This book came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of me. When Nikki contacted me to ask about me reviewing Sunshine, I have to admit that I was a little hesitant. I’d never heard of this author or these books before, but the glowing Goodreads reviews and high rating convinced me. Plus, it’s really hard for me to say no to a dark romance. That’s sort of my thing 😉
But something weird kind of happened…I didn’t quite realize that it was paranormal! Either I noticed at first and then promptly forgot, or never quite grasped the concept in the first place for some reason, but I had quite a shock when, a third of the way through the book, it wasn’t exactly the dark contemporary that I’d been expecting. I didn’t think that the paranormal elements ended up being bad, but for me personally, it didn’t add all that much to the plot. I was loving the story before it became paranormal, and continued to love it after, but never really “got” why it was included. It seemed almost out of place. I’m sure that those elements will become more pronounced as the series continues (due to how this book ended), but as of now I’m left with a lot of lingering questions and I kind of wish that, if Nikki wanted to write a paranormal book, she wouldn’t written a paranormal book…instead of dark romance that was about 10% vampire. It just didn’t seem that important to the story at all, although I’m interested to see how it will all play out.
What I did love about this book was the romance. And the characters. Oh my gosh! I related to Sophie’s character so much. She’s a snarky girl who’s had to deal with a lot of shit in her life, and I couldn’t help but feel extremely empathetic towards her. It really resonated with me because of some personal experiences I’ve had, and watching Sophie slowly grow and come out of her shell was so rewarding. Sophie was such a realistic character and so easy to connect with. And Myles! That handsome devil. I adored their sweet friends-to-lovers relationship. He took such good care of Sophie, and even I kind of fell in love with him a little bit! And I really liked the side characters as well! Every character in this book is very strongly developed and had their own unique personality that I grew to (at least for most of them) love and appreciate. I especially enjoyed Sophie’s relationship with her brother Jade, as I love reading about sibling relationships.
Another thing I really appreciated about this book was how LGBT characters were dealt with. It’s one of the only books I’ve read in which there are gay characters who are just…there. Their gayness isn’t discussed and doesn’t become an “issue.” And there’s three of them! That made me so happy.
The only other little things that I didn’t love about this book are that I found the writing at the beginning of the book to be a bit choppy and the dialogue slightly immature. But a couple chapters later, it seemed to resolve itself and the book really came into its own. I almost completely forgot about the slightly rough start because I quickly fell in love with the writing as it continued. A couple parts even got me a little teary-eyed! Sophie’s voice was very strong and, at times, so beautiful.
The other small thing is the weird character names. It doesn’t really matter, but it took me a little bit to get used to the people being called things like “Boo,” “Trei,” and “Barbie.” Eventually, though, it didn’t bother me anymore and the characters almost began to actually fit their names as time went on.
Ultimately, this book was awesome and I’m so happy that I took a chance on it! I’m definitely going to be continuing with the series and I’d highly recommend it to fans of dark romances, YA that borders NA, light paranormal plot lines, and very relatable and developed characters.
I love this series. It’s beautiful, unique, and emotional. But, to be honest, Sun Poisoned wasn’t my favorite. The last 25% of this book was 5-star worthy for sure…but the previous 75% was only around 3 stars for me. It definitely suffered from second-book syndrome.
What made the last part of this book so good was the intensity and raw emotion that swelled from the pages. I wouldn’t say that Rae’s writing is gorgeous and flowing or anything, but the whole thing is so very human; It’s like I’m reading Sophie’s diary or something. I really liked Sunshine because of how much it made me feel, so I was disappointed when I started this one and it wasn’t as good…but eventually it became amazing, which makes me very hopeful about what Sun Damage has in store. I felt very connected to the book during the last 25% and even immediately started the third one once I flipped to the last page, because I couldn’t wait one second more without knowing what was going to happen. It’s rare that I connect to a book on such a deep level, but I really relate to Sophie’s character, and the struggles that she goes through in Sun Poisoned, especially in the second half of the book, were so real to me and made my reading experience feel very personal and almost even visceral.
Besides how much I related to this book, another favorite aspect of this series is the background characters. They’re all so fleshed out and have such different personalities. I especially love Boo and Trei, Sophie’s best friends. I didn’t think that Myles shined as much in Sun Poisoned as he did in Sunshine, but the characters in general were still a great feature of this novel and really make it special and unlike other paranormal series.
