here the demon has a nice menacing aura and build-up through prophetic dreams that Faith is having. The fact that the reader already knows that Kakistos kills Dormer lends a pall of impending tragedy over the book that works very well because the reader is constantly kept guessing as to how and when it'll happen.

Suffice it to say, Go Ask Malice is a very dark book--something the too-sacharine Buffy novel line desperately needed. If you only like happy endings or can't stand Faith, this isn't the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it (and hope the author can get talked into writing some stories for the Buffy comic).

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