Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Sunshine" By Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley is one of my elite group, the Society of Authors I'm Obsessed With. Sure, people have lots of favorite authors: but me? I'm highly selective. They have to make me laugh and cry with their writing, have multiple books I devour multiple times, and cause me to ponder on things I usually wouldn't bother with. One object of my obsession, The Hero and The Crown was written by her.

But this book? I picked it up by accident. I thought it was a "historical" vampire read. Nope. It's actually urban fantasy, a concept that both repels and vexes me. Why not just create your own, totally new world, instead of building one very like what we have today?

To be honest, urban fantasy has begun to grow on me. It's usually more humorous than epic, and I am always needing a literary palate cleanser between bulky tomes. This is because of books like Sunshine, that are highly inventive, witty, and filled with heroines and heroes you can stand behind.

The Plot:
Twenty-something baker Rae or "Sunshine" is much like every other girl who wakes up at four in the morning to make cinnamon rolls. Yep, she's overworked, and doesn't have much to look forward to expect her only day off, but she's pretty ordinary. Until one night she decides to go to the lake near her city, and gets kidnapped by vampires.

These aren't your run-of-the-mill, tamed-and-gentled type vampires you see in Twilight and Dead After Dark; not the ones you'd get friendly with because they drink True Blood or animal blood. No, in this incarnation of future-earth, these are the worst of the Others, which consist of demons, werewolves, and vampires.

The vampires have taken her as a snack for the "guest" of their master Bo: a vampire they call Connie (Constantine), who they keep chained inside a house. They chain Sunshine near to him so he has easy access to his meal. Sunshine expects to be devoured in an instant, but Con insists she speak, and remind him she's a "rational creature". So she does, and is surprised to not to be accosted and eaten while she tells him about herself and the story of Beauty and the Beast. He insists she'll be safe to sleep the rest of the afternoon, while the sun is shining. She does, and dreams about her grandmother, and how she was taught to use magic to change things. Sunshine happens to be what she draws her power from.

When she wakes, the other vampires return and cut her above the breast and thrown onto Con's lap as encouragement for him to feed. Con lets her get away from him, but then she decides to look into his eyes (a huge vampire no-no in this book. They can put you in a trance.). She crawls back onto his lap (in a trance) and in an attempt to get out of it (and look rational) begins to sing "You Are My Sunshine". He releases her and she settles in her corner to sleep.

When she wakes again at dawn, she has a mission. She has a pocketknife in her bra, and changes it into a key. She frees herself from her chains, but looks to Mr. Vampire. She decides to free him as well, though he tells her it will be of no purpose, as vamps don't glitter in sunshine in this book: they burn instead. Sunshine has another notion: she'll make Con sun-proof with her magic. It works.

Con has a little meltdown after he is safely in the shadows. (To be fair, I would to.) He demands to know her parentage despite telling her not to tell him any names before. She coughs up that she's the daughter of Onyx Blaise (Master Magician, or something). He progresses further into his meltdown and begins to laugh, telling her if he drank her blood, he'd basically be Super Vampire for a week.

Things get a wee bit awkward.

Well... This is awkward. (My pups, btw)
In the end, he doesn't eat her for breakfast, and they end up in a shaky alliance. He'll carry her out of the middle of nowhere (so she doesn't leave a blood trail, she has bare feet), and she'll provide him with magic sunscreen. Match made in heaven, right?

They manage to escape, and go their separate ways, but Bo and his henchmen have other plans.

Dun dun dun.....

The Vampire:
Constantine is one of my favorite vampire heroes, because he's not so embarrassingly attractive you imagine he looks like a girl (Edward Cullen, anyone?). He's described as being the color of old mushrooms (fresh ones, when he gets a sip of water), his hair lanky and black, with bog-water murky green eyes. Real Prince Charming type of handsome.

This is a book I encourage most people to read if they're looking for a good vampire book, infused with a dash of humor. This is one of my best loved books for the genre.

The Ending:
Some people are disappointed with the ending, because of a lack of definitive resolution. I was slightly, but I have an imagination and choose to use it when authors let me. I like this.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars for the love of vampires! As Neil Gaiman said, "Pretty much perfect."

Some foul language, and also sex, though not really what you'd expect. Mentions of perma-hard-ons for vampires, though we never learn if that is true. Also, on Goodreads, it's labeled "Young Adult", while I consider this "New Adult". The protagonist is NOT a teen.

Page Count: 405 pages for my Mass Market Paperback

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