Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review: Sunshine, or, The One Where Vampires Aren't (That) Sexy

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Pages: 405
Publisher: Jove
Release Date: September 1st, 2003
Author WebsiteRobin McKinley

Cover Comments: The cover is really nice and atmospheric, and ties into the story with the setting. However, I think that it gives off a super serious vampire book vibe, when in reality, Sunshine is a pretty chattery, sort of sarcastically funny narrator.

First Lines: “It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn't that dumb. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.”

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her...


Ever since I read Robin McKinley's Beauty and the Blue Sword, I've been hooked. I love McKinley's style of writing and her ability to write stories that keep me entranced. If you've read her previous work, Sunshine is a bit of a departure from her usual style. The story revolves around Rae, aka, Sunshine, who decides to take a trip to her grandmother's old house by the lake and has the misfortune of being abducted by vampires. The plot thickens when she is taken by the vampires to an old house and chained to the wall within reach of a mysterious vampire who appears to be a fellow (albeit, hungry) prisoner.

The first thing you should be forewarned about concerning Sunshine is that McKinley employs a very circuitous writing style. Girl loves her tangents. A huge chunk of the book is Sunshine talking to herself and pontificating on the world she lives in. This is nice for a bit of world-building and introspection, but I found it a bit annoying at times. The style of writing also makes it a little hard to figure out what's going on sometimes. Sunshine likes to use vague and confusing descriptions for how she's seeing the world or doing or feeling something. It creates an overall disorienting effect, which I think might have been what McKinley was going for, but I didn't really enjoy it.

McKinley has definitely created an interesting world here - one in which almost everyone is "half-blood", or a mixture of human and demon/supernatural creature, but vampires are the big bad. I liked the way other otherworldly beings were portrayed, like an old lady who is a were, but it isn't clear what she turns into- possibilities evidently range from a wolf to a Dachshund. There's a sense that anyone could be anything, and you wouldn't know it. I also really liked the idea of the SOF - Special Others Force, a sort of supernatural police.

Romance in Sunshine is barely present, excluding maybe three paragraphs total. This makes the description on the inside: "a mesmerizing novel of supernatural desire" a bit misleading. This is not Twilight. Romance is barely an aside and nothing actually ever happens except for a brief scene between Sunshine and her human boyfriend, Mel. I did enjoy reading about Mel and Sunshine's relationship though. It's the kind that could never be the focal point of a book because it's too normal and stable, but that made it very relatable for me. 

Overall, I liked the book, but a lot of Sunshine's babble could have been cut and I would have been quite happy. The whole novel seemed as though it were building towards a sequel, but there is none, and I think I would have forgiven a lot of the tangents and extensive world-building if Sunshine were not the endgame. I would say that if you're a fan of McKinley or not-so-sexy-but-a-little-sexy-vampires, give Sunshine a try.


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