I devoured Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn. I knocked this thing back like it was three fingers of moonshine and then breathed fire for it.
The short version: the book is brilliant. Inventive, edgy, fun, snarky, gritty, and even a little bleak in places. It’s a mouthful, and the characters, I am happy to report, are not afraid of swearing. How refreshing to see teenagers curse in fiction for a change. How refreshing to see the innuendo and acknowledgement of teenagers’ sex lives; their wants and desires, the social strata of high school, the challenges of growing up in difficult situations; where the parents are the villains and the kids grow up just a bit dysfunctional as a result.
Quinn tells the whole story, and then loops back to rewrite it in parts to seal the deal on a narrative that is fun and dark and dangerous.
I’m reminded of Holly Black’s Darkest Part of the Forest, but without the fairies. Or Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz. Or Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Or The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman: real kids with real problems, and real kids dealing with those problems like they were real kids — who also have hormones. The result is a good balance between a collection of wants and drivers and desires that create problems from end to beginning, and a tightly hemmed plot that hits all the right notes and still manages to surprise the reader.
In this case the problem is that the protagonist, Lennie Cash, can grant wishes and she doesn’t even know it. It’s part of a family legacy, but her family neglected to tell her this little nugget of information before Lennie heads out for the evening with three stolen bottles of moonshine and the willingness to mess up all the shitty people from her high school at Michaela Gordon’s annual house party.
Predictably, Chaos ensues, and as Lennie and her friends try to fix it, things inevitably get worse.
If you were a fan of Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, I’d imagine this is probably up your alley. (Hell, if you like well-written stories with solid characters who’ve got a bit of grit, you’d probably enjoy it.)
I’m knocking off a half a point for the abrupt appearance of Rabbit and a little loose editing wherein there were a few repetitions in close proximity, but otherwise the book was great.
Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus QuinnDown with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Published by HarperTeen on April 26th 2016
Check it out: Goodreads
Make a wish…
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…