Sunshine: My First Vampire Novel

I don’t read a whole lot of mainstream YA novels.

Particularly the ones about vampires.

So you could say that I read Sunshine due to an accident.

You see, I was assigned Robin McKinley’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast for school. And because I’m an obsessive little bean, I decided I was going to read all her other retellings as well. Beauty was my first exposure to the genre and I was fascinated.

What I didn’t know was that McKinley didn’t just write retellings. Some of her books are original. Sunshine is one of those… those it could perhaps be viewed as a distant cousin to a retelling of George MacDonald’s Little Daylight? I don’t presume to know.

In some ways, then Sunshine seems so out of McKinley’s league. But there were still moments that were so distinctly her and that was good to see. You shouldn’t lose your distinctive flair and personality just because you make a genre jump.

Admittedly, once I began reading – and realized that this was not a retelling, as I had expected – I wanted to see it through. If only because this book was a complete departure from what I normally read.

I had some big problems with Sunshine. But I also learned some things I previously did not know.

One of my biggest issues with the genre as a whole is that YA authors seem to feel like in order to appeal to the audience they have to include sex and obscene language.

Because apparently that’s all we’re interested in – sex – and all we do – use profanity. Why must mainstream YA is so predictable in this respect!

It doesn’t bother me  to hear profanity used but to see it is unbearable. They are ugly words. They don’t look nice. And I like writing to look pretty.

Sunshine was predictable in every respect, to be honest. Crude, lurid, mindless, overdramatic. Like, “Oh, my life is so hard because I think I might be in love with two guys at the same time and can’t pick, so I’ll lead them both on!” Am I supposed to be able to relate to this? I can’t.

In my – admittedly limited – experience, YA novels are always about teenagers – which is understandable, I suppose – hot guys – more rare than such books lead you to believe – and said teenagers “saving the world” or participating in other activities that are equally questionable in the realism department.

That said, I found myself enjoying this book against my better judgement. I thought I was “above” this. I despised the stereotypical teenage girl books. I thought I knew better than to be interested in things like dark romance and messy relationships and craving human blood.

I apologize for my arrogance. I was wrong.

I thought vampire novels were the worst of the fantasy genre, but Sunshine made me realize that “vampire” is a genre all its own and – just like every genre -has its good and its bad.

That doesn’t mean that I think that Sunshine is the best of its genre.

It was much different – and better – than was expecting it to be.

Just because a book is about vampires doesn’t mean it is automatically poorly-written, mindless trash.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t completely farfetched! It was plausible. It worked. This made me realize that when set in an appropriate world, one can do almost anything without it coming across as unrealistic.

It was complex, the world created. But also overwhelming for a newbie like me. I am basically illiterate in this genre. I don’t read much fantasy. The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia were as far as I went.

I didn’t realize at first that it was understood that this is all taking place after the Apocalypse – or… sometime in the distant future, when the world looks nothing like it does now. Maybe that is an understood fact about all vampire novels, I don’t pretend to know. I’m too new to the genre.

Another thing I liked was that Rae didn’t have these perfectly panned speeches. She couldn’t always find the swords to say what she wanted to.

I have a huge problem with protagonists who come up with great speeches on the spot. Katniss, I’m looking at you.

Who does this? Certainly not me.

It is unattractive to have a constantly tongue-tied character, but let’s face it – that’s how most of us would react to situations like the ones these girls are facing.

Unfortunately, Rae’s charm ended right about there, at her realism. She is too cliche.Tough loner girl who has powers she somehow didn’t know she had…Where have we seen this before? 

She is a baker… So that’s fairly different? But in my book that doesn’t outweigh being cliche.

Con, on the other hand, is great. Stoic and stiff and gentlemanly and Darcy-like. I read the whole book just for him, I think. It was boring when he wasn’t around. The beginning part of the book where they are trapped together is the best part.

It is kind of obvious that Rae and Con will fall in love.  Is this okay in some circumstances? It’s certainly something to consider…

I was thoroughly annoyed with facets of their relationship though. For example, Con and Rae have exactly one heated sexual encounter and then McKinley backs off and tries to act like it never happened.

Um. You can’t do that.

You’ve been setting this up for half the book! The audience demands resolution! Either they are together or they break up! You can’t tell me they are just friends when desire is obviously present.

The forbidden love because-he’s-nice-but-also-wants-your-blood trope is terribly overused. Anybody else thinking Twilight at this point?

Then again, the fact that Rae had a boyfriend who was not villified in any way was a breath of fresh air for the Love Triangle Society. I kept waiting for him to turn out to be working for the dark side, but it never happened, so…

I do think that Rae should have felt a little more guilty – or, rather, guilty at all – for messing around with two guys at once.

