Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Just finished reading Sunshine.  Sunshine is a baker in the family’s coffee shop.  Everyday she gets up VERY early to bake cinnamon roles and all sorts of other goodies.  Most Mondays, on the day off, the family, employees and a number of customers all get together for a movie night.  At the start of the book Sunshine, feeling a little out of sorts and wanting time to herself, heads out to the Lakes.  Nobody spends time at the lakes anymore!  It’s deserted.  It’s quiet.  It’s creepy.  And of course it has ‘bad spots’ and vampires and Sunshine is captured and taken to a remote house where she is shackled and left, with another prisioner – a vampire – and she’s there as his food.

This is an unusual and also refreshing novel to read.  Unusual in that the world created is really unique.   A war has taken place and as a result the numbers of humans has been greatly reduced.  It’s widely acknowledged that ‘Others’ exist, demons, werewolves and sorcerers but Vampires are the biggest problem and it’s a problem that is becoming worse.  Refreshing in that the vampires in this novel are definitely not handsome.  They are monsters – some definitely worse that others.

When Sunshine is first captured she forms an unlikely alliance with her fellower prisoner, the Vampire Con.  Con has been captured by a rival gang run by Bo (sounds like an unlikely name! but is actually short for Beauregard).  Sunshine taps into her own long suppressed magical powers to help the two escape and in doing so sets in motion events that will culminate in a facedown between these two rival vampires with Sunshine in the middle.  I won’t elaborate on the plot any further.

I think that Robin McKinley is a brilliant author who portrays the settings in the book in such a vivid and imaginative way.  The lakeside setting is dark and foreboding and the part of town in which Sunshine lives is run down and seedy (although it certainly isn’t the worst spot to live in!)  I also think that the characters are really well drawn.  I liked Sunshine’s boyfriend Mel.  He was solid and reliable but even though I liked him to a certain extent I think I would have been happier if they hadn’t been in a relationship.  It almost felt as though they were in a relationship just for convenience sake to make it read as though Sunshine had this certain style of life.  Work, family, boyfriend, etc.  Mel actually spent very little time in the book and I think it would have worked just as well if they had been good friends.  Then we have Con (Constantine) who in spite of all the gruesome bits of his character you can’t help feeling attracted to.  Yes, you definitely end up wanting more out of this relationship.

The story is told in the voice of Sunshine.  I liked Sunshine, she knows what she wants and she’s tough and assertive – even when she’s being pulled in different directions (for example by SOF – Special Other Forces).  She is conflicted (and sometimes that can make her seem a bit whiney) but this is because she wants to do the right thing – and helping a vampire to escape goes against everything she has been brought up to believe – and making a bond and starting to develop feelings is definitely crossing the line.

Now, I enjoyed this book, but I imagine it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.  It’s not fast paced or packed with romance (although there is definite sexual tension).  Sunshine spends a lot of time reflecting on events from her past which can become a bit distracting particularly when these moments of reflection happen mid sentence!  I actually enjoyed all the information but think maybe it could have been handled a little differently and to be frank I found that the middle section of the book became a little too drawn out due to major info dumps which sort of made the story stutter a little bit.  I also might have enjoyed hearing some of Con’s thoughts.

In terms of criticisms – there is a particular part of the book (and you’ll know as soon as you read it what I’m referring to) where the author almost seems to step out of character!  The writing is just suddenly different and to be frank crude.  I didn’t really understand why the change there (it was as though somebody snook in a few crafty changes to see if they would go unnoticed before the book was published!)  As I said though this was only a very brief spell – just felt a bit odd is all and didn’t gel with the style throughout the rest of the book.  Also, I understand that there will be no further episodes to this book – which I don’t really have a problem with.  I liked the ending and have a good enough imagination for the book to end there – although I would have liked a bit more resolution on some aspects and therefore I guess I was surprised that more editions would not be following.  This isn’t really a criticism I suppose – just that personally I would like to read more about Sunshine and Con! (being greedy).

On the whole I really did enjoy this book and I will definitely pick up other novels by this author.  I particularly like the sound of Beauty and will seek that out next.

Rating A




4 Responses to “Sunshine by Robin McKinley”

  1. Grace

    I enjoyed this one a lot. I’m normally not a huge fan of vampire novels, but I’d read McKinley before and love her writing. This book was such an interesting take on vampires, especially because it seemed to break free of all of the stereotypes that normally show up in vampire stories. It definitely had a larger point to it than just feeding a trend, and I liked seeing Sunshine struggle with the decision to help Con and to challenge her own established viewpoints.

    • lynnsbooks

      It was a really good read. Quite dark and sinister feeling in parts. Definitely free of vampire stereotypes!
      Lynn 😀

  2. “But, oh, Mina, I love him; I love him; I love him!” #Spooktasticreads #Vampires | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  Set in an alternative universe where ‘others’ exist Sunshine is the main character who’s own special abilities lead to a partnership with her worst enemy. […]

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