Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of Shine by Lauren Myracle

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Pages: 376
Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: May 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9780810984172

Source: NetGalley

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.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

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.