Tag Archives: Vampires That Don’t Sparkle

Sunshine

McKinley, Robin. Sunshine (2010 ed). 405 Pages. Speak. $8.99

Sunshine is not a vampire story the way Pegasus is not about winged horses. Sunshine is about Rae Seddon– commonly called Sunshine– a young woman whose life is forever altered by her choice to go out to the local lake, alone, and at night. It is there that she is grabbed by Others and dragged to a remote, abandoned house.

At first Sunshine is confused, because she isn’t dead yet, and Vampires don’t usually play with their food for long. However, she is not alone in the abandoned mansion; she is to be dinner for Con, a vampire no freer than she is.

To get out of this alive, Sunshine needs his help, and strangely enough, he needs hers.

First Lines

It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn’t that dumb. There hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.

Monday evening is our movie evening because we are celebrating having lived through another week. Sunday night we lock up at eleven or midnight and crawl home to die, and Monday (barring a few national holidays) is our day off. Ruby comes in on Mondays with her warrior cohort and attacks the coffeehouse with an assortment of high-tech blasting gear that would whack Godzilla into submission: those single-track military minds never think to ask their cleaning staff for help in  giant lethal marauding creature matters.

Thoughts

While Sunshine’s world is similar to ours, it is not ours. It is a sort of parallel dystopia, in which the Voodoo Wars– a battle between the Humans and the Others– have left humanity struggling to rebuild in a wasteland. This world is simultaneously eerily similar to, and startlingly different from our own*. There is a lot going on here; the human population has been decimated, Others are discriminated against, part-bloods held responsible for their heritage, cities are slowly growing, around the “bad spots,” and places like Charlie’s Coffeehouse are small havens from the insanity.

I think the world-building may be my favorite part of this book, actually. The characters come second to the world for me. I wanted more about the world, more about the why, the what, the how. Things are hinted at, bits are mentioned, there are “bad spots” where humans dare not go, left-overs of powerful magic. But why are they there? My curiosity was not completely satisfied, which was a little frustrating, because I’m usually quite content with her worlds.

I do like Sunshine, but she is not the strongest female McKinley has ever written, and I have an affinity for the strong girls. At first, Sunshine is rather inactive, she is victimized, and spends a lot of time recovering from the trauma. She struggles with her sense of self, with needing support and being afraid to reach for it, with the ramifications of what exactly she has done, and with her bond.

Something which is particularly problematic to me are the relationships in this book. Sunshine is dating Mel**, but they seem stuck in a sort of loose dating, where they’re together when it’s convenient. Sunshine never seems to talk about things to him, and though he could be there for her if she just asked, she doesn’t. There are hints about her heritage, things which her mother may have been hiding, but it is never verified, it remains Sunshine’s theory, and is never really tested. She’s surrounded by family and friends and people who care about her, and some of them are powerful enough in their own right that they could protect her, but she doesn’t turn to any of them. She instead relies upon a Vampire who she has only known for a brief amount of time.

When I first read this book, I remember really liking it. I was on a vampire kick, and I was reading everything I could. This was not a YA book then, but that didn’t stop me. Looking at it, and having read it, I wonder if it is a YA book now. There is a fairly explicit scene around page 250 which left me wondering if it should be called YA. I don’t necessarily feel that teens need to be protected from everything sexual, but I felt a little awkward reading this scene, and I’m an adult. I imagine most teens would either be titillated or would feel as awkward as I did.

It is sad, knowing that I will never know more. McKinley doesn’t write sequels. She may eventually venture back into the same world, if her muses drag her there, but this is the only guaranteed book in this setting. It’s a pity, because there is so much you can do with a post-apocalyptic world. There are options, and ideas, and worldwide locations.

Anyway, this volume gets a 4/5. There is a lot more that could have been done with Sunshine, and I wasn’t wholly satisfied (and not just because I wanted more, which is a good sort of unsatisfied.) It is worth reading, because it is enthralling, and it’s very different from what you expect, if you’ve been told it’s a vampire book, because it’s not. There are vampires, but ultimately, this book is about Sunshine.

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* It left me thinking of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan world, actually.