Ultimately, the end was terribly dissatisfying. All the buildup seemed to be for nothing. The climax fell flat.

In closing, I will just say – thank goodness for standalones! We do not need another series in the world!

Image result for pirates of the caribbean running gif

Do you ever make a complete departure from what you normally read? Do you read mainstream YA? Are there any good vampire novels? Do you think people should step outside of what they normally read to try new things?

 

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26 thoughts on “Sunshine: My First Vampire Novel”

  1. Hallelujah! I strongly dislike cliché, teen books too.
    And love triangles?! So tired of them. (Though, if well done, they can add some interest to an otherwise boring book)
    (I’m moaning about the Hunger Games movies as I’m writing this.)
    YES!! SOMEONE ELSE WHO HATES WHEN CHARACTERS MAKE UP SPEECHES ON THE SPOT!! I can’t relate to them because I would never be able to do that myself… so how on earth am I supposed to be like oh she’s so awesome when she says all this scripted stuff??
    Thank you for posting. I will be sure to stay far away from Sunshine XD

    Like

    1. Moaning in a good way??? Or a bad way???

      I know, right??? That was one of the things I hated about Katniss. Whenever she got passionate about something she suddenly got very eloquent like she was… Peeta, or something!

      Liked by 1 person

            1. Very true. He is basically helpless. Which is not masculine and kinda lame. But I feel like it was intentional? So that there would be more of a contrast between him and Katniss. She’s the hardcore survivor and he’s more interested in maintaining his humanity levels, ya know?

              I never could relate to Katniss…?

              Like

  2. I FEEL THIS SO HARD. Although I’ve never read a vampire book (or really any paranormal book) I find a lot of shortcomings with YA fiction as you said. The sex and language is a big problem for me. Sometimes language can be fitting in certain settings BUT GOODNESS CAN’T WE BE A LITTLE MORE CREATIVE AND ARTFUL AS WRITERS?? I find in my own experience that using italics can add to the intensity of dialogue without having to use cuss words. (I’m thinking about period dramas as I’m writing this. Some of them are SO INTENSE and how often do they use swear words?? UHHHH NEVER BASICALLY.) So I’m in total agreement with you, dude. 😉 Also making up speeches on the spot LOL ME NEVER. You’re so right — how can anyone relate to this??? *sighs*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know vampire was considered paranormal??? Whoops!

      I know, right? I don’t mind certain words that have actual meanings, like “hell” or “damn” – but the ones that are just crude versions of other words??? UM, NO. NO THANK YOU, SIR.

      As you said, there is a time and a place for language. THAT TIME AND PLACE IS NOT EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE!

      Yas! Period dramas are so clean but convey so much emotion! Fantastic example!

      Like

  3. Oh my word, I hate hate, double hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY the whole bad language and no-no scene stuff! It just TOTALLY ruins the story for me. Does the story have a good plot? Sure. But if you throw in a bunch of bad words and scenes, I’m going to end up despising it.

    I have actually read a vampire book… *coughtwilightcough*, and I MIGHT have sort of like it??? Although I’ve only read the first and second books, because I have no interest in what happens later.

    As for mainstream YA, if that means love triangles and typical nerdy girl meets hot boy and they hate each other but then fall in love and “Oh, why do you like me, sir? I am naught but a nerdy girl” stuff, then I guess I read it, but not very often. I’m more into the fairytale retellings. (I know that this can also happen in fairytale retellings, but THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT! But yeah…the cliches are very annoying…

    Also, I hate love triangles. Usually, I’m good at pinpointing who belongs with who, but I’m currently reading a book that is making me die a little inside because I think the main character is NOT GOING TO END UP WITH WHO I WANT HER TO!!! AAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!

    Also, would you recommend Beauty??? I really want to read a Beauty and the Beast retelling….

    Like

    1. So true, Kenzie! Books are better off without.

      Reeeeeaaaaly…??? And you… Liked it???

      Bahaha! Your comments are the best, Kenzie! I need you in a pocket-sized version. 😉

      I was happy that Sunshine lacked the love triangle! Breath of fresh air to my weary lungs!

      Ooh! What booooook???

      I actually reviewed it here: https://storyanddarkchocolate.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/beauty-my-first-fairytale-retelling/ but to briefly summarize, there were a couple of details I LOVED AND FOUND SOOOOOO INTRIGUING, but in the end, the blah outweighed it. I really felt like she stayed too close to the original??? LIKE WHAT IS THE GOOD OF A RETELLING IF YA DON’T MIX THINGS UP A BIT????

