Sun Poisoned

Sun Poisoned

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Sunshine. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Sun Poisoned was written by Nikki Rae and first published in 2013. The novel forms the second part of The Sunshine Series, preceded by Sunshine (2013) and followed by Sun Damage (2014). As this novel carries on directly where Sunshine left off, I’d advise reading the stories in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Sophie Jean’s life is looking up. She’s finally managed to move out of her parents’ home and now lives in central New York with the rest of her band. Myles has set them up a regular gig playing at a nightclub called Midnight and, best of all, people seem to love them. All of her dreams have finally come true and for the first time in her life she’s truly happy.

However, things can’t last. She finds it hard to adapt to a life surrounded by vampires. Although Myles has started to be more open about his supernatural side, there are still many things that he hasn’t shared with her. As Sophie hangs around with Ava, Evan’s human girlfriend, she starts to learn that Myles is keeping some huge secrets from her. Ones that could put her life in danger.

When tragedy strikes, Sophie is forced to question just how strong her relationship with Myles is. She loves him but is it possible to be with someone who only seems to tell half-truths? Sophie though that she’d put her dark past behind her but the monsters have followed her and now they’re more dangerous than ever…

This is another one of those novels that I’m worried that I don’t fully understand. Like with Soulwoven: Exile, this book has received a whole bunch of really positive reviews on Goodreads. Perhaps it’s just that it didn’t speak to me or I’ve overlooked something fundamental. Personally, I felt that it succumbed it second novel syndrome in the worst possible way.

To begin by saying something positive, the saving grace of Sun Poisoned was its writing. Although her prose can be a little purple in places, it’s clear that Rae is a good writer. Her writing flows smoothly and is very evocative, suiting the melancholic tone of the novel well. Although there were a few cosmetic errors in the text, it was a pretty easy book to read and Sophie’s voice came across strongly in the first person narrative. My only real issue with it was that it was occasionally too restrictive, as the action scenes became rather confused as whenever Sophie lost consciousness (this happened regularly over the climax), the writing just sort of fell apart.

Yet, beyond the written style, most of the rest of the novel was a bit of a disappointment. When I reviewed Sunshine, I commented that it was slow burning. Sun Poisoned is a step worse again. Nothing of substance happened until the final quarter of the story. Up until then, the novel is largely taken up by Sophie describing her daily life, detailing her new job day in, day out. We see her getting ready for bed (often), fretting about her inability to read music, practicing with both her own band and others, and building a pillow fort with her sister. The supernatural elements are still really downplayed to the degree that Myles’s vampirism is sometimes forgotten for chapters at a time.

This is a frequent problem that I find with the middle books of trilogies. They just don’t exist as complete stories in their own right. While stuff did happen in the novel, it largely felt frivolous. It didn’t really advance my understanding of anything. In fact, the questions that were left hanging by Sunshine were still left unanswered. I’m none the wiser as to who Sophie’s father is or why Michael wants her dead. The novel implies once again that there is something “different” about Sophie but doesn’t clue the reader into what it is. The only real important plot points that occur are in the last couple of chapters, the rest is unfortunately filler.

The characterisation also suffers in this story. The thing I loved most about Sunshine was Sophie. She was surprisingly well developed for a protagonist in a paranormal romance story as the focus was more on her overcoming her inner demons than on her pining over her true love. There is unfortunately much less of this in Sun Poisoned. Sophie has gotten over her depression remarkably easily and now just comes across as being insufferably self-centred. Regardless of the situation, she just seems chronically unable to see the bigger picture.

A good example of this is when her brother Jade suffers a horrible traumatic ordeal. The event itself was problematic to begin with but I can’t talk about that in detail here because of spoilers. What I will talk about is Sophie’s reaction to it. Here is her brother, grief stricken and depressed. He says he wants to be alone as he can’t take facing anyone. Sophie seems almost offended by this, devastated that Jade won’t see her. She doesn’t seem to empathise with him at all. In fact, she seems to be more upset about the fact that Jade won’t accept her support.

Most of the other characters in the novel are shunted into the background. There is a little more about Evan and Ava but neither character appears enough to make much of an impression. Boo and Trei are still supporting characters but they have no bearing on the story whatsoever and we still don’t really find out anything solid about Michael. The only other character that really has any impact is Myles and I find that I’m rapidly growing tired of him.

While I did find Myles to be sweet and refreshingly different in the first story, I’m starting to feel that he’s just a bit too meek now. Despite being a 400 year old vampire, he’s quite happy to be pushed around by Sophie and even broods for her whenever she decides that she hates him. I also don’t really understand his need to keep lying to her. While some of his lies are huge, others seem pretty insignificant. I know that he doesn’t like to be a vampire around her but Sophie’s been aware of what he is for months. There’s no real need to keep her entirely in the dark anymore. This seemed like a really weak basis for any kind of relationship, leaving me wondering if the two of them are actually good for each other.

I really don’t have a lot more to say about this one. Sun Poisoned was nowhere near as strong a novel as Sunshine and left me feeling very underwhelmed. I will probably look at Sun Damage at some point just to see how the series ends but I’m in no hurry to do so any time soon.

Sun Poisoned can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook from Amazon.co.uk

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