Note to self: You do not like books with a lot of internal monologue. Nope. Not at all. You also don't like vampire books, remember?
Robin McKinley's Sunshine is set in a world similar to ours, but that is inhabited by demons, were-creatures and vampires as well as humans. Some time has passed since the Voodoo Wars between humans and vampires. Humans won, but barely. Enter Sunshine, a baker in New Arcadia who (surprise!) really loves the sun. She also has a wee bit of magic in her, which comes in handy when she is kidnapped by vampires and locked in a room with... another vampire, Constantine. Sunshine and Constantine manage to escape their kidnappers, but by doing so they forge a bond between themselves that is, to say the least, frowned upon by both the human and vampire sides. And their kidnapper is still out there...
I didn't care for Twilight or The Historian at all. I think those are the only vampire books I've read, but I didn't think I should hold them against the whole urban fantasy genre. So I thought I'd give Sunshine a try. It's been on my shelf for ages and it gets some seriously rave reviews by lots of people.
This is not going to be one of those reviews.
I struggled through this book. Quite frankly, I am not sure that I should even count it on my list of books finished this year as I must have skimmed over at least the last 1/3 of it. Sunshine is a character with a strong voice, but she also likes hearing herself talk (or think?) far too much for my liking. This book was pages and pages of Sunshine's internal reflections, fears, memories and a whole lot else. I am exaggerating, but it really felt like there would be maybe three lines of dialogue for every ten pages of monologue. And almost all the monologue was about how tired Sunshine always was. Or how much she wished she was baking cinnamon rolls. I became exhausted just reading about how tired she was all the time. And thank goodness I am not a big fan of cinnamon rolls or God knows how many I would have eaten in the week it took me to get through this book.
Honestly, I think this is one of those novels that has a very wide variety of reviews because I think it appeals to a specific group of people (which does not include me, clearly), and maybe others read it, scratch their heads, and think, "Huh?" Something just didn't click for me. However, Robin McKinley seems very popular with people in general- is there another book by her I should try?
I'm not a big vampire fan either but I did love the Anne Rice Vampire chronicles. I've never heard of this book before but based on your review I don't think I would rush to read it.ReplyDelete
Nice honest review Aarti.ReplyDelete
I guess I could try this one, but I would surely give up if it turned to a skimming book
I really didn't like Sunshine at all. Something about it just really didn't click with me despite (what felt like) everyone else's rave reviews. But I've really enjoyed the other McKinley books I've read.ReplyDelete
If you're interested in giving her another try, my favorite is Beauty - it's a lovely re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.
I am not the hugest McKinley fan this world has ever seen, but I really liked Sunshine, and also Beauty (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, WITH LATIN JOKES) and Deerskin. Deerskin is rather upsetting, and I think both books have some of the same style that bothered you in Sunshine. McKinley may not be for you.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the review. I will probably get this from the library, instead of buying it.ReplyDelete
Deerskin is a good book, but as another poster commented, it is very, very disturbing.
Sunshine is the Robin McKinley book that I like the least too. I really loved Beauty and The Blue Sword. The Hero and the Crown was good too and relates to The Blue Sword. Good luck in finding a Robin McKinley that you like! Happy reading!ReplyDelete
Kathleen- I have never tried the Anne Rice ones before, and now... well, if I do, I think it will be a while!ReplyDelete
Blodeuedd- Yes, I think I just wanted to know what would happen at the end.
Lana- Yes, exactly! Nothing clicked for me, either! It seems like a lot of people like Beauty, though, so maybe...
Jenny- Ooh, LATIN JOKES? So high-brow! I will perhaps try the other McKinley I have (Hero and the Crown) before going back to the monologue-ish ones.
Manga Maniac- Yes, you can always buy it after, if you like it :-)
Kathy- Does that mean I have to read Blue Sword before Hero and the Crown? Darn, I don't have that one!
You stuck it out a lot longer than I would have...ReplyDelete
Sounds terrible. I like things to actually happen in the novels I read. I've had a few books this year where I skimmed a giant portion, but most of the time I still count them as 'read' if I 1) can summarize the story and 2) found it extremely painful to read the first half of the book. :)ReplyDelete
I've picked up a few Robin McKinley books because they usually have an interesting premise but I've never actually read one. Except I think I've read Deerskin.ReplyDelete
Sorry to hear this didn't work for you, Aarti! It does seem to be one of those books that divides opinions. I really enjoyed both Beauty and Deerskin, but I agree with Jenny that the style is actually similar to what you describe here - so you might not be a fan of those either.ReplyDelete
As someone who couldn't read more than two pages of Twilight without getting bored, ditto Interview With A Vampire, I think I'll be giving this one a miss! (Though I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the Historian - I loved the descriptions of the Eastern-European countries, hated the ending and the explanation for the amnesia)ReplyDelete
I did enjoy the original story by Bram Stoker - modern vampire stories clearly just don't do it for me! Hasn't the vampire market been sated yet? Isn't everyone bloodlusted out?
I don't really like vampire books either, but they seem to be all over the place right now. I have heard a lot about how great McKinley's writing is, but I do have to admit that that much internal monologue would just annoy the crap out of me. I also think it's funny about how much the main character obsesses over cinnamon rolls. This might make a really good read for my daughter, who is in love with all things vampire right now, but as for me, I think I will pass on it. Hopefully someone else can give you a title from McKinley that is much more to your liking!ReplyDelete
I find McKinley reeaaaaallllly uneven. When she's good, she's really good, but when she's bad, she's horrid. I liked this one (even though I did get pretty durned tired of hearing about the cinnamon roles every three pages) and loved BEAUTY, but both THE HERO AND THE CROWN and THE BLUE SWORD were a mix of awesome and terrible. And don't you even get me started on THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD. I hated that book so much that I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't been on a misguided I-must-finish-everything-I-start kick.ReplyDelete
This book splits people pretty cleanly, I find -- some (like me) love it to bits (literally -- had to buy a second copy) and some (like you) just really can't get into it and even actively dislike it. It's a pretty stark example of how personal the reading experience is. I'm not sure I can even explain why I love it so much. I loved the baking. And the monologue. I do not know why, because often that sort of thing loses me.ReplyDelete
I think you would find Hero pretty different, and you don't have to read Sword first. They're only tangentially connected, really. Hero was the first McKinley I ever read, when I was 10 or so, I think, and turned me on to fantasy in such a way that I have never looked back. But over the years I have realized that McKinley really isn't for everyone, and that some of McKinley isn't even for me (tried and could not get into Spindle's End, for example.) She's an author I've started to be somewhat reluctant to recommend, even though I consider her to be one of my favourite authors.
As Kiirstin and others say above, it is a very divisive book. I really liked Sunshine, but I can see someone wouldn't like it because it takes some stylistic choices that are extreme and thus is not going to appeal to everyone.ReplyDelete