      If I were you, I’d just wait for the Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’M currently writing. I’m sure it will be in bookstores everywhere before you know it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! Well, as long as you feed me cookie crumbs and chocolate chips, I shall be happy to shrink into a pocket sized edition, haha!

        And the boom is called Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard?? You’ve probably read it. I think everyone beside me has, lol!

        Ooh! I’m gonna read that!!!

        And yes, I totally agree. Retellings must be original, not regurgitated versions of the first!

        Ooh!!! Sounds like a good plan. I’ll definitely do that! Hahaha!!

        Like

              1. Haha! I haven’t quite finished it yet, due to starting Heartless by Marissa Meyer, and OH MY GOODNESS!! That is another one you MUST add! That is, if you like The Lunar Chronicles and Alice in Wonderland…

                Like

  4. THAT GIF IS FANTASTIC. SERIOUSLY.

    I sort of make departures, sometimes. Once, for my birthday, a friend gave me Divergent. My reading diet was mainly L. M. Montgomery and Jane Austen at that point, but I still read it. I guess my reading diet has changed, just a bit, because I AM reading more YA than I used to. I actually had no clue where the YA section of my (very small) local library was, until this summer. I do not appreciate the profanity and sexual content either, and generally I try to avoid that in books. Like you’ve mentioned, YA usually has more of that than I would like… *sigh*

    I’ve never actually read a vampire novel. I haven’t really thought about it, either. I guess that’s because it’s on the YA/supernatural/horror/romance edge, and supernatural, horror, and romance are not what I am particularly interested in reading. (Though Jane Austen is amazing, even if romance isn’t usually my thing.)

    People should definitely expand and try and read new genres, but that does not mean that it’s bad to stick to an author or a genre that you really enjoy, if you want to read more books of that type. I’ve been reading more genres of books lately, but I don’t think I am ever going to stop re-reading L. M. Montgomery.

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    1. It is, isn’t it? I love Pirates gifs almost as much as chocolate!

      Right? The Hunger Games was my first (and such a HUGE) departure for me! I had never read YA before, never read anything non-Christian, essentially. So it kind of rocked my world. 🙂 I loved it… And still do! After that, I began to step out of my comfort zone more and more… But until Sunshine I never stepped as far away as The Hunger Games. I still haven’t read Divergent… I would like to, though I do feel as though it is basically an exact replica of The Hunger Games (or maybe vice versa, depending on which came out first???)???

      I do read supernatural a good deal… ROMANCE NEVER UGH!!!! And horror… Well, I read Poe. But that’s the extent of it. And I guess Frankenstein. And Dracula is on my TBR.

      JAAAAANE AUUUSTEEEENN!!!! YAAAAAASSSSS!!!

      Absolutely not! If you love something, by all means KEEP READING, SIR! And rereading is pretty much my favorite thing on the entire earth, so.

      I have only read the Anne series??? I know! I need to dread more of her stuff! My TBR is just crushing me right now… And for some odd reason when I DO read, its not a book on my TBR???? Its just some randomness I pick up and think, “oh, this loks good!” Arg.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think The Hunger Games came out first, since people compare it and others to The Hunger Games as opposed to vice versa, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now.

        YESYESYESYES AUSTEN EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

        Exactly!

        You absolutely need to read more of her books. And short stories. And poetry. *piles up your TBR with all of her works* There. Those are on your priority list! (Or not, but I still reeaally recommend them all.)

        Yes, I totally get what you mean!!

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        1. ME, TOO. I’LL JUST TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT.

          I knoooooowwwww!!! Bahaha! Well, thanks, Kit. I’m officially crushed under the weight of it all…

          Seriously though. I have so many “priority lists.” And when I do read… IT’S NOT EVEN SOMETHING ON MY TBR??!!!????!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh I do like to step out and read some things I wouldn’t normally pick up! It can be really fun and refreshing almost, right?! I read a lot of mainstream YA and I love it…and actually most of the ones I read don’t have a lot of swearing/sex anyway, so that’s interesting the ones you pick up seem to! I haven’t read this book because, heh, I mean, I steer clear of vampires too mostly??? But it’s true! Vampire doesn’t necessarily equate to bad writing. 😜 I have to try to remember that hhaah. I DID love Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown though!! It was a 5-star read for me with vampires. ;D

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    1. Definitely makes you feel wild and adventurous!

      YAS, you do! And somehow you find books that sound REALLY GOOD, too! But you are more experienced in that genre than I am, so… Makes sense. You now your way around. I don’t. Yet. 🙂

      Like

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