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Sunshine

Sunshine

Written by Robin McKinley

Narrated by Laural Merlington


Sunshine

Written by Robin McKinley

Narrated by Laural Merlington

ratings:
4/5 (186 ratings)
Length:
15 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 8, 2008
ISBN:
9781400180080
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while.



Unfortunately, she wasn't alone. She never heard them coming. Of course you don't, when they're vampires.



They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion-within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.



She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she's to be his dinner and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day.
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 8, 2008
ISBN:
9781400180080
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Robin McKinley's other books include the Newbery Award-winning The Hero and the Crown; Newbery Honor Book The Blue Sword; Sunshine; Spindle's End; Rose Daughter; Deerskin; The Outlaws of Sherwood; and the short story collections The Door in the Hedge; A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories; and, with her husband, the author Peter Dickinson, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits. She lives in England with her husband, three whippets, and over five hundred rosebushes.


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What people think about Sunshine

4.0
186 ratings / 163 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Maybe I'm just not a UST (unresolved sexual tension) fan, but couldn't they just kissed already at the end of the book? They admitted they cared about each other and wanted to spend time together, but I'd hope for a little bit more resolution between them. Or at least a sequel!

    That said, I wrote the rest of this yesterday and it still holds true:
    I'm almost finished reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley, and I usually reserve judgment of books until I finish them, but unless she fails spectacularly I'm probably going to give it 4 or 5 stars out of five. There are a lot of bad vampire books out there, and this is not one of them. She's imaginative, she has a very colloquial style I enjoy, and even though her life is very similar to Sookie Stackhouse's, I never get bored with her "and today I worked and nothing else really happened" paragraphs. Also, she brings mystery and magic back to the genre -- things are disorienting and mysterious and non-straightforward in a way that magic should be. I definitely recommend this to my vampire-liking friends.
  • (5/5)
    Rae Seddon, commonly known as Sunshine, quite happy to make cinnamon rolls and have all her life around the bakery, decides to go to the lake which proves to be trouble. In her words, "it was a dumb thing to do, but not that dumb".Because there are dark things about, and the darkest of the Others are vampires, and of course, Sunshine is kidnapped by them. And no-one escapes vampires.Wait, don't run. I know I said vampires, and with a character named Sunshine and this description you are thinking "oh no, not another vampire urban fantasy". I also groan at the thought of yet another vampire book (even though I've read very few of those). Yep, this is urban fantasy. Yep, there are vampires. But this is what urban fantasy should be like.Sunshine is told in a kind of different way - and it takes some getting used to. It is told in the first person by Sunshine, but more like she is thinking. Do you know when you are remembering something, and rehearsing how you are going to tell it to someone, and the thoughts seem to ramble and deviate and then get back on track? That's how this book is. And I loved it. It resonates with my thoughts and makes you actually pay attention to reading because a missed paragraph can make you stare at the page thinking "how the hell did we get here!?". This, together with the plot, means that it is a complex book, but in no way is it complicated.As a character, Sunshine is great. She is flawed, she gets angry, she can do great things and actually be astonished that she can do them. She is human, and so believable that is like she is there. This is her story, and as such we get to see so much of her.And then there are the vampires. I would say to forget all the romantic notions of vampires, but that wouldn't be quite right. There is a kind of gothic feel to it, and wooden stakes are still your best friend (as well as day-time and sunshine). But they are different than most vampires seen in fiction, there's an otherliness to them that suits them.Another thing that I loved was the fact that until the very ending I was still learning about this world, which is so alike and so different from our own. The information comes in bits and pieces as Sunshine mentions them, the mental picture forms slowly and a bit haphazardly, but there is a sense that there are still parts of the town unknown to me, and that they exist with a life of their own, not just as backdrop.Sunshine is a different book for sure, and is hard to talk about it without people jumping to clichés. This is vampire urban fantasy by the mere fact that it is set in a city and there are vampires. Everything else is new and fresh.Also at Spoilers and Nuts
  • (3/5)
