Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

“I'd heard a saying about meth, that it took you down one of three roads: jail, the psych ward, or death.”
― Lauren Myracle, Shine

Synopsis: When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice

Shine first came on my radar with the drama over The National Book Award debacle, where Lauren Myracle was accidentally nominated and asked to back out. The synopsis intrigued me, so I finally picked this book up.

Shine is the story of Cat, a teenaged girl on the journey for answers when her former best friend, Patrick is the victim of an extremely violent hate crime. Along the way  she learns the dark secrets and hidden realities of the town she lives in.

This books starts off brilliantly, there is a certain atmospheric writing style that Myrcale uses that just brings you in to the world of the story.  You very quickly learn the life that Cat leads.The setting, Black Creek, North Carolina is a back woods town with a  lot of backwards thinking. One of the biggest problems plaguing the town is meth.

There are a lot of rich characters in the novel and you start to feel for them. This reminds me very much of To Kill a Mockingbird, where the context of the story is so much involved in learning about the people in the town. The only thing is their  is no Atticus Finch in this story. None of the characters are paticularly redeeming or good, not even Cat herself. I think Robert,an eleven year old who was born addicted to drugs and yearns for attention from the older teenagers stood out the most for me.

This is a tough stuff novel, it deals with the less pleasent things in life and if that doesn't suit you this isn't the novel for you. One thing I did notice is despite it opening with a hate crime against a gay male this isn't a book focused on issues in the LBGT community. This book is more about social prejudices, meth and the downward spiral drug use goes.

For me the weakest point in this book is Jason, the love interest for Cat. He added absolutley nothing to the book and he didn't do anything. He only appears on about 10 pages or so, and the character felt like a waste and he just felt to "convenient".

I also wans't a big fan of the ending of this book. The decisions the characters made  just didn't sit well with me or come off as believable.

I can see why this book was nominated for an award and I defiantly think it has a lot of potential for teens to learn from it. I think Lauren Myrcale is an amazing writer and writes about a worth while topic, however overall I had some issues with the story.


  1. I hate that this book wasn't a complete hit for you--I read really great reviews of this book, but I, too, hate when the ending just doesn't cut it.

    I like what you point out about the setting--it sounds A LOT like my hometown (very backwoods. the entire county doesn't have a red light, and the area is plagued by meth labs and addicts). I just bought this book, and your notes about the setting make me want to pick up soon!

  2. Really detailed and nicely analyzed review! Haven't heard of this one beforehand, but from your listed points, there are some pretty big issues there o_o no doubt. If a book is missing memorable characters, then the story has a hole in it :( Really enjoyed your review, though!

    Your blog is SO cute >_< I'm a new follower :) Drop by my place sometime, I'd love to hear from you! <3

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  3. I'm not a big fan of books set in my home state that reflect on it negatively, because for all the bad things that can be said, NC really is a lovely place to live and grow up. But besides that I'm intrigued by the fact that the main character felt the need to investigate her friend's death on her own. I can only imagine what kind of journey that took her on. Not a fan of boyfriends haphazardly thrown into a story that has no bearing on the plot or main character whatsoever. A SO shouldn't be filler. Overall I don't think this book is for me, but you wrote a lovely, in depth review. Thanks!

  4. I won this book and can't wait to read it. I'm glad you pointed out that the book doesn't focus a lot on LGBTQ themes but more social prejudice in general - because I was expecting it to be the opposite! Even without reading it, it does sound like the love interest wasn't needed! Nonetheless, I can't wait to read this book and see what you mean about the ending :)


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