Note: I was asked for a review by the author
Life wasn’t what Sophie was expecting, so why should death be any different?
She’s come back from swimming between the two, and every problem she left is still there. And then some.
There’s the human world, where she has a brother on the verge of ruins, band mates all set to go on tour, and people she thought she wouldn’t be seeing for a long time showing up.
Then there’s her new world, where she’s seeing and hearing things that should not be heard or seen. Where Myles knows more about her than she could have ever guessed. She still doesn’t know exactly why Michael is tormenting her, but somehow, everything is connected.
The monsters are closing in on all sides and the question is, will Sophie be able to defeat them before it all ends?
The final book of The Sunshine Series was everything I have come to expect from Nikki Rae. The storytelling was filled with emotion, excitement, and an engagement that ensured you invested everything in the characters and story you were being told.
Sun Damage follows on from where Sun Poisoned left off to in-part quell all the anticipation Rae left us with last time. But do not expect any immediate solutions, one of my favourite things Rae does is give us a realistic environment amongst this paranormal world. Illness and injury needs time to repair and life goes on. The balance and struggle between the normal and paranormal is shown through the tour Sophie and her band go on, and we also see how Sophie is coping with all that has happened to her.
The continuity and the connection this series has to its past books is part of its charm. The life and relationship of Sophie and her friends is established and we only see more of it exposed and develop through the series. A key difference from previous books is that we get to see Myles’ point of view in addition to Sophie’s, an act which adds a whole other level to the story we’re given and have been told.
Because the story is told from both Myles and Sophie’s perspective, we do get a further insight into Myles’ character, but what you realise as more is revealed throughout the book, is that Myles is keeping secrets from the reader as much as he is withholding from Sophie. We don’t gain a lot of additional information by seeing things as Myles sees them, though what we’re given is significant. While we learn some things in advance, others are hidden until it is time for Sophie to know, until a time when the story requires it.
And you could analyse it and ask questions about more information but you don’t need it, there is just enough to explain, just enough to make it work in the context, and just enough to make you ok that there are some small mysteries in the world. More is explained vaguely and without direct reference than anything else which was fantastic, it’s explained to readers, probably to Sophie as well, without the need for it to be addressed directly. Even the characters don’t try to know everything, they just do the best they can in the situations they find themselves in. That is why it works, we accept their acceptance and you really do seem to understand everything with the explanations provided and what has played out.
I have to say, Sophie in this was a joy to read, we’ve seen how Rae expresses Sophie’s confusion and emotion previously, but what Sophie goes through, what she experiences and feels through this book is fantastic and half of the enjoyment from this book I got from getting caught up in Sophie and the actions and events around her.
There are key sentences that make your ears prick up and you go, “ooo that’s interesting” while there are others that cause you to gasp and read mouth agape. From page one Rae can change everything in a single sentence that alters what you thought you knew and then when you resettle she will spark a new series of questions a few chapters later with another single line. Your heart jumps as you make assumptions, knowing there is a full chance they may come true based on past experience and books. You cannot help but gasp with excitement and wonder and you find yourself being pulled along by these characters, flying through the pages, dragged along by the interest and investment in their lives and the world around them. It’s exhilarating, even when the narrative pace is slow.
Pace is once again wonderful, properly wonderful. The mystery and the continual issues that Sophie faces are wonderful. There is no instant solution, but nor it is drawn out so far that you tire of the problem either. Everything is new, and you see new sides of many characters and watch them become confused and pained as they all try and help. And truly, we all need a Jade in our life, we really do. From the moment the book starts until the end, reading about Jade was one the real joys of this book, and has been through the whole series.
I didn’t talk much if at all about the lyrics that open each chapter in my past reviews. They suit so perfectly to each corresponding chapter, they do in all the books but I noticed it especially in this one. And as usual noticing a few familiar and favourite bands is always a bonus. The music is also a key factor in the series, not just as a plot point but as an escape for Sophie. Her piano and music convey and calm her emotions really well and we gain an understanding of the role it plays in her life.
There is so much I could rave about in this book. I got to a point when I was just enjoying the story and engaged so much with the characters and I remembered I was supposed to be reviewing it and I couldn’t just keep blindly enjoying it, I had to find some faults. So I sat there and thought about the scene, and I thought about the few that came before it and I couldn’t find any so you keep going. Then at the next moment of emotions and exhilaration I forced myself to pause and go, there must be some fault, don’t praise it for no true reason, but I couldn’t and gave up trying.
I’m not a complete fool, I understand books are not to everyone’s tastes and I think if anywhere the ending may be where there is some contention. Personally I loved it, I had a long think about it and I really do. There is a line in there from Sophie that makes you understand why it is ok. Seeing how Rae has created this series, seen where it has come from, seen how Sophie has evolved, this final book is the best ending it could have been given. I think the way Rae builds us up to it, as well as the information and experience we have had with the other books, it is understandable how it comes to the conclusion it does.
I’m sure someone will find negatives, they always do, but I enjoyed this book a lot. Throughout this book, and the whole series to be honest, you get swept up in characters and they pull you along, you get involved in the story and the untold conversations and hidden mysteries you didn’t even know were there. Filled with moments of excited gasps and stifled noises of delight and excitement Sun Damage is definitely a fitting end to the series.