One thing that I specifically had an issue with was this big “thing” that happens in the middle of the book. It was supposed to be a very powerful moment and is really important to each of the characters’ growth from that point on. But, unfortunately, I had trouble having a strong emotional response to this event because of how the series is set up. I can’t go into a ton of detail, but I’m just going to say that something happens to one of the background characters that I really liked in the first book. I think that, if this thing had occurred during the first book (which I understand would’ve been impossible due to plot and length, but just humor me), or if I’d read the second book immediately after the first book, I would’ve had a much stronger reaction to it. It would’ve completely changed how good I thought this book was. I think that maybe, because an author probably has trouble seeing their series from the average reader’s perspective, that it’s possible Rae didn’t take into consideration that the “thing” would’ve had more impact if that character had been in the beginning of the second book more (they’re only in one scene before the “thing” happens at around the 50% mark). I just didn’t feel as connected to them, because they weren’t as important in Sun Poisoned as they were in Sunshine, so I had trouble reacting to it like I would’ve had I read the series all in one chunk.
And, like I mentioned before, I also do feel like this book somewhat suffers from second-book syndrome. Thank god there wasn’t a new love interest or anything, but I did feel like the plot was meandering and there wasn’t even really much of one at all until the last little bit. It definitely served to set up a lot of things and characters that will be extremely important in Sun Damage, but it didn’t stand on its own very well. Although I did honestly love the last 25%, so that made me feel a lot better about the whole thing and now I’m very excited to find out how the whole thing ends.
I had a feeling about it and I was right…Sun Damage was awesome! I liked it a lot more than Sun Poisoned and it was the perfect wrap-up to the series. Overall, I am just so impressed by these books. When Rae approached me to review them, I was hesitant. I’d never even heard of her or the books before and paranormal romance isn’t always a favorite genre of mine, but I decided to at least check the first one out when I saw how highly rated they were on Goodreads. And I have to admit, the synopsis had me intrigued. Well Sunshine did not disappoint and it only made me want more! I’m so glad that I took on these books to review and I’m extremely excited about starting her next series.
What I really liked about Sun Damage was how fast-paced it was, how emotionally involved I was in Sophie’s problems, and how all of the questions I’ve had since the first book were finally answered. Everything fell into place, all in ways that I wasn’t at all expecting. Once again, the characters of this series the things that truly make it great. Each of them is so interesting and complex. I wish that we’d gotten a little bit more of Evan in this book, as he was so important in Sun Poisoned and I was sure that there was more to his story, and I was also disappointed with how little Sophie’s family was in the book, because it seemed like they were still having some pretty big issues that didn’t ever really get resolved. But all of the other characters really shined in Sun Damage, especially Michael, Manny, Myles, and Sophie.
I also thought that the writing in this book was superior to both of the previous ones. There were quite a few lyrical passages that I really enjoyed reading.
“I have never felt more at home than this, his chest against mine, skin touching skin, heart against heart. Some part of me has searched my entire life for a place where I just fit. It wasn’t with my parents or with the people at school. With my family and friends, I thought I had found it. With a piano, it made more sense. But this. This is where eery broken piece of me fits in to. Every nick, bruise, and crack disappears, like it never even existed before this moment.”
My main problem with this book, and the reason why I’m not giving it 5 stars, is that I wasn’t super in love with the ending of the book, specifically the epilogue. The stuff that happens with Sophie at the end of the book itself (before the epilogue) was kind of…weird. It was unexpected and I’m not really sure what the point of it was, but I thought it was sort of interesting and I mostly liked it. Sophie really comes into her own in this book, and I really enjoyed watching her blossom and grow in the end. It was very touching, especially since I felt such a strong connection with her and her story throughout the series.
But I thought that how everything wrapped up with her and Myles in the end was just a little too easy. There’s also a lot of vampire-y stuff that they talk about in the epilogue that just doesn’t seem…right. Like Rae was kind of pulling stuff out of her ass that would never exist in real life, even if vampires really did exist. I guess, in general, I’m just more of a fan of realistic endings instead of ones that fit together just a little too perfectly, especially in this case since much of the series was so dark and emotionally gritty. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about the ending, since it was at least a little bit bittersweet. But it bothered me enough that I couldn’t rate it a full 5 stars.
Ultimately, though, this series is incredible. I’m so happy that I decided to read it, and it’s definitely going to be one that I recommend a lot, since it seems to be fairly underrated. Rae’s ability to create such realistic and lovable characters is something that is truly unique and special about this series. I won’t ever forget Sophie! She definitely has become one of my favorite YA/New Adult heroines.