    The premise: I can't remember where I ganked the premise from initially for the book club, but I did gank it from somewhere: Sunshine's mundane existence as the head baker at Charlie's Coffeehouse takes an unexpected turn when she drives to her grandmother's secluded summer camp. While she is taking in the scenic view of the starlit sky reflecting off the lake's calm surface, she is attacked by a gang of vampires and brought to an abandoned mansion on the far side of the lake. They strip her of her shoes, dress her in a blood-red gown, and shackle her to a wall. In the semi-darkness of the moonlit room, she realizes that a vampire is shackled next to her.My RatingGive It Away: The hype may have raised my expectations WAY too high on this one, I'll admit. Here's the thing, I appreciate what the book is doing and when it was doing it. I like that the vampires are not romantic heroes, that they look like monsters and are meant to incite fear. I like that our heroine responds to this horror like a normal person going through shock, unlike your typical urban fantasy heroine who clearly has no idea how badly she needs therapy. However, the writing style really taxed me and made my reading much more difficult than it would've been otherwise. And maybe it's me having WAY too many workshops telling me the do's and don'ts of writing, so I look at this as McKinley embracing too many don'ts. My critical brain was in overdrive, but I'm willing to chalk that up to a me-thing simply because, hey, this book is a best-seller and who am I to judge? I did, however, wish that McKinley had answered more questions than she raised, especially since this book is meant to be a stand-alone, even though it EASILY reads like the first in a series. Oh, sure, the main storyline resolves, but when the book is over, I'm left feeling a little underwhelmed.I wish I'd liked this book better though. I expected to, given the praise I'd heard and given how enjoyable McKinley was to work with in her guest blog. But the book didn't work for me, and that's going to happen (again, I think my expectations were WAY too high). Whether or not I'll try a different McKinley title in the future will thoroughly depend on whether or not the premise grabs me. So I'm sad, but I'm glad this book hits a sweet spot with so many other readers. :)Review style: Two categories, what I liked and what I didn't. I'm probably going to bore you with talk about writing styles, but I have a lot to say about this one in regards to the story. I also plan on discussing the nature of stand-alone books that can also be the first in a series, and whether or not Sunshine owes it to its readers to have a sequel or stay all by its lonesome. Very vague spoilers, so if those wig you out, just skip to the "My Rating" section of the review and you'll be in good shape. The rest of you, read on! :)REVIEW: Robin McKinley's SUNSHINEHappy Reading!
  • (5/5)
    The plot is good. The characters are wonderful. But the language is what really makes this book stand out. The characters speak a dialect that's entirely understandable and rings true, while also distinctively reflecting a postapocalyptic Earth with vampires and demons and magic and such. It's also a book in which it seems entirely natural for a dessert to be named "Sunshine's Eschatology."
  • (5/5)
    This is not one of your typical vampire books. In fact, it is more about Rae "Sunshine" Seddons, a young baker, who happens to get thrown into a situation where she actually saves a vampire named Constantine by using an unlikely power of her own...sunlight. The pairing is surprising and their friendship and what the consequences mean are written in a way that is clear an interesting to the reader.I read a lot of books and many of them don't surprise me like this one did. That is what made this novel a joy to discover.I want to thank my friend Annie who let me borrow this book. She truly has good taste in authors.
  • (5/5)
    I always find it a little interesting which books grab the public eye and explode and which do not. This book was fantastic. Far better than any of the Sookie books. Yet Harris' series has exploded into the bestseller list. If you like vampires than do not skip reading this book.
  • (1/5)
    I tried. I was reading "200 Years of Dover-Foxcroft History" by Louis Stevens. I will finish that book. Could not finish this one. It was too boring/painful to read. I was also reading People of the Wolf by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, and had the same opinion. Maybe reading three books at one time is just something I do not have the skill to do. 7/13/2016, 4,431 members; 4..07 average rating
  • (4/5)
    This was at times a slow novel, and at other times a very fast novel. The writing was a bit different than I am used to, with what seemed to be a lot of run on sentences, but despite that I ended up mostly liking the way this story was told. Perhaps less "filler" information could have made it even better? I liked the characters the most. I liked that you got a sense of the characters by the little they said or didn't say. There is a lot of honesty in this story. I like that almost as well as the characters. Or perhaps that is why I like the characters so much. A good read.
  • (3/5)
    When I first started reading this book I thoght it was going to be great. The world-building was first rate, even including some new words specific to that world. It was recognizable this world (not another planet) but an alternative one with supernatural creatures. I liked th characters and the plot and for the first third it went really well. Then the heroine kept whining, and self-pitying, and worrying about her new powers and how she would be a bad person now. If this happened once or twice, it would have been OK but it went on and again and again and ... Totally repetitious. The book slowed down for me and I almost didn't finish it. The end would have been all right but it felt like it was of those book endings that suggest that the book was the first of a series. I have really liked the others of McKinley's books I have read. I disliked this one.
  • (4/5)
    vampires, good, evil, fantasy, families, LRC, KS4
  • (3/5)
    yes I abandoned it, but no, it's not a terrible book. Robin MckInley is good. And this book has all of the elements that made me love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I'm just not in the mood.
    Admittedly, I become very hard to please when at the end of a long pregnancy. With Leo, I was only able to read food and family memoirs until the end. ...

  • (5/5)
    This book makes me hungry. All the baking stuff! The book is completely rich with detail, the character and world-building is glorious.

