Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Down with the Shine


Down with the ShineAuthor: Kate Karyus Quinn
Series: standalone
Released: April 26th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 355 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Lennie always thought her uncles’ “important family legacy” was good old-fashioned bootlegging. Then she takes some of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s annual house party, and finds out just how wrong she was.
At the party, Lennie has everyone make a wish before drinking the shine—it’s tradition. She toasts to wishes for bat wings, for balls of steel, for the party to go on forever. Lennie even makes a wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was murdered six months ago.
The next morning gives Lennie a whole new understanding of the phrase be careful what you wish for—or in her case, be careful what wishes you grant. Because all those wishes Lennie raised a jar of shine to last night? They came true. Most of them came out bad. And once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

Down with the Shine, Kate Karyus Quinn’s third novel, starts with a prologue that promises a dark, twisted and very unusual book. The promise is strengthened by our knowledge about Quinn’s previous works, which were always gritty and weird enough to stand out. In Down with the Shine, Quinn takes her unusual approach even further by mixing ideas and genres, albeit with questionable results. It is, it would appear, entirely possible to try a bit too hard to be innovative and fresh. In many ways, this book reminded me of Bad Taste in Boys, but while Bad Taste was purposely silly and hilarious, Down with the Shine failed to be even that.

‘Be careful what you wish for’ is something we’ve all said many times in our lives, but rarely do we really stop to consider the possible consequences of our hidden desires coming true. Quinn explores the cost of wishes made haphazardly by a group of drunken teens, ranging from bat wings to love returned. Not a single wish turns out like the person wanted it to, and the results are often disastrous.

As the daughter of a famous criminal, Lennie always found it hard to fit in. In an effort to join the popular crowd, she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and follows the tradition of granting wishes, not knowing they would actually come true. Lennie makes many mistakes from the start, but she’s actually the least to blame. The adults in her life failed her spectacularly, and her choice in friends and love interests left a lot to be desired. Her infatuation with her best friend’s brother made little sense from the start, and the more I witnessed their interactions, the more I wanted Lennie far, far away from Smith.

I suppose Quinn was aiming for a darkly humorous tone, but Down with the Shine was neither particularly dark (dismembered bodies notwithstanding), nor was it successful in being humorous. That’s the main difference between this book and Bad Taste in Boys – the latter was ridiculous, but also hilarious. It helped that the book is compulsively readable and entertaining, although never laugh-out-loud funny. Quinn’s prose isn’t thick or pretentious, which makes it very easy to absorb, and she does know how to surprise her readers on every turn. While Down with the Shine isn’t her best work, it can be an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

14 comments:

  1. I love Quinn for the simple reason that she always gives us something different and even unique and always quirky.

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  2. Yes, I think trying to be too unique and original can be a bad thing. Still, I like the idea behind this one. I'm curious.

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  3. it's too bad about the surprise. The idea sounded good but well too bad it's not a bit more than that

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  4. I was curious about this book. I saw it everywhere when it was released. I don't think it's the right book for me.

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  5. I haven't read anything by her just yet, but she's on my list of authors to try. This looked like it had a good premise, but the fact that the humor and the darkness didn't work is a shame. I'll have to pick something else if I ever get to reading it.
    Wonderful review, Maja!

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  6. I keep meaning to read this author! I have one of her books in my TBR pile that I keep meaning to read! This is another I had high hopes for because of its somewhat magical twist. Sad to hear it wasn't everything you hoped for, but glad it was still a fun read! Nice review!

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  7. Ah well. There goes my hope that this one will save my not-so great opinion about her work. I didn't enjoy her debut a few years ago, but I remained optimistic about this one. Sigh.

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  8. Lovely review Maja. I have yet to try this author.

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  9. The premise sounds interesting

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  10. Hm... not sure if this one is for me. I am thinking no if it wasn't successful at being dark or humorous. On the other hand, I haven't read Bad Taste in Boys, but might now. :)

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  11. Excellent. Her best work yet. Kate's work gets stronger with every effort.
    Great read.

    Mariz
    Look at Ford Injectors

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  12. The premise is definitely very interesting but i agree, It tries to funny but fails big time..

    Completely agree with your views.
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

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  13. Sad that this one wasn’t too great for you–I really liked (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME, and want to give this one a try. Great review!! :D

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  14. Sounds like a mixed bag, but not horrible. Still, I think I'll pass. Glad to hear you enjoyed it somewhat. Great review, Maja! :)

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