Lauren's Reviews > Sunshine

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
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's review
Feb 23, 12

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, fantasy
Read from February 20 to 23, 2012

Overall I liked it. I've been reading Robin McKinley for years and sometimes I'm not really certain why I'm so loyal, since most of her books have fallen somewhere in the middle of my meter. I loved The Blue Sword and I couldn't finish The Outlaws of Sherwood. I don't know what it is that keeps drawing me back in. Even so, I was surprised by this book. It feels a lot different than her usual fairy-tales. I don't really see it as a YA book, to be honest. It's dark and grimy and just feels a little more grown-up than what I expect from a McKinley book. Not that I mind.

I liked Sunshine because in the current book world concerning vampires everyone's trying to make them out into the good guys, and almost human. I miss when the vampires were pretty much always evil monsters, with maybe one or two more honorable ones thrown in somewhere. They still aren't GOOD guys, they're just not completely over the edge eat your face off monsters. Vampires are UNDEAD. They are corpses that come alive at night to feed on the living. The vampires in Sunshine are like this. They're nearly all definitely evil. Even the one real exception, Constantine, is still a predator and his prey is still human. He's just the more "honorable" sort of monster.

The main character, Sunshine (not her real name), was also refreshing. She was FAR from perfect. She nearly didn't make it through high school, she always seems to be in an argument of sorts (though not an unloving one) with her mother, her boyfriend is an ex-biker gang member covered in tattoos. Her job as a baker gave her character. She felt like she could be a real person (minus all the supernatural problems plaguing her life) that I could meet one morning if I were to stop into a deli for a cinnamon roll and a coffee.

I liked the way magic was done here as well. I don't like magic to get totally in the way of everything. I like an urban fantasy setting with at least one foot in reality. It's easier to relate to. Wards were a nice touch, as were charms. Both were sort of fun by seeming to be sort of alive, without actually being alive. Or maybe like they were little bugs, acting on a specific purpose. People still drive cars and live in apartments, but the small bites of magic are what make a fantasy a fantasy.

What I didn't like starts with the pacing. Throughout the entire book there will be a little bit of action or something exciting, followed by pages and pages of something like making cinnamon rolls or checking email. I understand it makes Sunshine feel more like a normal person trying to get on with life. But what usually happened was I would sort of glaze over at some point during the boring parts and kind of shuffle my way through to the exciting parts. They weren't unreadably boring, and there was usually something to think about at least. But I usually got to these parts with a sigh, and then wished they would sort of get on with it. A lot of those drawn out more boring parts included bits that explained the world and the people that live in it. So this book feels more like the beginning of a series, which it isn't.

Which leaves me with the ending. I felt like it was rushed, so it left me unsatisfied. There are a lot of loose ends that didn't get tied up at all and I felt that they should have. I won't say more to avoid spoilers but this book should have continued on for a bit more or there should be a sequel. McKinley has pretty much said there won't be a sequel, she just doesn't write that way. Which is too bad, because I would read it.

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