    Edit now I've reread:

    Sunshine was a reread, but it's been a while and some things were a surprise to me all over again. I was worried it wouldn't stand up to a reread: I skimmed a couple of other reviews and saw that people had some pretty negative things to say about it. And I certainly saw the truth in the things that were said, but I also enjoyed reading the book again. It helps that it's an incredibly rich experience. The writing appeals a lot to my synaesthesia. It's pretty sensual writing as it is: there's a lot of detail, a lot of talk about cooking, and also a lot of feeling. Descriptions of sight and smell and hearing.

    The whole book is written in first person POV. The main character is Sunshine, and she's "not your average heroine", as they say. She has no ambition, she's not all that smart, she's not that brave, and she'd quite happily live in her bakery all her life. Some people find her hard to like, but I think she's quite human and although she does get a lot of power, eventually able to kill vampires with her bare hands, she doesn't want it and she's scared of it. I find the writing interesting and absorbing, but I'm sure for some people it's too rambling and/or dense. It does take her an awful long time to do something as simple as log onto the internet equivalent.

    The book is set in a post-apocalyptic world where magic, vampires, demons and succubi -- to name a few -- exist. All those kinds of things are for real. This could be 'our world in the future' given the references to Bram Stoker, or an alternate reality. It's never made exactly clear, but I suspect the latter because of the slang words the characters use -- "carthaginian hell", "spartan", "sheer". I like that there's no explanation of the slang, given that the book is narrated by someone who is a part of that world. You just don't really think about that kind of thing in normal life: why would you? Sometimes Sunshine explains things that shouldn't need explaining, like how to kill vampires, but you can't avoid doing exposition entirely!

    The thing that really impresses me about this is that the vampires aren't overly sexualised, and while Constantine is still an ally, he remains unsettling. Okay, there are a couple of scenes in which Sunshine has chemistry with him, but she's also more often than not aware that there's something vastly different about him. He moves differently, he looks different, there's no heartbeat... I like the way it ends on an awkward note, with them not quite sure what's going to happen now but not wanting to lose contact with each other.

    A lot of the more minor characters are completely fascinating and have big backstories that we clearly barely glimpse -- Mel, Yolande, Sunshine's grandmother, the goddess of pain, the SOFs in general... There's a lot to work with in this world, and I'd really love to see a sequel.

    My main problem with this book is how it made me crave cinnamon rolls. Argh!
  • (3/5)
    At first I was rapturously excited about Sunshine. At last!, I thought, I had found a suitably smart alternative to the despicable Twilight, a similar-but-better book I could recommend to vampire-crazed customers to ease them into reading superior fantasy. The titular heroine is capable with a variety of talents ranging from the domestic to the magical and the vampires are actually, you know, dangerous but vulnerable, retaining the tension that makes them interesting. Strong female lead, well-rounded supporting characters, intriguing chemistry between the leads, and vampires-as-they-should-be. It really should have been a perfect book.

    Alas, Robin McKinley goes overboard with her stream-of-conscious infodumpy style. Now, I happen to really enjoy intricate, info-dumpy worldbuilding--I adore Neal Stephenson and China Mieville, for example--but McKinley does it so constantly (and at the most inappropriate times, like in the middle of what should be a tense vampiric confrontation) that even my considerable indulgence was strained. Sunshine is perfect, yes: a perfect example of 'too much of a good thing.' To use one of the book's recurring digressions as an example, the first few times McKinley shot away on a baked-goods spiral I was with her in full: I love cinnamon rolls as much as everyone and it was charming to read them so loving described. After about the billionth time McKinley interrupted the plot to extol Sunshine's delicious desserts I started to get a sugar hangover by proxy. Maybe a harsher editor could have helped make the book as lovely as it should have been...?

    In the end, I did enjoy the book. The characters were memorable, the world was interesting, and the ending was sighingly perfect. However, it is not the Twilight alternative I have been searching for. I seriously doubt the recommendability of this book--I certainly don't feel confident in handing it off to most of the Twilighters.
  • (2/5)
    this book is a jumbled mess. there's a good story in there somewhere, but it's buried under a bunch of repetitive, yet unclear, overly descriptive word chunks. McKinley is a well-established author, so I don't know if this was just an early book or a rough draft, but there's a ton of "telling" instead of "showing". the urban fantasy/vampire that's not as bad as the rest of them/sorta romance/discovering one's hidden talents genre is full to the brim, so there's no need to waste time on an example this deeply flawed.
  • (1/5)
    This was so slow and boring. I'm sorry, but I wasn't even able to finish this one. So I don't know if it gets any better after I stopped reading, which I don't even remember where I was in the book.

    Also, I find the way this was written to be very confusing. I've read a couple of the authors other books (though it was long long ago) and don't remember being confused by her writing style.

