Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

8088Blurb:

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..

Review:

For my sanity, I need to stop reading any books that are marketed towards fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Because spoiler alert: none of these books are ever like Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sunshine is about a normal girl–seriously cannot express how numbingly normal this girl is–who, guess what!, is nicknamed Sunshine (gag) and finds herself tangled up in a supernatural battle after being kidnapped by vampires. 

Sunshine wakes up every morning at 4am to bake cinnamon rolls for the family bakery. Sunshine likes to spend time in the sun. Sunshine spends pages and pages describing her family, her friends, her cinnamon rolls, her cherry tarts, her apple pies, and her bakery’s customers even though it’s terribly uninteresting and nobody cares. Sunshine does not like to talk about the fact that she’s a powerful sorceress or the fact that she’s embroiled in a war between vampires and humans or the fact that she is party to a very tense, strange, and unexplained sex scene with a vampire midway through her story. Sunshine doesn’t like to talk about anything that is of actual importance or interest. Sunshine makes cinnamon rolls at 4am every morning, though, and Sunshine loves to talk about that. Sunshine manages to kill a vampire with a butter knife, which should be nigh impossible and definitely merits some investigation, but Sunshine doesn’t really mention it afterward. Sunshine is too busy baking cinnamon rolls at 4am.

Sunshine and Sunshine are deathly dull.

2 out of 5 stars

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Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

4407Blurb:

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what and who it finds there…

Review:

Full disclosure:

I wikipedia’d the ending of American Gods. Because I was 70% finished and still utterly uninvested in the characters and unrolling of plot. Here’s what I discovered on the wiki: almost all the excitement must take place in the final 30%!

Evidence:
 photo e46dc30c-de2a-4a45-9488-6a699cabbaf5_zpsb8ffb8ee.png

Half of the wikipedia summary is devoted to the final quarter of the novel!

I’m a very forgiving person when it comes to litcrit, but one thing I can’t forgive in a book is boringness! And oh how I was bored! I read American Gods sporadically. The beginning caught my attention but as the book went on, nothing interesting happened. Worse, the protagonist’s personality has less flavor than the BRAT diet I’m currently consuming to recover from the stomach flu.

Like this protagonist is DULL. Another thing I can’t forgive: when things are super enigmatic and it’s obvious that questions MUST BE ASKED, but for NO APPARENT REASON, a character REFUSES TO ASK THESE MUST BE ASKED QUESTIONS. I think most authors use this lack of curiosity on the part of the protag as a way to increase reader interest. Obviously a story isn’t much fun if there is no mystery.

[Imagine the Harry Potter series with more forthright, less pussyfooted characters when it came to #realtalk:

Harry: Yo Dumbledore, why did Voldemort try to kill me but fail and then give me this bizarro lightning scar and now we seem fated to like, kill each other or something?

Dumbledore: Well young Harry, there is a prophecy…

Harry: …Oh]

But I find it hard to enjoy a story when I can feel an author purposely withholding information from me to serve his own storytelling purposes. Gaiman had some super ideas here. It’s an amazing metaphor for American belief and its paradoxical modernity/antiquity and its oft-discussed role as a ‘melting pot.’ I also have mad love for the Midwesterness at the core of this novel (Wisconsin!). Yet for me a story must excite, thrill, titillate…and as a story, American Gods fails.

2 out of 5 stars