** I like Mel, a lot. He’s got magical tattoos, which remind me of Pritkin’s tattoos from Karen Chance’s books.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

You Suck: A Love Story

Moore, Christopher. You Suck: A Love Story (2008) 352 Pages. Harper Collins. $13.99

Sequel To: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (1995)

As I have said previously: I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. It has become increasingly obvious to me that I should also avoid reading Christopher Moore at work. When you’re sitting awkwardly in the corner of the break-room giggling to yourself, coworkers tend to ask questions like: “What are you reading?” Sometimes, that’s not a problem, but there are times when I just want to read, and do not want to be asked. (Nor do I want people leaning and moving to where they can read the cover without asking, because that is somehow more annoying).

Anyhow, because this is a sequel, my review will likely contain at least a few spoilers for the first book. (Though I will try to keep a lid on any spoilers for the book at hand.) Proceed at  your own risk…

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story

Moore, Christopher. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (2008 ed.) 290 Pages. Simon & Schuster. $14.00

I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. I’ll be discreet, I promise myself, I won’t be awkward, I won’t seem like a maniac. I promise myself anything, just get the book out of your ugly purse and start reading, it will make the trip so much more bearable, I think. And for a few minutes, I’ll keep my promise. It will start with a smirk, which will then turn into a silent snicker, which grows into a soft giggle. This is where things get really tough, as I’ll realize that I’m breaking my promise, and will attempt to be serious. So what eventually escapes is a strangled snort, which may or may not develop into full blown idiotic laughter. Soon, the seats beside me are vacant. Eventually, even on an incredibly crowded commuter train full of people with their own books, strangers will edge away ever so slightly. Because as the unwritten rules of the train say– you may read, but only quietly. Laughing aloud and making a scene of yourself, being seen enjoying your book is forbidden. When I let myself read Christopher Moore, I inevitably break that unwritten rule, which is why I am not allowed to read his books in public.

Despite all the public awkwardness and the sideways glances, I am endorsing his books, most especially Bloodsucking Fiends. It was brilliant, and had me laughing loudly and crazily on public transit, and managed to get me laughing just as hard the second time I read it.*

To start with the beginning:

Sundown painted purple across the great Pyramid while the Emperor enjoyed a steaming whiz against a dumpster in the alley below. A low fog worked its way up from the bay, snaked around columns and over concrete lions to wash against the towers where the West’s money was moved. The financial district: an hour ago it ran with rivers of men in gray wool and women in heels; now the streets, built on sunken ships and gold-rush garbage, were deserted–quiet except for a foghorn that lowed across the bay like a lonesome cow. (page 1)

I’ve had problems with books which were “set in” the Bay Area in the past, most notably geographic and cultural annoyances. This book manages to avoid all those pitfalls completely; the neighborhoods (Chinatown, Northbeach, SOMA, etc.) are all represented, and there were no imaginary streets. There were a couple locations which I cannot be sure existed, but it was nothing too major. I even forgave him The Emperor of San Francisco and Protector of Mexico — a not-entirely-imagined character who shows up in A Dirty Job as well– because The Emperor adds an awful lot to the story, and does actually remind me of several San Francisco transients who do exist.

I suppose I really should say something about the contents and storyline, so I’ll give you a quick synopsis. One night after working late, Jody is accosted. She wakes up beneath a dumpster, her hand badly burned, and her senses strangely heightened. Her jerk of a boyfriend proves to be rather worse than she ever realized, and she finds herself in need of help. Tommy is our other protagonist– a farm boy fresh from the midwest, overwhelmed by the city– who finds himself helping Jody before he even gets to know her. Things get complicated as a string of murders seem destined to lead the police to their doorstep. Of course, their entire story is told with excellent wit.

In Conclusion:

I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. Regardless, you should definitely pick this one up and give it a read. Then read its sequel You Suck followed by Bite Me, which both seem rather promising. It gets a 5/5 for being brilliant and funny and just altogether awesome.

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* For some reason, my boyfriend kept looking askance and shaking his head at me as I sat on my couch and devoured the book.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Horror, Humor, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy