Down with the Shine Hardcover – April 26, 2016
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From School Library Journal
“Sharp, funny, and amiable, Lennie’s narration feels a lot like a modern-day Scout’s. Contemporary fiction with a touch of magic and a hint of horror, Quinn’s latest defies traditional labels and offers readers a different sort of fictitious escape.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Successfully blends thriller and fantasy elements for a high-stakes, careful-what-you-wish-for story. A unique, often clever take on family legacies and high school desires with wide appeal.” (ALA Booklist)
“A darkly intelligent novel for readers who prefer flawed heroines and ambiguous endings that aren’t tied up in a pretty little ‘they all lived happily ever after’ bow.” (School Library Journal)
“Quinn’s previous titles have involved dark, labyrinthine plots, but here she moves into black humor, doing so with revelry and aplomb.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
PRAISE FOR KATE KARYUS QUINN: “Quinn is a gifted writer. Understanding the rules of Gardnerville is like deciphering an intricate puzzle or being locked in a dream.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A distinctive, supernatural read.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Quinn’s newest mystery is a complicated thriller with lots of twists, turns, and a large dose of fantasy.” (ALA Booklist)
“Fans of Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls (Dutton, 2011) will enjoy this dark and magical surrealism.” (School Library Journal)
“Quinn blends eloquent prose and startling imagery to create a truly creepy small town. Will find an audience among fans of Brenna Yovanoff (The Replacement) and Dia Reeves (Bleeding Violet).” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
- Publisher : HarperTeen (April 26, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062356046
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062356048
- Reading age : 13 - 17 years
- Grade level : 8 - 9
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 1.3 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #989,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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Our narrator for this wild ride is Lennie Cash, and she’s had a difficult life. Her father is a most-wanted criminal, so she lives with her withdrawn, distant mother and her three uncles who distill and sell the titular moonshine. To complicate matters more, six months before the main events of the book, her best friend Dylan (Dyl, for short) was brutally murdered, and Dyl’s twin brother Smith holds a grudge.
This rich backstory is rolled out nicely at the start, and it provides several plausible reasons for Lennie to be an outsider to the social strata at school. Senior year is about to begin, and Lennie’s ready to say a big “screw you all!” to the popular clique by crashing Michaela’s annual party with her uncles’ moonshine in tow. Little does she know how screwed everyone there is going to get!
The setup is brilliant. Lennie offers up sips of moonshine like she’s the queen of the party, making everyone do the little wish-making ritual she had observed her uncles doing when they sell the stuff. Lennie leaves the party, but at sunrise the next morning, ALL OF THE WISHES have come true, in that be-careful-what-you-wish-for, watch-the-proper-wording kind of way. Lennie’s in deep trouble with her uncles for reasons beyond simply stealing their moonshine, and there’s complete and utter chaos at Michaela’s house.
The chapters that took place at the party were so vividly described that I could see all the craziness so easily in my head. Author Quinn was clever in how she showed the variety of wishes: Lennie remembered who wished what upon seeing the aftermath. That made it more fun than going through everyone’s wish-making scenes. And the wishes had believable variety for teenagers—silly ones made by drunk or goofy kids, and serious ones made by kids longing for something missing in their life. Michaela had wished her party will never end. One boy made a messy wish concerning Cheetos. Lennie wished that Dyl had never died.
I won’t spoil them all, but the YA-mermaid author in me wishes (uh oh, I’d better be careful) to know more about the girl wished for a mermaid tail. I also would have liked to know what happened to a popular girl’s overweight younger sister who wished to be smaller and was shrunk to pocket size but went missing (Note: a re-read of the scene gives a detail that now frightens me). It was the only instance of someone telling Lennie the wish without the reader seeing the effect in an otherwise gloriously bizarre carnival of wishes gone wild.
Another element that worked so well was Lennie’s wish. I thought the ever-growing external chaos was a great metaphor for Lennie facing the internal torment of grief and guilt for Dyl’s death (especially now that she’s literally facing back-from-the-dead Dyl). How Quinn manages to resolve them both in the end was unexpected and satisfying how it showed tremendous character growth. It rose above the “wishes can’t be undone” rule often found in these kind of stories; here it’s nicely explained by one of Lennie’s uncles.