    In the first ten pages or so we're introduced to way too many people. And not even properly introduced because they don't get any "air time" (until page nine when only one does). It's just the main character rattling off names and thinking about these people. Only a few are described in depth. With some we aren't let onto who they are until a few paragraphs or a few pages after their name is mentioned. Sometimes she stops thinking about someone, then starts up again later on without mentioning who. Then I have to go back and try to figure out who she's talking about. At least two weren't described at all and are only mentioned in passing. It doesn't seem like they're important to the main character or to the story. I don't care if there's someone named Sally hanging out at someones house if all we learn about her is her name. The main characters thoughts are so chaotic. I guess it's normal in the way that most people think about others in their life. But she's supposed to be the narrator introducing us to these characters, so it doesn't work and only makes things confusing.

    As the story continues she occasionally rattles of more names, in either flashbacks or from just thinking about people in general. I don't remember if any of the minor characters mentioned in the beginning were the ones who were mentioned later on or if those were new people. With so many names being thrown at me, and no personalities or physical descriptions to connect them with, it's hard to remember them all.

    Too many and too long flashbacks. Sometimes they were important to the story. Sometimes it's just about her baking... She's obsessed with it. And I hate when she randomly starts talking about baking to the vampire. And apparently it's contagious, because soon the vampire is using baking metaphors.

    There were a few long info dumps. Sunshine keeps rambling on and on about different things and soon the subject is completely different than what caused the info dump in the first place. Though I'm glad that I found out that there are were-chickens in this world. Even thought it has nothing to do with the story, it was funny!

    In one of the long info dumps, we started to be informed about something from the far past (years before her kidnapping) and then suddenly we seemed to be in the present and near past (the few weeks after the kidnapping). No space between the paragraphs. No warning or transition. I then started to wonder what I just read that took place in the far past and what was supposed to be the present/near past. I went back to re-read the last couple pages, but was unable to tell.

    Sunshine and her vampire friend are pretty much the only ones we get to hear from directly. It's rare when any of the other characters get a line. We only hear from them through Sunshine's thoughts and her telling us, usually in past tense, what a character did or said. We're being told, not shown.

    Overall, the plot is very interesting. But the majority of the book is taken up by info dumps, flashbacks, details of the cafe business, Sunshine's thoughts on baking, and other random thoughts of hers. Pages and pages go by without any dialog, action, or anything relevant to the plot.
  • (2/5)
    This was another book that disappointed me greatly. McKinley is a fine and engaging writer and has produced some of my favorite repeat reading. I had a lot of expectations for this book, but in the end I felt let down.

    Sunshine is an interesting character -- or, at least, a potentially interesting character. She works very hard not to be interesting, to be as ordinary and unnoticed as possible. This wasn't a bad choice, but her (and the author's) success in this didn't help the novel.

    Then there was the world -- a well built world of which we are given tantalizing hints, but little else. Something Happened, and the world changed, and now magic and vampires are around, etc. But Sunshine doesn't venture into the world. She does her best to be ordinary, etc. (even though, as the heroine of the novel, we already KNOW she is special. It's there in the fantasy book contract.)

    Finally the biggest problem for me -- the final battle. Everything builds up to this very important climactic moment -- and it rushes by in a blur of nobody looking, nobody noticing. In fact, it was over in about 4 paragraphs, if that much. I swear, it's as if we were climbing up the first hill on the rollercoaster, full of anticipation of that thrilling, terrible first drop, only to find we were back at the loading platform.

    The big part of my disappointment was that it did not NEED to be disappointing. McKinley is a writer with the chops and power to have carried off even this unusual set of characters and situations. But she didn't. She opted out, went home, and put up her feet before the book was really done. And I just don't get over that.
  • (5/5)
    I don't know why I only gave this three stars the first time. To be totally honest, I read it one night when I had missed the last bus back to the town in which I lived, and I had to let myself into a bookstore I still had a key for and tried to sleep in a lumpy armchair. It was a low moment. Does it help if I admit that whiskey was a factor? At any rate, drunk and insomniac, I read all of this in one sitting and thought 'meh'. Probably, though, if a choir of angels had descended from the rafters to serenade me in my deeply uncomfortable chair, I would still have said 'meh.' Things were spinning, and I was just starting to feel no longer tanked, but slightly crusty and ashamed. Anyway, I just re-read this and it was really great. The vampires are original and disgusting and the setting is fascinating. It's got to be, hands down, the best teen vampire book ever. I WANT SIX MORE BOOKS, PLEASE. Sadly, that's not how quality books are made - I just have to hope inspiration prompts McKinley to give us more Sunshine.
  • (3/5)
    This is much more adult than McKinley's other works that I've read. It's also my least favorite. But, the worst of McKinley still=way better than a lot of other authors.
  • (5/5)
    This is not one of your typical vampire books. In fact, it is more about Rae "Sunshine" Seddons, a young baker, who happens to get thrown into a situation where she actually saves a vampire named Constantine by using an unlikely power of her own...sunlight. The pairing is surprising and their friendship and what the consequences mean are written in a way that is clear an interesting to the reader.I read a lot of books and many of them don't surprise me like this one did. That is what made this novel a joy to discover.I want to thank my friend Annie who let me borrow this book. She truly has good taste in authors.
  • (4/5)
    Robin McKinley's foray into urban fantasy territory is well-written, but uneven.I've had this book in my to-read pile for two years now, having heard good thing about it as a dark, non-sparkly vampire story. I read several of McKinley's books as a teenager and liked them well enough, but I read Spindle's End earlier this year and was really disappointed. Therefore, I put off reading Sunshine even longer--and then I had to choose a new book the day before Halloween, and decided I couldn't get more Halloween than old-fashioned vampires.I almost didn't make it past the first 20 pages.The book starts slow. Achingly slow. There's no magic. It just feels like the ramblings of a very normal baker; mind you, baking is one of my prime hobbies, but it's not what I wanted to read about here. Then the fantasy element finally enters as the vampires nab her, and there's an Infodump from Hell. I strongly considered putting the book away, fearing the rest of the book would be that boring and uneven.However, I decided to stick with it, and I'm glad I did. McKinley's world here is fascinating: humanity struggling to survive after Voodoo Wars killed many, leaving spots of blighted earth in the war's wake. There are no good vampires, which makes Rae's alliance with Constantine all the more dangerous. The powers she develops are particularly interesting. The cast of characters is wide and sometimes difficult to keep straight, but their personalities are a delight. I also love that it was not a vampire-human romance, as that holds no appeal for me (and that goes back way before Twilight ever existed).I became more interested in the book after 50 pages, and absolutely hooked after the first 100. That said, it was still plagued by Rae's rambling monologues that completely kill the momentum at times. I like first person perspective and write it in quite often, but it feels overkill here; this type of first person POV is why some readers loathe it.I can see why the book ranks highly as a modern classic in the genre, as it has many brilliant twists on old tropes of vampires and magic, but it's not one I will read again.
  • (4/5)
    I read Sunshine some years ago. McKinley is truly a gifted author and she managed to take the world of Vampires and turn it upside down. I can always appreciate an author who is unafraid to try new things. Rae is the likeable protagonist in Sunshine. She doesn't possess those "tough-girl" qualities, such as the typical protagonist in this particular genre. She is as uncomplicated as they come, Rae works at a bakery and she enjoys her job. McKinley lays out a complex world in which the magical easily mixes with humans. Humans even use charms on daily basis to protect their homes and cars. It's a world in which humans and Vampires are at war. It just happens that Rae rather reluctantly, ends up in the middle of that war. She is kidnapped one day by Vampires, chained to a wall in an abandoned house. Certainly those circumstances are difficult enough, but try adding a starved Vampire, named Con, who is also a prisoner to the equation. That creates an even more complicated situation. Rae is unsure if she can survive the night, but something peculiar happens, even though he can drain her at any time, he chooses not to. Instead, Con and Rae form a bond. All vampires in Rae's world are evil, and Con, isn't necessarily good, he's just different. And he helps Rae in a way that she never imagined. Rae in that house discovers something within herself that she never knew she had. It is through this new discovery that she and Con are able to escape. But they are not long separated, Con continues to seek her out, and she welcomes him. They almost form an unspoken connection, and a dependency upon one another. I thoroughly enjoyed Sunshine and wish that McKinley had graced fans of this book with a sequel. Many questions were left unanswered, which made it seem incomplete. Other than that, it was a pleasure and fans of the Vampire genre should add Sunshine to their book collections.
