Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: "Sunshine" by Nikki Rae

One of the biggest sins in the industry of books, literature, and written work is that people seem to only get their hands on the work that is introduced to them in a recognizable fashion. This means through mass market sales, advertisement, whether or not a movie will be coming out for this film, Oprah, or the New York Times. Beyond these flashy medians are plenty of other novels written by lesser known authors that are looking for their opportunity to shine. These are known as "indie authors" and if this term sounds familiar through how it is used to describe lesser known films, the term "indie" means the same thing. Nikki Rae, the author of the Sunshine trilogy (Sunshine came out last January, Sun Poisoned in June, and Sun Damaged will be out March 28th), is an new adult indie author in both respects. One, she exemplifies an author that is doing all of the work in promoting her name and writing and comes out with new material. Two, she's an "independent author" to the extent that "indie author" is being defined at this point in time. Since she was unable to seek approval with a publishing company, she went to self-publishing and is doing a relatively successful job. This review will be on Sunshine, the only novel from her that is currently in print (though I would imagine Sun Poisoned will follow shortly).

Sophie Jean lives an aggravating life to say the very least. She has a condition that causes a sensitivity to the sun and requires that she wear a massive amount of protection when going outdoors. Her over the top mother, whom I swear has is either a Hypochondriac or a subject to Bipolar Disorder, has pushed her to attend the doctor so he could engage in an operation that will cure her of this condition. By the time we are settled in to Sophie's world, we are also settled in to the fact that Sophie wants nothing more than to transition out of the demanding life she's living in order to follow her own path and dream of becoming a performer in a rock band with her friends, Boo and Trei. Boo and Trei are siblings and happen to be Sophie's closest friends. Their chemistry provides the obvious sibling waves, as if they're Bert and Ernie (even though we should know by now Bert and Ernie aren't siblings), which brings me to Sophie's siblings. She has two younger sisters and two older brothers, one of which make up the light-hearted gay couple of Jade and Stevie. Adam is the nurturer and looks after the siblings when their mother goes off the wall, while her sisters provide Sophie and the other older siblings with reason to nurture.

Sophie works at a bookstore in the mall, which is where she meets Myles, who would inevitably become her love interest. Myles starts as a tag-along, participates in her English class, and then throughout the story grows closer and closer to Sophie. Sophie is hesitant to opening up to him, for a horrific event at the junior prom has caused her to shut herself from people in society, especially the males. Unfortunately for Sophie, Myles pops up suspiciously whenever she seems to be in what is either a harmful or stressful situation. As much as she tries to hide this from Myles, he knows. Myles also sounds quite innocent when he presents himself to Sophie. He could come off as being very suspicious and sly, but he's more like a Bloodhound than he is a fox with regard to his attitude. We later learn that he is, in fact, a vampire that's several hundred years old. On top of that, he bears plenty of responsibility and resistance and will do anything and everything to make sure that Sophie is loved and that she is safe from those villainous demons that also happen to be vampires, even if it means putting Sophie through quite a hell ride and one that could rank along those rides she's been along throughout her past.

Sunshine would be categorized best as a new adult paranormal romance. If you're looking for a horror fiction piece that displays vampires in what is close to their original state or as vicious creatures, this may not be exactly what you are looking for. Sunshine strays a little bit closer to the direction of Twilight, but does not make an attempt to murder the impression we have on vampires and werewolves. What Sunshine excels at is being a meaningful novel that gives us a reason to care for and adore Sophie Jean and those around her. We love who we love and hold bitter hatred toward those who provide harm to Sophie, whether it be her mother, her ex-boyfriend, Barbie (who's a snobby, "popular" high school "type"), or even the music teacher. The meaningful characters allow me to enjoy the rest of the novel as well. I was able to continue reading and enjoying the piece, regardless as to where I was.

I feel that on one hand, the paranormal elements resemble many stereotypes that have been used in plenty of the young and new adult works of the current day. You really need to be into paranormal romance or have the ability to tolerate some of their core elements to appreciate this work. On the other hand, Sophie is somebody you can sympathize with, even if she's aloof to the point that she's the kind of person that would want to shut herself from anybody who's concerned about how she is feeling. There are plenty of introverts in this society!

What I know for sure is that given the potential, the Sunshine trilogy could garner itself a loyal following the way that Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have. If Nikki Rae continues to come out with good material, this series, along with her other works that are in progress, will be able to create the necessary recognition that she deserves. This is exactly the kind of story that attracts droves of people and turns into mass market films that people go and watch, so the jump shouldn't be too high.

Sun Damaged, the last novel in the series, will be out on March 28th in ebook form. For now, you can find and enjoy Sunshine in ebook and trade paperback and Sun Poisoned in ebook.

Verdict: 7/10  


  1. Although this isn't related to your post, it was nice reading the article that you wrote and submitted for the alumni edition of the Bulldog Business last month. Who knows, there could be an alumni edition every year or so!

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Kevin! I, too, hope that an alumni edition of the Bulldog Business will be an annual tradition.