Angela S. Choi is my kind of sicko. Faced with the perennial problem of the Asian American fictioneer — how to rep the aZn without crapping out another crab-eating, mother-daughter triumph — Choi’s solution was: just add serial killer.
We meet the heroine of her debut novel, Fiona Yu, attempting to take her own virginity with a silicone dildo. Detecting no hymen, Fi decides to have one constructed. A 28-year-old libido-free lawyer who lives with her parents, Fi begins to unspool her rather profound issues when her plastic surgeon turns out to be her long-lost childhood friend Sean Killroy. Sean’s, er, serial approach to conquering inferiority empowers Fi to stand up to her demanding father and his series of inappropriate prospective husbands. Fi’s complicity, in turn, empowers Sean to start offing barflies and prostitutes. The novel achieves terrific energy through the fragile balance between Fi and Sean’s absurdly murderous doings and the more serious childhood abuse that drives them. But as an attempt to deconstruct a clichéd genre, Hello Kitty Must Die ultimately fails. The novel’s pushy parents, loser Asian suitors and salvation in the form of a handsome white man don’t critique, but rather reinforce, stereotypes. As fun as Hello Kitty is, I hope her next book is more thoughtful.