Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Genre: Fantasy (Adult Fiction)
Publisher, Year: Jove, 2003
Other Works: The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown
Flags: Moderate Language, Explicit References
Rating: C+ or Could Have Been Worse
Challenge: Reliquiae
Premise: A single woman, baker of cinnamon rolls by trade, finds herself suddenly in the grasp of vampires. Meant to be a certain vampire’s next meal, Sunshine Seddon ends up being his friend instead. And as they build a friendship that neither one of them understands, they find a strength together that can change the world in which they live.

I enjoy Robin McKinley’s novels. I was excited for this vampire tale and had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, I feel like those praises have been mislaid. I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I had hoped, and by the end, I was doing some serious skimming just to get to the last page.

Rae “Sunshine” Seddon is just your run-of-the-mill, average girl who has a sweet tooth and a knack for baking. When suddenly she is taken captive by a dangerous vampire gang, she knows she is facing an immediate end. But, to her astonishment, she is locked up with another vampire, Constantine, who is also a prisoner of the same gang. And although she is meant to be his meal, they end up being friends instead. As they struggle to escape, Sunshine realizes powers that she never knew she had, or perhaps just never fully understood. +/-

The start of Sunshine’s story is intense. Sunshine is snatched and imprisoned before you even know it, and the action just gets more exciting from there. McKinley takes the reader up the rollercoaster--click, click, click to the apex before the dive down from the highest point. And, you’ll want to put your hands in the air for this one because it makes the ride that much more thrilling. I literally could not put it down. I had to take the morning off from work just so I could get to the end of part one. Constantine is a great character, and I could feel his steely green eyes boring into mine from the page. I also enjoyed how passionate Sunshine was about cinnamon rolls and other such baked goods. It’s like I could smell the aroma of sweet breads and could see the flour-fogged air.

However, from there, I never felt the up-swing of the rollercoaster continuing its electrifying ride. No, the story took a nose-dive for me at that point. The action began to slow until almost a stand-still I felt, and Sunshine began to speculate beyond my patience. I didn’t enjoy being inside her head. I felt like she “talked” too much. Her thoughts, splintered by asides, which were splintered by even more asides, left me feeling weary and annoyed. Not even to get into the fact that she actually saw herself in a sort of “multiple personality” way, which sort of put me off.

I didn’t at all enjoy the “world” she created full of “part-bloods,” “comboxes,” and “SOFs.” I especially did not enjoy the SOFs, the “strange creatures” police. I think I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Perhaps it was just too far fantasy for me.

I felt the book lacked an enormous amount of Constantine. I really would have liked to see more of him. It seemed to me like the connection he and Sunshine shared was somewhat unrealistic based on the amount of time they spent together. After awhile, I had a hard time seeing the Con I’d come to know in part one of the book. I felt like his character faltered, and he become rather dull by the end.

Overall, it wasn’t my favorite of McKinley’s works. I find it hard to believe she even wrote it honestly, because her writing in Sunshine seems so different compared to her other novels. Perhaps the difference was that this book was written for adults while her others were for young adults. I think the premise was a good one, I just didn’t enjoy the execution of the idea. But, I’m not giving up on her; I still think she is an excellent writer.

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