Review: Shine Shine Shine

Shine Shine Shine

Shine Shine Shine
By Lydia Netzer
(St. Martin’s Press, Hardcover, 9781250007070, July 2012,  320pp.)

The Short of It:

A story about a weird, modern family wading through love as they know it.

The Rest of It:

Maxon is a Nobel Prize winning scientist on a mission to colonize the moon. The robots he’s created for the purpose are lifelike in that they can talk and interact just like humans. Back on Earth, his wife Sunny raises their 4-year-old autistic son, Robert (Bubber) and awaits the birth of their second child. When communication with the capsule is lost due to a meteor hit,  both are left to ponder the lives they’ve lived and the mistakes they’ve made along the way.

Sometimes you read a book and then sometimes you experience one. This book is full of moments and experiences so unlike my own, that it’s a hard book to describe. The characters are quirky but in an odd way. Not a fun way. For example, Sunny was born hairless. No eyebrows, no eyelashes. At first, she covers it up with wigs and custom hair pieces, but when she loses communication with Maxon, she decides to leave herself unadorned for the world to see. During all of this, Sunny’s mother is also on her deathbed, connected to tubing and not able to breathe on her own. The tethers of life in both her mother’s situation and Maxon’s are failing in a big way, and Sunny is slowly coming unglued.

Maxon, on the other hand, is the more stable of the two or so he appears to be. His ability to become detached or distant, is a plus when his mission is jeopardized.  His ability to think clearly in times of crisis is admirable, yet also a bit disturbing given that he has so much to lose. Hyper focused or positive attitude? You never really know with Maxon. It’s almost as if he’s one of his robots. Calculated. Precise. Dependable. Reliable. As most of you may have guessed, this also equals, boring.

It’s clear from the beginning that Sunny is resentful of the life she’s lived with Maxon. Although Maxon is a very successful scientist, Sunny’s mother begged her not to get involved with him when he fell for her as a child. The two as children, seemed to be connected and although they went about their lives with school and college, that connection was never lost. However, in the real world of raising an autistic child, struggling with the day-to-day “hassle” that has become her life, Sunny finds herself  frustrated and worried that her next child will also be autistic and where is Maxon in all of this? In space.

I did not enjoy this book while reading it, but in hindsight, there are things that I appreciated about it afterward. The feeling of loss and isolation for both Maxon and Sunny is really quite well done and necessary since both characters are not terribly verbal in expressing their thoughts.

In summary, the book left me a bit cold. The characters, all of them, lacked warmth and understanding and the second half was rather difficult to get through. I don’t need warm, likable characters to like a book but I need to feel a pulse and the characters were a little too “out there” for me. I never really understood where they were coming from and in turn, didn’t really care where they were headed.

I will say this, there are some beautiful lines. Lines in which I read two, three and four times for their beauty. This is Netzer’s debut novel and although ultimately it didn’t work for me, I’d absolutely give her writing another try.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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28 thoughts on “Review: Shine Shine Shine”

  1. I’ve got this loaded on my iPod. It is Joshilyn Jackson’s first audio narration gig besides her own, and I’m wondering if her voice will change the tone of this book. I’m excited to find out.

    1. Now THAT’s interesting. The book comes across as very cold and clinical. I’m not sure how anyone could read it any other way, but it will be interesting to find out.

  2. Hmm . . . not good weird, huh? I can do quirky weird, but only if the characters endear themselves to me. I’ve seen reviews of this one and wondered if it would be something I’d like, but I’m not so sure! Thanks for your informative and honest take!

    1. I would have liked it if the Maxon had been explored a little bit more. His story was much more interesting than Sunny’s. Or, if more was said about their childhood. When they were children, they were charming. As adults, not so much.

    1. It’s wasn’t even the space stuff that was out there. It was Sunny’s life with her mom and the history they had together. I also didn’t care for Sunny calling her mom “the mother” while she was on her deathbed. Really made it seem clinical and sterile.

  3. This book sounds messed up — reminds me a bit of Scarlett Thomas who I find maddening but I can’t stop reading. I’m totally adding this to the TBR but we’ll see if I can stick to it — it’s kind of creepy/fascinating sounding!

    1. There is a creep factor but I’m not sure it’s intentional. Just the idea (and frankly, the visual) of a hairless woman walking around town totally weirded me out.

  4. I don’t know why, but that animated movie with the little robot came to mind as I read your review. I can’t remember the name off hand. Completely different. Anyway, I am not sure I would pick this one up to read based on the description alone; though, it does sound like such an interesting premise.

  5. This does indeed sound like a strange book, and one that I am not sure I would like. I don’t like weird characters just for the sake of weirdness. It smacks me as a ply to make books more interesting than they really are. But what you’ve said about the connections and disconnection of the family really speaks to me for some reason. I think I am going to have the opportunity to listen to this one on audio, and like Sandy, I am excited that Joshilyn Jackson is narrating. I will have to let you know what I think of it when I eventually get to it! Very nice review today, by the way!

  6. The chance of those beautiful lines are exactly why I have a hard time ever putting down a book. No matter how little I like it, it seems that so many of them have those little nuggets.

  7. Sounds different to me for sure, but kudos to you for saying that you would give the author another chance! The next one could be great!

  8. I really enjoyed this title. In some ways it magnifies the issues to force us to consider them. And the characters, although their back stories are unusual, from my experience people just like these live amongst us. The characters are simply looking at their lives through what I would call an extremely honest lense, and dealing with issues common to all of us, such as bullying and judgement. I agree it is not a fun read, so can completely understand it is not a title for everyone.

    1. I like the lens comparison. It did feel as if they were both under a lens, so to speak. I liked the way they were tethered to reality. I think ultimately if I had like Sunny’s character more, I would have liked the book a lot more than I did.

  9. This one didn’t interest me in the least. Beautiful lines are one thing, story is something else. Maybe I’ll give her next one a try. Thanks for the honest review.

  10. I read the first 40 or 50 pages of this book and couldn’t find the energy to go back to it. After 30 pages, my reading became more and more slow. I wasn’t invested in the characters at all. I found them cold, as you said, and kind of strange not in a good way. I also didn’t find any writing good enough to keep me reading but I probably didn’t get to the lines you found beautiful.
    I might try the auther’s next book, I’m not sure

  11. I’ve been seeing this book all over the place and have definitely been curious about it! I guess I will wait to see how this author’s next book is, or see if Sandy enjoyed the audioversion. Thanks for the review Ti! Sorry I haven’t been by much lately…I took a new job a couple weeks ago so I’ve been busy learning the ropes!

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