Alyssa (aqeldroma) wrote in __fantasynovel,

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Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Cross-posted to my journal, as this is a series I'll be writing.

Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
Genre: Post-apocalyptic dark fantasy
Brief description: Sunshine just wants to bake cinnamon rolls for the rest of her life. That won't happen now, not after she comes face-to-face (by accident!) with the darkest of the Others: vampires.

Of course, we begin with my favorite.

When I first read this one (recently! back in 2006), I was disappointed. But then I read it again a month later because I could not get the story out of my head. Two months later I was standing in front of my bookcase after a truly atrocious first-read, and I reached for it to get the bad book taste out of my head.

I've always been afraid that rereading this one too often will make me lose my enjoyment of it, but to my delight, that's not the case. Every time I read it, I discover something new. As with her other titles (Deerskin, The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword), McKinley selects each word with precision and weaves each sentence with incredible delicacy. Her characters ring true and you find yourself identifying with them.

Most of those to whom I have recommended Sunshine have liked it. There have been those who haven't been able to get past the first chapter, too. If you are familiar with her other work, the stream of consciousness first-person narrative can be occasionally challenging. McKinley's prose, regardless, is darkly witty throughout. (If she's anything like her protagonists, she is awesome.)

Oh, and before you turn your nose up re: the vampire thing. THIS is how vampires should be. Gut-wrenchingly scary. NOT sparkly, or fun, or even sexy. Vampires are terrifying and different and not-human in the most chillingly possible way. Here's a quote:

"If you've been kidnapped by the Darkest Others, you know it. In the first place, there's the smell. It's not at all a butchershop smell, as you might expect, although it does have the metallic blood tang to it. But meat in a butcher's shop is dead. I know this is a contradiction in terms, but vampires smell of live blood. And something else.... Your body knows it's prey even if your brain is fuddled by the Breath or trying not to pay attention. It's the smell of vampire, and your fight-or-flight instincts take over. There aren't many stories of those instincts actually getting you away though. At that moment I couldn't think of any." (pg 18)

Just about the only thing that makes me sad about this book is that (to quote McKinley herself) there will be no sequel. Damnation. McKinley is notorious for loose ends, and that's the case here as well, but part of this book's mystery is that its world is so, so much larger than can fit in one tiny 404 page book. There is enough world here to fill twenty of those.

And that's how I like them. It's a decidedly adult book, even more so than Deerskin, but well-worth the read.

Notable quotes under the cut. Don't read if you can't stand really mild spoilers.

"One of the first stories that any teenager just waking up to carnal possibilities hears about male vampires is that they can keep it up indefinitely. I personally stopped blushing after I had my first lover, and discovered that absolutely the last thing I would want in a boyfriend is a permanent hard-on." (pg 15)

"Gargoyles and tchotchkes: the vampire arsenal." (pg 267)

"So, what do you do when you know you have two days to live? Wait a minute, haven't I been here before? .... Eat an entire Bitter Chocolate Death all by yourself. Reread your favorite novel, the one you only let yourself read anymore when you're sick in bed. I might have enjoyed this more, since I'm never sick, if death didn't seem like a very bad trade-off.... Take a good look at everyone you love--everyone local, you've only got two days. And don't tell anybody. You don't need to be surrounded by a lot of depressed people; you're already depressed enough for everybody." {pgs 326-327)

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