  • (3/5)
    The story of 25-year old "Sunshine" Rae Seddon, a baker in a coffee house living in a world after the "Voodoo Wars" is intriguing enough to stick with to the end (though I agree with another reviewer - ending wasn't great, just okay). Also, McKinley, whom I loved in 'The Hero and The Crown" and 'The Blue Sword" is far too wordy in this novel for me -- I didn't want to be in Sunshine's head that much. The characters I liked best: Constantine "Con" (the vampire), Yolande (the Wardcrafter -- the charms and wards were a very interesting part of the story) -- both of these I'd like to know more of. Rae, of course, was cool - the baking aspect of her was a nice 'grounding' touch to the book. Would I read a sequel if there was one ? Yes, I think so. And maybe in the 2nd one, McKinley won't try so hard to be 'hip' and just get back to the fine storytelling that she's done before.
  • (5/5)
    Every single one of McKinley's books is worth reading. That said, her 2003 novel, "Sunshine" has become my favorite of her canon. Of all books, really. The stream of consciousness narration gives a wonderful sense of immediacy with an incredibly rich personality. The main character is wonderfully earthy and real, with a grumpy streak to which we can all relate. She improvises her way through situations that are completely terrifying and bizarre, reacting the way anybody would: in disbelief, confusion, and mind-numbing denial.I'm not a particular fan of the vampire genre. This is actually the only book I've ever read that fits in the category, so I can't say whether fans of the genre will appreciate it, but fans of fantasy definitely will.
  • (5/5)
    I have to admit, this book surprised me. I didn't ever expect to like a book about vampires, but one of my friends (who usually has good taste) recommended it and I thought I would give it a shot. I was drawn into this book immediately, mostly because I really related to the main character, Sunshine. Like her, I also work in a bakery and love it, so I enjoyed the descriptions of her work life. I also loved the way both Sunshine and Constantine were written, they had a lot more depth than your average character. The storyline was also compelling and included action, introspection, and a touch of romance (for those people looking for a book where the vampire and human fall madly in love and have lots of sex throughout the rest of the book, look elsewhere; the romance is pretty subtle). I only had a couple of issues with this book, and they're pretty minor. For one thing, it bothered me that sometimes Sunshine would go off on this long tangent in her mind. By the time she got to her point, I sometimes forgot why she was even thinking about this stuff in the first place. I understand that a lot of her meandering thoughts included important elements of her history, it just seemed like it was a little too much sometimes. My other issue was with the ending. It resolved the main conflict in the novel, but left many questions unanswered. It seemed like the ending I would expect from the first book in a series, but Mckinley has said there will not be a sequel. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book.
  • (5/5)
    I was not at all interested in vampire novels, or urban fantasy novels, or paranormal-romantic novels, etc. I was taking a class on the topic of classic monsters (vampires, werewolves, etc) and had to read one of these types of novels. I checked out a bunch of them from the library and one by one was either bored or disgusted by page 3. I checked out more. Same thing. Repeat. And repeat again. I was so frustrated, and then I got this book in my hands. I was captivated immediately, from page 1. I liked the way the main female human character talked, I liked how she thought, I liked the way she spoke about her job and the customers and her co-workers. When things begin to happen with the vampires, there's such suspense! It was so easy to feel her fear and her shock. It was so easy to visualize everything. It was delightful to learn that some of the things she spoke of as matter-of-fact in the beginning weren't actually true. The main vampire himself was so compelling. I liked him so much! I can't put my finger on it, on why I was so attracted to him, but he is written beautifully and subtly. There is so much emotion there but he's always described as monotone and stony-faced. It's magical to realize that there is so much under the surface. He is afraid, worried, surprised, nervous, and unsettled just as the main female human character. While she expresses it in action and words, he expresses it ... in some sort of feeling that comes across not in action or words. I have never run into any character like him. I fell in love with this book. It nearly broke my heart several times. It was beautiful, utterly beautiful, and I never wanted it to end. When it did end, it was painful. There's so much more there to be written, but perhaps the ending is perfect - it wasn't a cop out, no unrealistic dramatic shift in storyline, no sap, no surprise ... it was just like the rest of the novel, subtle and beautiful with so much emotion packed into one tiny sentence, one tiny gesture. This is an extremely romantic book in all meanings of the word "romantic." It's written with class, yet it's not ponderous or bogged down with extraneous details. It's not cheapened with gratuitous sex or endless dwelling on lust. I can't praise this book enough. I can't recommend it enough. I shudder to think that it took me this long to discover such a jewel. What if I had never found it? I can't imagine, in hindsight, now living without it in my life. Yes, it was that good.
  • (5/5)
    The plot is good. The characters are wonderful. But the language is what really makes this book stand out. The characters speak a dialect that's entirely understandable and rings true, while also distinctively reflecting a postapocalyptic Earth with vampires and demons and magic and such. It's also a book in which it seems entirely natural for a dessert to be named "Sunshine's Eschatology."
