Posts tagged robin mckinley
Posts tagged robin mckinley
I’ve started thinking about all the books I want to read this summer. For me, fall/winter is prime try-something-new time, but the major event of summer is the re-reading. Among others, I’ll be revisiting Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which I’ve read about six or seven times since I picked it up by chance three years ago.
Sunshine was an instant favorite, and remains one of my most beloved books. I recommend it like crazy, I’ve illuminated my copy (which is taped together because I and my numerous lendees wore the cover right off), I stalk Robin McKinley’s blog hoping she’ll talk about it (though the blog is pretty awesome even when she’s not talking about Sunshine or her other amazing works), I wrote a song about it. I am obsessed with this book.
It is the story of Rae, whom everyone calls Sunshine, a baker who has convinced herself she is normal. When coincidence leaves her trapped with a vampire, shackled to the wall in an abandoned mansion, a forgotten talent may hold the key to her survival — as well as his. With Buffy-esque sarcasm and witty asides, Sunshine shows us what she can do, and the dark consequences she didn’t expect.
There are so many things to love about this book. I like lists, so let’s list:
1. Sunshine is so one of us. She’s obsessed with “Others” — werewolves, fallen angels, vampires, and more, all of which actually exist more-or-less in the open in her Alternate Universe America. She reads paranormal novels of dubious quality, she has a special internet set-up to get Other News, and she likes the fact that her motorcycle-riding boyfriend has a few too many magically oriented tattoos.
2. The vampire who becomes Sunshine’s ally is creepy to maximum levels. He seems tolerable only in comparison to the other vampires, even though they’re actually more personable. A short-spoken deadpan snarker, he leaves Sunshine, and the reader, salivating for details that he’s often too reserved to give. There are few things I love more than awkward vampires. He’s also not handsome.
3. The romance, or shall I say lack-thereof. Any moves in that direction are quickly squashed by the nature of vampires in this world. The sexual aspect of vampires is discussed, but in a world where everyone knows that they exist, people are pragmatic about the fact that after having sex with a vampire, you die. What is in the book is blunt and straight-forward in a decidedly, delightfully unromantic way.
4. One of the most attractive aspects of this novel is the blending of grittier urban fantasy/horror style with McKinley’s “fairytale” style narrative. There are some choice words and elegant sentences that make you stop to re-read, underline, and quote. Sunshine has a tendency to digress. Most of her digressions are world-building and/or wonderfully entertaining. Actually, one of my favorite parts was the tangents. This is where some folks get stuck with Sunshine. It seems like they expect it to be action-packed. It is not. Like many of McKinley’s books, the action does come –- and it is engrossing in the best possible way –- but it is limited. In between there’s character development and musings and waiting, which I understand can be maddening, but I enjoy it.
5. Speaking of character development. Sunshine’s character is firmly interwoven with the plot. Her struggle to work with the world as it presents itself to her and overcome her assumptions about herself are as critical and intriguing as the actual battles. It’s about her survival, yes, but also her sanity — her ability to live in the dark world of vampires, and overcome there, without being “of” it herself. Sunshine’s identity as a lover of light propels her through the story with a force and spirit I can’t imagine in any other character. She’s also a baker, and how beautiful is it to pair a feeder of people with an ally she could only feed by dying? I will tell you. So beautiful.
This book is a YA/Adult crossover (the new YA edition is so GOLD and SPARKLY), but not recommended for younger teens. I was fifteen when I first read it, but it’s definitely not for everyone that age. If you have any specific content questions (about this or any other book I review) feel free to ask.