NYRB Classics collector. Reads anything, so long as it's good. Sometimes historian. Frequently grumpy: you've been warned. Also at aliceunderskies.tumblr.com.
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.