My Thoughts on “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl”

WARNING: SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK.

Keep in mind I have not seen the Youtube web series that this book is based off of. My judgement is based purely on the novel itself.

Read synopsis here.

Buckle up, guys, this is going to be a long one.

My reading of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. One minute I’m completely enthralled by the characters and storyline. The next, I’m bored by YA tropes and tired clichés.

Pros: 

The pacing. I, personally, think the pacing is the book’s greatest strength. The only part where it lags is when Nolan tries to convince Sunshine she is a luiseach. I, and I’m assuming most readers at this point, have seen this done a million times so it bogs down the momentum the story is building up. More on this later.

Sunshine and her mother. I like the uniquely intimate relationship Sunshine has with her mother. In most YA ,the parents are either brushed aside, or made out to be complete jerks so it’s nice to see a change of pace with this story. It also makes her mother’s possession all the more devastating.

The romance. THERE IS NO CONVOLUTED LOVE TRIANGLE!!

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I also appreciate that the writer (or writers) is taking their time with developing the relationship between Nolan and Sunshine rather than just shoving them together or forcing an unnecessary third-party into the mix. The main focus stays on the demon possessing her mother as it should.

Atmosphere. Atmosphere is one of the central components in a horror book and helps set the tone for what is to come. I was deeply engaged throughout the author’s descriptions of the house and found myself easily able to map out each room. More impressively, the writer was able to do this without slowing down the pacing.

Victoria Wilde. I can’t think of why, but Victoria was one of the most believable characters in the novel for me. You can sense with every scene she was in just how tired and aggrieved she was by what had happened to her and her family. I honestly wish there had been more about her.

Cons: 

Sunshine. At the beginning of the novel, I adored her. I loved the strange name she gave her taxidermied owl (Dr. Hoo), I loved her strange glass unicorn collection, I loved her relationship with her adopted mother, and thought her narrative voice was compelling.

Then, without warning, her character falls down the rabbit hole into Tropeland and she becomes less and less like a real teenage girl and more like a fanfic version. I know she’s supposed to be more into old things than the normal person, but it was really off-putting to hear a 21st century girl say “gollly” or “gosh” unironically.

Also, I’m sorry, but Sunshine is a stupid name.

There, I said it. They explain in the book why she was named this, but I’m sure there are plenty of female names that mean “sunshine” or “light-bringer” so actually naming her “Sunshine” makes it sound like her mother was a hippie. Which, if you’ve read the book, is very much not the case.

Nolan. I like Nolan, but I can’t help feeling he is criminally underdeveloped. I appreciate that he isn’t your traditional hot jock, or jaded loner, but I wish there was more to him. Most of what we learn about him revolves around his grandfather in some fashion. We don’t know what his home life is like, what his hobbies are, what his social status in relation to his peers is, nothing.

Also, I groaned a bit when Victoria reveals Nolan is destined to be Sunshine’s “protector” now so they’re forever bonded. Can’t people just be people who do things because of their own motivations and character rather than because of “destiny”?

Yer a wizard, Sunshine. Unquestionably, the most annoying part of the book is when Sunshine fervently denies being a luiseach, prompting a completely unnecessary argument between her and Nolan.

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The chapter “Why Are We Fighting?” was very aptly named as I couldn’t find a single justification for it. It’s not even an actual fight, Sunshine just hurls unwarranted abuse at Nolan and he deflects. Evidently, the answer to the chapter’s question is: Because the writer says we’re supposed to.

I can’t think of an explanation as to why she would dismiss Nolan’s claims either. Hell, they have proof that ghosts exist and are capable of manipulating the living’s environment and even possessing people. Taking all of that into consideration, why is the fact that she’s a psychic so hard for her to believe?

Honestly, the logical gaff isn’t what gets me with this scene. What bothers me is that I’ve seen this a million times before, and it’s not even done well in this case. The writer makes no attempt to disguise the fact that the only reason they are having this argument is so she can get Nolan out of the way for a chapter or so.

When they finally reconcile, Nolan all but blows the event off like it was never that big of a deal. I thought this was a wasted opportunity to give him some character development. I guess their fallout really did happen for no reason. Well, damn.

Final thoughts: 

Based on this lengthy diatribe, you probably think I hated this book. I didn’t. Actually I enjoyed it quite a bit. I just wish I would have liked it more. If I were to give this book a grade, I would say somewhere between B and B-.

I recommend this to anyone looking for something to read on a cold, rainy day.

I Can’t Write At Home. The Internet Wants My Soul

Out of curiosity, how many of you guys write from home?

Because I can’t.

I’ve tried but, for whatever reason, being at home just feeds my addiction to the internet.

I boot up my laptop, game face on and notes in my hand, only for my Facebook page to pop up on the screen like-

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Next thing I know, I’m on Youtube and watching videos on how to survive a nuclear fallout.

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In order to get down to business, I must journey to a coffee shop or restaurant and spend two to three hours typing away while mindlessly nibbling or sipping their wares.

This isn’t always a convenient arrangement as sometimes the weather is not favorable for travel, or sometimes I don’t complete my daily responsibilities until later when these places are closed.

Oh, that’s fine, I say to myself, I’ll just get some writing done at home. 

Internet:

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The answer seems simple: disconnect from the WiFi.

However, even if I do that, I will become distracted by something else. I’ll watch a movie I purchased on iTunes. I’ll look through my photos I took on vacation. I’ll edit a silly video I made on iMovie.

There’s a cornucopia of possibilities for mindless activities.

I suppose I’ll just have to consider these places my office for the time being and respect my inconvenient habits.

I suppose it’s better than not writing at all.

Sucking (Writing) a Little Every Day

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “You must write every day!”

I hear it every time I read an author interview, when I read a book on writing, or when watching a Youtube video featuring a prominent writing figure.