I’ll suspend my disbelief for crazy wishes coming true, and I’ll do it for some of the arbitrary rules of wish-making, wish-granting, and wish-fixing. But I had trouble doing so with Lennie’s father. He is ultimately introduced and his personality, actions, and motives seemed tonally different than the rest of the story. Though the backstory is somewhat necessary for Lennie’s character development, I felt like his appearance was one plot thread too many at the expense of fully developing the romance or staying at the party longer to deal with the wishes. Even the details of Dyl’s death are grisly and seem out of place; she probably could have died a number of different ways that still would’ve caused Lennie to feel guilt and/or grief.
Overall, the writing is sharp and vivid and witty and twisted (in a mostly good way), and Lennie’s growth is exceptionally handled. Though one character and the details surrounding him left a bad aftertaste, the rest of the book went down so smoothly, I’d wish for more to drink at that party. Down with the Shine wasn’t too hard to swallow at FOUR AND A HALF STARS.
With as much darkness as Lennie faces -- Quinn doesn't shy away from the tough stuff: parental neglect and some pretty shocking abuse, violence and gangland-style murder -- it's a long, hard road to her realizing just how much she truly shines. That Quinn pulls this off with a wry, sprightly humor and the dark absurdity of a Wonderland on Red Bull makes this book a wish come true.
This book had a lot of potential -- a LOT of potential. It involves murder, child abandonment, incest, romance, etc. Though, it kind of fell...flat for me. I could only get through half of the book before finally giving up. Honest to God, I hate it when that happens!
The protagonist, Lennie, uses her uncles’ magic moonshine to grant wishes for her classmates at a house party and things get pretty crazy....then, well, just sort of silly. NO, a LOT silly. One guy wishes for “The Cheeto Touch,” meaning that every thing he touches turns into Cheetos....and one kid wishes for bat wings. Oh! And one guy wishes for his balls to be made out of steel.... Granted, they were drunk whilst making these wishes but are teenagers really that juvenile? My two year old niece would make those wishes!
I think Dylan would have made a much more interesting protagonist in this book. There’s more depth to her character. Lennie was just dull and useless. There was nothing admirable about her. Of course, maybe her upbringing had a lot to do with her cluelessness. Her mother is emotionally distant. Her uncles are unfit parents. Her criminal father abandoned her as a child.
I think this book could have been better if the author had actually took the time to study what real teenagers are like. I hope I come back to it someday though, because I just can’t stand it when I leave a book unfinished.
Top reviews from other countries
I was pulled into the book at the beginning because of the events that unfurled straight away!! Hello, who wouldn’t want to know more about that! As it carried on and led up to the party, and even after the party, I was enjoying the book. Even the morning after the party had me snorting away in a very un-lady like manner! Some of the wishes that were made were just hilarious - and very clearly the product of drunk teenagers!!
However, it all started to come crashing down at about 50% of the way through the book! It all became a little bit jumbled and very far fetched - with pretty much no explanation whatsoever! I was a little bit confused and had quite a few questions that never really got answered. There was no explanation as to why there are people in the world with special abilities - where did the come from or why do they have special abilities when other people don’t?
I liked the main character (Lennie) well enough. She was easily relatable and someone who I could be friends with. She was, however, as clueless as us readers. She had no idea what she was doing or how to undo what she had done the night before. I also liked her uncles! Whilst they were a little bit rough around the edges, they were pretty funny and they cared about Lennie, even if they didn’t really show it in a conventional kind of way!
Dylan sort of bugged me. She is someone, I think, who, if I met in real life, we would probably be constantly arguing! She seems to think that her ‘life’ (and I use the term loosely here - people who have already read this will understand!) sucked, when it wasn’t really that bad. She was more content to see the worst in everything and, in my opinion, act out, then make something of her life.
The ending was a HUGE disappointment!!! I was expecting something major and explosive and there just wasn’t. In actual fact, it made very little sense, considering the explanations the readers were given throughout the book! When the book ended, I just sort of sat there, stared at my kindle, wondering what the hell had just happened. It needed more pizazz and to make more sense.
Overall, this book was a quick read, with some very quirky characters and funny moments (W2, looking at you, here). I was, however, largely disappointed because I expected more! It could have something to do with the fact that I had hyped it up in my head… or maybe because I recently finished ACOMAF and I am still reeling and mind boggled from that!!! I gave this book 3/5 stars.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Feel free to leave comments!