An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
To begin, I owe an apology to Ms. Mckenzie. I reread that scene that pissed me off so much and it turns out Sunshine wasn't having a heart attack. So my bad. The scene was still really inaccurate, but I got that part wrong.
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl is the sequel to The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, where Sunshine learns how to be a proper luiseach. Along the way, she meets her birth father, struggles with romantic angst, and has a dangerous woman searching for her. We also learn about what caused the rift in the luiseach population and why Sunshine is so...sunshiney.
They need to stop advertising these books as "horror" and "scary". They're really not. Paranormal, sure, but not once do I ever feel afraid.
This book disappointed me. It was bad but not in a flavorful sort of way. The first one was so ridiculous that it was hard not to enjoy it. But this one was just bland. I'd go so far as to call it boring. And interestingly enough, this blandness came from the fact that there were areas in this book that were improvements from the first one. So let's start there.
Well, first, let me say I liked the fight against the fire demon. That was pretty cool.
Probably the major improvement in this book compared to it's predecessor is Sunshine was much more fleshed out as a character. She was more complex and didn't feel quite so stereotypical. And her Jane Austen love revolved around more books than just Pride and Prejudice. So while I wouldn't call her further characterization refreshing, since I still am not the biggest fan of Ms. Sunshine, it was nice to see that Mckenzie dove a little deeper into the character.
Another improvement is the way the plot actually contained some mystery. If you remember, in the first book we were literally told everything as it happened. There was no "what's wrong with Kat" or "is the house haunted or just creepy" sort of tension. In The Awakening, she actually leaves some mystery and it did make me want to keep reading to find out exactly what was going on.
That's about it as far as improvements I noted. And again, while it did make it as a piece of writing stronger, it seemed to take away the fun spice The Haunting had. Now that Sunshine is a more full character, there was no laughing at how ridiculous she was. Now that the plot was more logical and more mysterious, there were WAY less "what the shit?" moments. It improved in some areas but it failed to make sure the improvements added entertainment value.
We have a couple new characters and all of them are just pretty boring. Aidan could have been really cool but there was just no life in him. He was just the info dump guy. He had conflict in him but I never actually felt it coming from him. Lucio seemed to be nothing more than eye-candy for Sunshine. Seriously, I couldn't figure out any other reason why he might be there. Well, he helped her realize "the greater good" but he still didn't do much except provide biceps for Sunshine to look at. I love eye-candy, but I want my candy flavorful, not just pretty. Finally Helena just didn't do it for me, which is disappointing since I LOVE female baddies. And she's a murderous mom which could have been REALLY cool. She had malice but, like Aidan, I never actually felt it. Perhaps its a case of Mckenzie telling us too much again, rather than showing us. She never really felt sinister, despite the fact that I know she had evil plans.
I think this book could have been much more interesting if Sunshine actually learned things. Instead her progress was more like "don't get, don't get it, GOT IT", which was boring and felt cheap. I would have liked to see her gradually grow, rather than suddenly knowing what to do. Essentially, she's a "chosen one" written in the cliche way that causes people to hate the trope.
It was the end of the book that made me realize why this book disappointed me so much: this book is really just the filler between the first book and the third book that's apparently coming out. There's a big fight with the "darkness" and rather have that be more involved in the plot, Mckenzie chose to keep the focus on Sunshine's training and her angst over Nolan which did not make for a satisfying story. Sequels are hard, I understand that. But this book can not stand on its own satisfactorily and that is just flat out disappointing.
I don't know if I'll read the third one. I wish someone other than Mckenzie (or Alyssa Sheinmel, who's relationship to the story still doesn't make sense to me) had written this book, or that Mckenzie had waited until she was a little older. The concept is there. I really do love the concept of these books. The execution just isn't there.
Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars. I wouldn't recommend this one. Definitely read the first one though. It's fabulous and great with a nice glass of wine.