Apr 06 2019

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Good grief, what an annoying novel. It starts out okay: Rae “Sunshine” Seddon is a fairly ordinary baker in a magical post-apocalyptic world who makes the mistake of driving out to the family cabin by the lake by herself one night. She’s subsequently abducted by vampires and manages to escape, which is only the beginning of her ordeal. Essentially, she discovers that she can draw on sunlight for strength to do magic, helpful when fighting vampires, as she must eventually do. Interestingly, she feels a lot of post-traumatic stress and guilt for destroying vampires, as she’s quite a gentle soul who doesn’t eat meat and who equates violence with darkness. All she wants is to go back to a normal life of working in the cafe and limiting her exposure to vampires to the penny dreadfuls she reads and the sites she visits on whatever nonsense word Robin Mckinley came up with for the internet.

And that’s pretty much all the good stuff. If this were the first in a series, I’d probably be kinder about a lot of it and particularly the way it ends, but it’s meant to be a standalone. Which makes the way it’s written an absolute nonsense. While I was intrigued by the essentially urban fantasy setting, I found the gouts of info dumping extremely annoying. I’m a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi, so info dumping doesn’t usually bother me, but it was info dumps about things that did not matter. There were pages and pages on cross-breeding but no explanation of what was up with Mel, for example, or the goddess of pain. And way too much made no sense, such as why Sunshine would give the knife to Con when it was obviously hurting him but was also supposed to protect him at the same time? That ending was especially outraging. I want answers, damn it.

I also thought it was weird as hell that Sunshine didn’t feel any conflict, much less guilt, about wanting to bone the vampire, considering that she already has a boyfriend (and not even taking into account how physically repulsive she finds said vampire.) I’m not one for overwrought love triangles, but a moment of “gee, maybe this isn’t right” would have felt more realistic than less. It’s weird, but up till around that point, I was rooting for her, then she just got annoying. I hardly base my like or dislike of a character on their sexual continence but I felt that something changed in the writing at that point, about two-thirds of the way into the book. From there on, there was just too much repetitive, neurotic living in Sunshine’s head, on top of the info dumping, resulting in long passages of nothing interesting happening. It was great when stuff did happen, but getting to each point was such a struggle of me trying to power through my boredom.

Anyway, there’s a bunch of good stuff in it, particularly in the first two-thirds, but way, way too much unnecessary prose that doesn’t explain half the phenomena. Tiresome.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/06/sunshine-by-robin-mckinley/

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