Thursday, January 26, 2012

Third Sentence Thursday

Third Sentence Thursday is a blog meme usually hosted by Proud Book Nerd. Not this week, it appears, but I decided to do it anyway. Here are the rules: "Take the book you are currently reading and post the third sentence of the third chapter. Feel free to share one or two of the following sentences, if you’d like."

This amuses me.

The third sentence of the third chapter (if it actually had chapters instead of sections) of Sunshine by Robin McKinley is:
"I both remembered and tried not to let myself quite remember what had happened."

The passage continues:
"This lasted for maybe ten seconds. I was still alive, so I wasn't dead yet. If it wanted me awake and struggling, to continue to appear unconscious was a good idea. I lay facing the door the gang had left by; which meant that the cross-legged vampire was behind me. . . . Don't think about it."

Sunshine, a talented baker, foolishly goes out to be alone with her thoughts by a lake that is known for its aura of bad magic. A gang of Suckers kidnaps her, forces her into a scarlet gown and drags her to one of the lake's abandoned mansions. They chain her to the wall in an empty ballroom and leave her there as food for a single vampire, who is sitting cross legged against the wall somewhere behind her.

Sunshine is one of my favorite books. I love the air of mystery that pervades the the whole thing. You never quite understand exactly who Constantine (her vampire) is, nor are you meant to. He just is. You never quite understand how the magic in New Arcadia works, nor are you meant to. It just is.

One of my biggest pet peeves about YA fantasy is when the author decides that it is absolutely necessary that she explain every little-bitty, intricate working of the system of magic she has created for her imaginary land. The reader then gets to sit patiently and listen to all its little rules and foibles explained, if not in great length, at least in great detail.

It always occurs to me that this isn't the way I think about things I am familiar with. I don't explain the workings of my computer to myself. I don't even really try to understand what it is doing. I just turn it on and check my email without thinking much about it. The only time I would think about it would be if it stopped working for some reason.

That is just how people work. If a character has grown up in a land where magic is common, where it is expected and normal, they probably wouldn't think much about it, and they certainly wouldn't explain it to themselves every chance they got.

Sunshine conveys this exactly and I think that is one of the reasons I love it so much. Sunshine lives in a world where magic and Other Beings are run of the mill. You see them everyday. She never explains the system of magic, though it clearly has constant rules. Sunshine and the reader must simply accept that this is how it works and this is how it has always worked.

And it's perfect and beautiful and mysterious.


  1. Ooh, this sounds good! I could feel the fear when she refers to the cross-legged vampire being behind her. Does he not want to drink her blood for Twilightesque moral reasons? I think I might need to find out!

    1. No,unlike Edward, Constantine has no moral inhibitions when it comes to blood. He does have an important reason for not killing her, though.

      Sunshine's only similarity to Twilight is the word "Vampire." :)

  2. I love this book so much!! I'm so glad to see you're another fan! Seriously, Sunshine was one of the first urban fantasy books I read (before I even realized that it was a separate sub-genre) and I freaking loved exactly what you were talking about, how she sort of lets you figure out how things work. This post made me happy :)