  • (5/5)
    I just finished "Sunshine" 'round 3 in the morning, and 'twas a real page turner near the end. One of my limitations as a reader is that I do not really care for all the gobbledygook about vampires and assorted creatures, so 'twas odd that I happened to pick this book up for perusal and amusal; except that a few of moi library school peeps had convinced me that 'tis a book that I might enjoy, and given that 'twas available at the library I gave 'er a go.And it ended happily e'er after for moi right up 'till the last sentence of the final chapter; which was bittersweet because 'twas an immensely satisfying ending, and yet I didn't want it to be over. Also, I hope that there is NOT a sequel to this book, because I like it too much to risk having it ruined; and there does not need to be a continuation. So this book has been compared to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I have ne'er perused; hence I cannot verify that comparison. For moi, it was more like the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich (beginning with "One For the Money") featuring a down-to-earth and likable female character (and I just noticed that both character's names start with the letter "S," which is my favourite letter for a first name); and there are quirky characters in their periphery; and romance perchance. Oh, and there are also descriptions of sweets -- and I barely made it through reading Sunshine without gaining ten pounds, because the descriptions of cinnamon rolls and such made me want to eat a bucket of 'em. Reading "Sunshine" reminded me of various Stevie Nicks tunes -- although to be honest, almost everything reminds me of Stevie Nicks tunes. Irrespective of that, hep cat, the three that "Sunshine" especially brought to moi brain were the following:"Rooms on Fire": which is about long nets of white clouding memories, and the thrill and danger o' meeting someone who can un-cloud those memories ..."Frozen Love": an early Nicks tune, back when she was erroneously called "Stevi" on the album cover of "Buckingham Nicks" (at least they spelled her name correctly in the title); this tune is about climbing up through the cold freezing air and about an intense relationship in which someone might not be as strong as the o'er ..."Sara": the lyrics seem consillient: "stay with me awhile; said you'd give me light, but you ne'er told me about the fire..." and of course: "hold on, the night is coming, and the starling flew for days ..." Hence, if they make a movie out of "Sunshine," they otter consider these Nicks tunes in the soundtrack, and if they need more ideas for Nicks tunes, they can hit me up, pup.Anywho, using S'Nancy Pearl's infamous Four Doorways to break it down, I think that "Sunshine" is all about character and ... and? The setting seems least important, and I wasn't really caught up in the story 'till the final few chapters; dare I say that the second major doorway 'tis language? Read it and draw your own Confucius, Gus :-)
  • (3/5)
    Blood and sand, this book took a long time to finish! I borrowed two vampire novels from the library, both recommended by the members of an online reading community, and raced through the first in two days, whereas Robin McKinley's supposedly innovative story took the best part of a week. I shall tell you why. The premise of Sunshine, as outlined in the blurb, is a lot like the cover art: simple but effective. Rae Seddon, AKA Sunshine, AKA Raven Blaize - the more names we find she has, the worse they get - works in a coffeehouse baking cinnamon rolls. That fact must be important, because the words 'cinnamon rolls' are repeated ad nauseum throughout the book: Rae bakes cinnamon rolls, and when she's not baking them, she's thinking about baking them, and how wonderful she is at baking them. Anyway, one day, trying to escape her extended coffeehouse family, Rae drives out to her grandmother's cabin by the lake. She hasn't seen her father's mother, or indeed her father, since the 'Voodoo Wars' ten years ago, which was some sort of epic battle between humans and the 'Others'. Any fantastical device, from sorcerers to demons to vampires, are classed as 'Other', and are discriminated against by humans on a scale not imagined since Hitler. There is even a special police force, the SOF, who hunt down 'Others', and if they are vampire others, kill them with full Stoker-esque lethal force. The extreme prejudice of Rae's 'alternate universe' is actually rather disturbing, and only serves to make Constantine the vampire into even more of a cipher. In Rae's words: 'If it wasn't for vampires the humans would probably repeal the laws that automatically prevented anyone with Other blood from enjoying full human rights'. So ironically, when Rae gets to her grandmother's cabin, she is immediately kidnapped and held hostage by an ancient, evil 'sucker' - is there any other kind? - called 'Bo' (Beauregard), who chains her up in an old house with another vampire called Constantine. Bo is teaching Constantine a lesson, because their masters hated each other, or some equally vague reason, and thinks that chaining him to a wall for days on end, in a room unprotected from daylight, with a human 'blood donor' to tempt him, is a particularly cruel and unusual punishment. But Bo didn't count on Rae, who is actually the daughter of a famous sorcerer, Onyx Blaize, and can transmute her penknife into a skeleton key to unlock her shackles, free the vampire, and use her power of sunlight to protect him from the daylight while they make their escape. That part of the story was clever and exciting, even though I wasn't expecting a fantasy novel, but the trouble is that when the action is over, the book is not - Rae and Con are free from Bo's prison, but there are still another 400 pages to go. What fills the gap? Sunshine's incessant moping and mithering, punctuated with infantile dialogue - Rae is in her mid-twenties, but sounds like a sixteen year old, and her step-father Charlie and SOF chum Pat are no better for delivering full sentences in recognisable English - and