No exceptions! You have to write at least a little bit every day.

I’m trying to ease my way into that habit.

I love writing so, truth be told, it isn’t that difficult.

What is difficult is making myself stop reading the previous sentence I just typed and thinking “Oh my God, this is awful.”

That’s how I get stuck on most days. Every line I write is awful and somewhere out there, there is a thirteen year-old that just finished their first novel on Wattpad and is going to be an overnight international sensation. Warner Brothers will buy the rights to their movies and they will be cemented as the greatest young writers of their time.

Don’t look at me like that. That’s totally a thing that happens.

Regardless, I’m going to try to keep at it.

I will suck a little bit every day until I stop.

Nothing is preventing me from moving forward except for myself. Namely, my love for all that is good and literary.

Still, statistically, it has to get better.

My Thoughts On “Uprooted”By Naomi Novik Becoming a Movie

WARNING: THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE NOVEL “UPROOTED.” IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK AND WISH TO DO SO, DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS POST.  

So after finally finishing Naomi Novik’s excellent fantasy novel, Uprooted, I decided to do more research on her via her website. I was thrilled to discover she’s written several other books that I will greedily dive into as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

While perusing her page, I also discovered some interesting news regarding Uprooted.

Novik proudly announced  Warner Brothers will be making a movie based on the novel.

My reaction to this news:

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It may seem weird that I’m resistant to the idea of an Uprooted movie, especially because I enjoyed the book so much.

But here’s the thing, regardless of how well-written a book is, some novels just aren’t meant to be translated into a visual medium.

The Lovely Bones was one book, and I believe Uprooted is another.

“But Rachael,” you say, “Uprooted was full of beautiful imagery and action-packed scenes. Surely you can’t be suggesting Uprooted wouldn’t look gorgeous on the big screen!”

The imagery was one of the most appealing aspects of this book. However, what also made the book so vibrant and powerful were the metaphors and descriptions.

All of which would work for the book only.

It’s not nearly as impactful if we’re just being flashed CGI imagery we’ve seen a million times. I want to be able to feel what the characters are feelings like I can in the book.

The way Novik describes magic is so much more personal than any other writer I’ve come across. It’s not just a bunch of fancy made-up words, it’s part of a person’s essence. It’s an individual language that can transcend conventional understanding. It’s an experience.

This entire book is an experience.

To strip away all of that depth and detail to just a visual?

It’ll be like a fantasy version of The Happening.

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Well….okay…not that bad.

Still.

Freaking CGI tree-people. I don’t think I will be able to take that seriously.

Especially since it will likely be morphed into an “OMG save the trees!” message.

To be fair, the book did that to a certain extent but…it was complicated, okay?

Thinking of the cinematic portrayal of the relationship between The Dragon and Agnieszka fills me with terror as well.

Especially because their relationship isn’t entirely conventional. Yeah, they smash and they clearly like each other, but it was never really a “for sure” thing between the two of them.

Hollywood will turn it into an all out bleeding-heart kissing-in-the-rain romance that involves a lot of soaked through clothes and sex.

Let’s face it, the movies do subtlety as well as Edward Scissorhands knits sweaters.

Again, I say, CGI tree-people.

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How many books must that accursed industry claim?!

Thoughts on “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry”

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE NOVEL. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Synopsis can be found here.

Positives: 

It has a unique premise. There aren’t enough stories about grandparents and their grandchildren. I think this is a shame since they often share such a strong bond and I, personally, have nothing but love for mine.

I love Granny! Granny was the rockstar of the whole novel, even though she died towards the beginning. I desperately want a prequel that follows Granny’s life and misadventures. They gave her a lot of backstory, but the character-writer in me was drooling for more. I saw the author wrote another book about Britt-Marie, who was way less interesting, so why not write one for old Granny as well? Based on what he’s created for her, he has material for days

It references Harry Potter and the X-men shamelessly. I loved Elsa’s obsession with stories, particularly Harry Potter. She wears a Gryffindor scarf all the time which says a lot about her character. She believes in heroes like Harry and wants to become one herself.

The characters were memorable. I wouldn’t say they popped off the page, but they each had depth and a sympathetic side. Even the ones that Elsa (and I) found the most annoying. I’d have to say Elsa’s mom is my second favorite character. She’s just too cool and it was fun seeing her Granny side come out when she was giving birth to Halfie. Elsa’s dad was so lame and Type A, he made me laugh.

It had a satisfying conclusion that saw a fitting end for each character that lived in Elsa’s building. Some people might think the Epilogue went on for too long, describing the things that happened to everyone, but I liked knowing their happy endings. 

Negatives:

Elsa was way too smart for a 7 year-old. Yes, I get that she’s supposed to be precocious for her age, but in many places the writer pushed my ability to suspend disbelief.

The repetition got old after a while. Sometimes it was cute and gave the piece symmetry. But after chapters and chapters of it, I got tired of hearing the same lines being repeated ad nauseam like “she hated him for that” or “she loved her for that.” I also got bored of hearing about Britt-Marie’s floral print jacket. It’s cool. You don’t have to remind us she wears that everyday. We get it. 

Seriously, Elsa-

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……Sorry,  I had to do that at least once.

The villain wasn’t really present for most of the story. I liked the idea of Sam, the abusive father to the boy with the syndrome, but I wished we’d seen more of him. He was characterized as a Shadow most of the time, which is why I think he didn’t have any speaking parts. Perhaps it shouldn’t bother me this much that he didn’t have anything to say. I just thought it would make him more human, which is what the point of the book is.

It’s like Granny said, no one is a complete shit or not a complete shit. We all have a little shit inside of us.

Or something to that effect.

Overall, I thought it was a good read. I recommend it to anyone that believes in the magic of imagination and a grandmother’s love.