Monday, May 16, 2011


Shine by Lauren Myracle
Abrams, 2011
350 pages
YA; Contemporary
4.5/5 stars

Source: Received a free e-galley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had read at least one of Myracle's TTYL series and was thus familiar with what I thought was her style.  Then I read this AMAZING review by Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, which alerted me that I would be getting something else entirely.

This story opens on the news that Patrick, a gay teenager, has been brutally assaulted and is in a coma with little optimism about his future condition.  The story then shifts to Cat, formerly best friends with Patrick but withdrawn since an incident three years earlier.  Of course she is still devastated by the treatment of Patrick and begins investigating who would have committed such a heinous act.  Her immediate thoughts are a gang of toughs including her brother Christian (who she easily absolves), Tommy (her bane), Beef (the nice guy), and Dupree (druggie).  Although Patrick ran with their crowd, they never fully accepted him; although those were her prime suspects, there were options aplenty.

Surprisingly for me, I fingered the perpetrator much earlier than Cat did but that's also partly because the book unfolded at a pretty leisurely pace, as descriptions of the landscape and characters as well as flashbacks are tantalizingly revealed.  She was blinded by her memory while I looked beyond to the darker side.

Besides Cat's investigation, there is a lot going on in this novel.  Cat and her brother have had a fractured relationship that is somewhat repaired through the book.  She also becomes a stronger person, recovering from the incident that had caused her to cut everyone out of her life.  Cat gets a love interest in, what was to me, a pretty uninteresting side story with a blah guy. And I read about one of the most annoying characters ever, Robert (seriously-pretty much no one in the book could tolerate him either).

The setting is a rural town, somewhat reminding me of Winter's Bone and Justified's environments especially when the meth cooking and addictions were added in.  Additionally because of the setting there was a great sense of isolation.  Unlike many 16 year-olds in contemporary books, Cat does not have a cell phone and must rely on either a landline or traveling by bike.  Guns also play a big part in the final denouement, which strikes me as very accurate for the setting.

Language: A lot of four letter f-words as well as the six letter derogatory f-word for a gay person-fitting for the context but still shocking for me to read.

Overall: A gripping story of the ties in a small-town led by a heroine who gains strength and purpose.

Cover:  I feel like the cover suggests a happier story but amidst the darkness there is light and beauty so I guess it works.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the sound of the premise. I'd read this sort of teenage drama. Also, the cober is really beautiful. Great review!


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