Happy Vampire Diaries finale day!! This is both SUPER exciting and sad. I'm already wondering how I'm going to survive until the fall. So, in honor of TVD, this week's Bookanista review is for SUNSHINE, my fave vampire book of all time!
SUNSHINE, by Robin McKinley, is not actually a young adult book...but it's one I nonetheless LOVE and think is appropriate for mature YA readers (what puts it in adult territory is the sex, so keep that in mind if recommending to younger readers).
So, yeah. I've read SUNSHINE many times. It's one of my favorites, and my own particular brand of comfort read. I've been reading a lot of awesome new YA lately, but I needed to take a break and go back to something familiar and well-loved this week, as life's been a bit hectic.
We actually had a little disagreement this morning, over who got to cuddle with the book. Mia won.
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.
Alright, that isn't much of a description. But it's okay. How about we just add that Neil Gaiman called this book "Pretty much perfect"...so yeah. What else is there to say, right?
Well, while I'm certain I can't do this story justice in a review, I CAN extoll its virtues and recommend that you read it, if you haven't already.
Robin McKinley's greatest strength, I believe, is in creating worlds so detailed and extensive that they live and breathe and make sense in the ways only a real world can. You believe in Sunshine's New Arcadia. You believe that most of the world's been weakened, in some places destroyed, by the Voodoo Wars. And, most of all, you believe in Charlie's coffeehouse, because you can almost taste Sunshine's Killer Zebras, Bitter Chocolate Death, and cinnamon rolls as big as your head. (In fact, I was SO craving a cinnamon roll reading this book that I made MAJOR HOTSAUCE pick us up some Cinnabuns!)
That's not to say the characters in SUNSHINE aren't also fully realized. From reading McKinley's blog, I know she's gotten near constant requests from her fans to write a sequel or companion novel to SUNSHINE ever since the novel was published. And it's not JUST because of the awesome world she created. It's because her characters are so INTERESTING...we all want to follow them on more adventures, learn more about them, hang with them a little longer. Sunshine, the titular character, is brave in the truest sense of the word - she plays the hero even while absolutely terrified. Her relationship/connection/affinity with sunlight is one of the most gorgeously rendered elements in the entire book, which is saying something. I love that her relationships with her family and boyfriend feel authentic (she and her mom, in particular, feel very real to me...they fight a lot. ;-)), and that she thinks about stuff. She has hobbies, interests, skills...I don't know if I'd be interesting enough to be her friend, but I'd CERTAINLY eat her baked goods, if I lived in New Arcadia. And that's what I love about her most, I think. She isn't necessarily the kind of character you'd imagine being best friends with - because she's prickly, private, and obviously going through her own life-changing stuff and doesn't have time for you - she is her own person, unapologetically. As a reader, I can't help but love her, not because she's like me, but because she's so HER.
And, in SUNSHINE, vampires are as they should be (apologies to Damon and Stefan - I still love you, hottie vampires!): scary, ugly monsters. I love that Sunshine's "good" vampire, Con, is STILL a vampire and follows the "rules" of the world. He's not attractive, he's not a "vegetarian" (that we know of), he's still scary as shit. But he has his own personality too, his own sense of honor and morality. In some ways, I find him to be an even more complex, intriguing character than Sunshine, because there's so much about him we don't know. He doesn't fully reveal himself or his history, and that makes him especially compelling to me.
At any rate, I could go on and on, but you probably should just pick up a copy of SUNSHINE for yourself. :-) Though, if you're a writer, this is one of those books, like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, that shouldn't be read in a vulnerable state...it's intimidatingly awesome!! But I also think it's inspiring. LOOK what someone has created with nothing but words - see the world, the characters, shimmering into life before you. THIS is what a writer can do. SUNSHINE is the kind of book I read when I want to remind myself of what I'm striving for....and how far I have to go. It's both a comfort and a challenge.
Aaaanyway....here are some more cute Mia pics!
Look how shiny and pretty!
And now, check out what the other Bookanistas are up to!
Christine Fonseca adores IN HONOR
Debra Driza is celebrating HEMLOCK with giveaway
Stasia Ward Kehoe unwraps UNGIFTED
Tracy Banghart basks in SUNSHINE