Sunshine (Sunshine #1) by Nikki Rae

Published: January 28, 2013
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 330
Format: Ebook
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal/Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

18 year old Sophie Jean is pretty good at acting normal. Sure, she’s not exactly happy, but happiness is nothing compared to being like everyone else. She can pretend she’s not allergic to the sun. She can hide what her ex-boyfriend did to her. She can cover up the scars she’s made for herself. Ignore anything. Forget anything. Then Myles enters her life, and he has more than a few secrets of his own. When accident after accident keeps happening to Sophie, she can’t help noticing that he’s everywhere. That he knows too much. That she’s remembering too much.

 Suddenly, those who were monsters before are just people, and the monsters? They’re real. Now being a normal human being is the least of her problems. Now she has to stay alive.

Note: I was asked for a review by the author.

I was interrupted by so many things reading this book (apologies Nikki it took so long!) but by the end of it I was engrossed, and that was something I was not expecting. This was an excellent book, and if we’re honest it was extremely hard to find the words to review it. I did so many drafts, the ability to ramble about what makes this a great story seem endless, and the fact I was trying not to simply describe the book to you was hard, hence the multiple retries.

Sunshine is about a girl called Sophie who has Solar Urticaria, meaning she is allergic to the sun. She lives her life as best she can, as she always has, trying to be normal when she constantly feels abnormal. As the story begins we’re introduced to Sophie and we’re immediately introduced to her condition and how she deals with it. In these opening chapters we see an insight into Sophie’s life through her eyes, about her condition, her mother, her sisters Laura and Leena, as well as her brother, Jade.

As a character Sophie is an anxious girl, she is wary of relationships and trusting people and that comes across clearly. It is mentioned a lot, especially around her developing friendship and relationship with Myles, but her reasons are explained and you can understand it more as the thought process of what goes through her mind when it happens. Where we see more of the real Sophie is around her friends Boo and Trei, when Sophie is around them there is a different side to her, one who jokes and rocks out in a band. The difference between the two levels is evident and we get a feeling of how Sophie feelings change through Rae’s descriptions and Sophie’s reactions.

The introduction Rae’s given us to the world as a whole is not flawless but it is done quite well, and the paranormal and supernatural elements in this book are there but not an overbearing feature. Having read nothing else similar as a comparison, I enjoyed the pace and the balance between the regular and the paranormal. Nothing is rapidly sprung on reader (or character) with no real instance of instant acceptance and understanding by characters which can be a downfall when colliding reality and the supernatural, but Rae manages this balance well.

The various relationships in this book are well written and diverse. The relationship Sophie has with her mother is tense, but her affection for her stepfather is wonderful. Rae captures the family dynamic between Sophie, her brother and sisters quite well and there is a strong sibling connection that shows even through the arguments as well as the love and support.

I really adore some of these characters. Myles is a character I was surprised to like almost instantly. His own secrets and uncertainty make him quite wonderful as he tries so hard to fit in himself, while still trying to be there for Sophie, make new friends and try and make sure everything is going to be ok.

He and Sophie are very similar which is why their relationship works. They both are people who have close friends but feel separated from the rest of the world as well. Their relationship moves from constantly waiting for the other one to realise how strange they believe themselves to be and run off, until finally understanding that they can help one another.

You have to pity Myles for his initial meeting with Sophie but when we get to see her side of things it balances things out. Embarrassment and defense mechanisms are hard defaults to override and the way we see Sophie break these down over the course of the book are excellent. There is a slow emergence after numerous hasty retreats and second thoughts and seeing her character grow is really nice.

Other characters I adored are Stevie and Jade. Jade’s relationship as Sophie’s brother and the relationship he has with his boyfriend Stevie is wonderful. What makes Jade and Stevie exceptional characters is that Rae doesn’t make them imposing but they show understanding and support in other ways and in simple gestures like being there at key moments and helping Sophie when she doesn’t even ask. The sibling relationship is beautiful; it makes and develops Jade’s character and position as a brother by how he sees Sophie and how he acts with her. Rae uses their conversations and gestures as a way to show not tell and while it seems basic, it actually shows much more than if they were more prominent.

Content wise there are some serious personal issues shown and discussed in this book but Rae does it without making it an overbearing factor, but she also doesn’t shy away or glorify it either. The way it is shown and talked about seems to be handled with care and realism, something that brings the emotions and understanding to the surface and reduces the risk of making it dramatic or flippant.

What I love particularly is the ending and the way Rae has written it, especially the moments of confusion and uncertainty. The fact we see all of this from Sophie’s point of view we experience everything she does and with the chaos of the concluding chapters I love that we don’t really know what is going on because Sophie doesn’t know what is going on.

Rae writes these moments of confusion very well, and the emotions and feelings and moments of fading and unconsciousness Sophie experiences are well described. What Sophie goes through is captured without telling or rushing. Again, the length of time that passes in this book makes the story better. Nothing is brushed over or rushed and this adds to the reality and the suspense the story generates. Because we are seeing this through Sophie’s eyes we gain a lot more than if it was a third person narrative. The room for deeper emotions adds more meaning to the story, especially crucial in one that explores things Rae does in this novel.

In terms of writing there are a few description sentences where things like clothing is explained, they stand out slightly but not in an annoying way but perhaps there is room for a more fluid inclusion as they occasionally have purpose behind their mention. Though really, with her writing and storytelling Rae draws you in with character and plot so well that the rest is pretty much unimportant. Characters drive this story and they bring the intrigue, mystery, and excitement along with them that leave you hanging out for the next book.

To learn more about Nikki and her work here are the usual suspects
Author page
The Sunshine Series page

Where to find her books
Sunshine on Amazon
Sun Poisoned (Book #2) on Amazon
Barnes and Noble