clumsy alternate universe inserts from the author. Robin McKinley obviously wanted to combine all the legends of dark and urban fantasy in one novel, but couldn't think how to introduce her cast of wacky creatures into the actual plot. Instead, Sunshine will suddenly start talking about demons that turn blue or walk up walls, or 'ubis' (succubus and incubus), or wardskeepers, and the whole of her narrative is peppered with mystical slang words like 'carthaginian', and 'sheer' and 'skegging'. The whole world-building process, like the pacing of the story, is very disjointed and unconvincing. I couldn't even stretch to believing that Sunshine is this incredible baker of cinnamon rolls, because I was so tired of her continual rambling about herself. She's so tired, she can be a bitch, this isn't happening to her, she won't think about what happened, she can't be friends with a vampire! I did like Constantine the friendly vampire, which was the whole point of the exercise for me. He is a very sympathetic yet still mysterious creature of the night, for all that McKinley reduces the character to a line drawing. In fact, I pitied him, trying to protect and befriend a very ungrateful and begrudging Sunshine, who still won't let go of her vampire phobia, even after saving Constantine's life and letting him return the favour! And he has such a formal way of speaking, compared to Sunshine's stunted Valley Girl vocabulary, like, um, whatever. Poor sucker.Apart from the narrator, who unfortunately plagues the whole story with her half-baked theories and cinnamon rolls, Sunshine is an interesting twist on the vampire myth, mixing in witchcraft and sorcery for good measure. The theme of light versus darkness, or good versus evil, is a little obvious, but the balance of Sunshine's positive sorcery and Constantine's negative influence works well as a reimagining of the traditional vampire legend. Only recommended for those who are good at reading the wheat from the chaff, or who can endure nearly 500 pages of drivel to finish a decent story at half the length.
  • (4/5)
    I think what struck me most is how skilfully Robin revealed Sunshines world. Initially things seem quite normal, then she is taken by vampires, then we learn of the magic, the Voodoo Wars, the other races - the world unfolds organically and draws you in. It has some original and unique ideas and combines more standard ideas in a new way.Sunshine is an unusual protaganist - not exactly a classic kick a** heroine but not too stupid to live either. I found her refreshingly normal even as she became increasingly less so. I did find there was a little too much repetetive thought from her - but she is complicated so we see that - its just has the side affect of making the novel complicated so that it doesn't flow as smoothly as it could.I don't usually like first person much because to get details that happen outside the protagonists view is often clumsily handled however as a novel "Sunshine" is as much about what is unknown as what is known. Too, Sunshine her self is drawn as largely holding herself seperate - her family, friends and even boyfriend are on the periphery of her life and so we need only the barest of details on how it affects her - rather than how they feel or what they know.Constantine was equally interesting because so much was unknown about him. I would have liked to have ultimately known what his "chosen way" was though I can hazard a guess or two but I am not sure I needed to. McKinley cleverly created a vampire that retains its "otherness" while being sympathetic. He is not beautiful, he is lethal, as proved in the battle, and he is largely an emotional void. Yet somehow Sunshine, and us as readers, are able to see some humanity that redeems him.Tighter editing would have improved the middle section of the book immeasurably - a little too much trivia that didn't move the story foward but overall a clever and interetsing book I really enjoyed.
  • (3/5)
    I can already hear your moans - ANOTHER vampire book? OH BUT WHY?!? Heh. Or at least that's what I thought to myself when I realized that it was another vampire book. You see, I impulsively purchased Sunshine because (a) the cover is absolutely gorgeous and eery (b) I really liked Robin McKinley's Deerskin and (c) Neil Gaiman said: "Pretty much perfect." Uh, hello? Neil claims it's almost perfect? Pshaw. Who cares if it's another vampire book. Meet Sunshine. She's this young baker girl who lives by herself and works the bakery that's ran by her family. Sunshine et al live in this quasi magical world where there are vampires and werewolves and magicians (oh my) amongst the normal people. Oh yeah, and there are these CIA agents (that really kinda reminded me of Men in Black) who keep track of anyone who has any n-th of magical powers. So, let's say that your second cousin's aunt who may not be blood related to you but just might has some magical inclinations. You are stamped as an Other and they keep an eye on you. Most are not noteworthy. But Sunshine is. Because her father was this great and powerful magician. (I thought of a mix between Voldermort and Dumbledore).Moving along. Sunshine gets kidnapped by these vampires who bring her to this dungeon to entice a shackled vampire into submission. This begins a unique and interesting friendship. Using Sunshine's powers (unbeknownst to her at prior) they escape and unite forces to overtake the evil.I know that the plot seems pretty lackluster, and in many ways, it was. This is not a book that will stay with me. Not a story that I will be compelled to think about further. Perhaps Neil and I might have to agree to disagree. Sunshine was a enjoyable read but rather forgettable.What I did like immensely however is the portrayal of vampires. They didn't sparkle. There was no torrid love affair. Or love triangle for that matter. The vampires in Sunshine could "compel" of sorts, so I'm thinking that vampires IRL can too.Perhaps I wouldn't run out and purchase this book, but if you're in the library and you are looking for a fantasy read, as a newbie to the genre, I'd say go for it.