Shine is captivating right from the very beginning. It opens with a news article detailing the attack on Patrick: he was bashed with a baseball bat and left bound to a gas pump, nozzle duct taped in his mouth, with the words 'suck this, faggot' written on his chest. We immediately know what happened, and we're quickly thrust into Cat's investigation.
The setting - Black Creek - was vividly described and realistic. It was as troubled as you'd expect a backwoods Southern town to be. After the paper mill closed down, a lot of the townspeople lost their jobs and resorted to either running or using meth. Poverty is widespread, and only three kids are in the next year's senior class. The characters all were created such that they felt like the belonged in the setting. They were all fleshed out with distinct personalities and backgrounds. The characters develop subtly and realistically, given their situations.
The mystery was well-plotted, and though it could have been solved faster objectively, it felt more realistic that Cat should take a while to get her head around the idea of someone she never would have expected doing such a horrible thing to her friend.
Shine is written in compelling and descriptive prose, and unflinchingly explores issues like drug use, rape and prejudice. I like Lauren Myracle's later books, which tackle darker themes in a raw tone, holding nothing back.
I give Shine a 4 out of 5.