Review: #FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

3:47 PM

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar | Reviews: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

Don't let my two start rating lure you into a false comfort--this novel was deliciously evil and is the textbook definition of guilty pleasure. It's witty and biting, it's dark and disturbing, it's utterly stylish and blasé while hitting certain topics right on the nose. It is fun and vicious.

#FashionVictim is highly reminiscent of Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer and I love it all the more for this reason. The story begins at a Vogue-like office setting; paired with one deliriously messed up narrator, Anya, and her Blake Lively-esque co-worker, Sarah, who Anya not only wants to be BFFs with, but who she also--ahem--stalks. And this is only the beginning.

At its core, the novel is about wishing for something more. Also high-fashion and murder. In other words: readers are in for a wildly absurd ride that they are either going to love or hate. Much like Anya's worship or kill tactics... there are no inbetweens for reader and #FashionVictim.

Let's start with the positives of #FashionVictim, shall we?

Anya is a highly violent wildcard, armed with a passion for fashion and intelligence, and is almost the perfect match for another chilled-to-the-bone literary killer: Joe Goldberg from Caroline Kepnes' You. The similarities are there from the start and God help us all if they were to ever cross paths. Anya is chilling, end sentence. You almost--almost--find yourself rooting for her in the moments of delusion she showcases and that is unsettling.

I loved how Amina Akhtar hit all the right notes on criticizing the fashion industry, in her satire, and how toxic certain work environments can be, with or without killers lurking. She tosses in some very relevant topics for good measure and it almost creates a pretty decent balance.

One of the creepier elements of the novel is Anya seeing her victims at various points throughout the novel. This is a nod to how out of touch with reality she is and it adds another layer of terror to what is happening all around us. Tied into how intelligent she is, how sneaky and manipulative we see her to be, and how the novel sets up its endgame, it just adds an extra kick to every kill and every little mishap.

Anya is the ultimate unreliable narrator. You have a sense of what she is going to do next, what she is capable of. It's the aftermath that makes everything more interesting. Her lack of empathy is as enthralling and it is horrifying. I loved and hated her. I was terrified and intrigued which, I hope, is exactly what Amina Akhtar intended while crafting Anya.

As for the less-than-stellar parts of the novel: #FashionVictim reads a little chaotic. Which could be for one of two reasons. (1) It's meant to match Anya's mental standing or (2) My ARC was just very sloppy and unedited. I wasn't all too keen on this either way and it made many parts of the novel seem messy and disjointed, and sometimes unnecessary.

Which in turn made it drag on longer than I cared for.

The trick to enjoying #FashionVictim is to not take it seriously and indulge a little in the tone. If I were to rate the novel solely on entertainment, I would be giving it a solid 4 stars out of 5. I think it accomplished the entertainment aspect perfectly, even as it hit lower notes and dragged on. Problematic elements and all.

Yet, if I were rating the book in all other terms, I'd probably give it a mere 1.5 star out of 5, because the writing left a lot to be desired and could have been something much bigger than it was.

Amina is not a bad writer by any means, there is just a lot about #FashionVictim that made me wonder how much it had been edited. With that being said, I need to stress that the copy of this book I received WAS a galley and the finished product is likely much more polished.

While it wasn't my favourite novel of the year and it could have been better, in my opinion, it was still a book that I wanted to stick with and finished relatively quickly.

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