Summary from Goodreads:
This is not a ghost story even though there are plenty of ghosts in it. And it’s not a horror story though some people might be horrified. It’s not a monster story either, even though there is a monster in it and that monster happens to be me.
Forced to hide herself away from the superstitious island community of Mirasol, thirteen-year-old Rosa seeks solace online. There she meets Ansel95, and as the friendship moves from virtual to real, Rosa discovers that she’s not the only one with something to hide..
From the author of the critically-acclaimed Tall Story, comes a haunting, intense and moving novel which weaves myths and ghosts into a modern setting. As Rosa’s social life blossoms, how will she seize the freedom to be who she really is.
Last week, The Filipino Group at Goodreads held an activity where members were challenged to read and finish a young-adult book of their choice in a little over 24 hours. Although I didn’t “officially” joined the activity, I decided to pick a YA book for my next read (even though it was not in my “schedule”) because I was inspired by all the YA books and reviews that flooded my Goodreads feed. Yes, I am easily influenced like that! 😀
Shine by Candy Gourlay was a page-turner. It started with a very intriguing prologue where I was immediately introduced to the town of Mirasol where the rain never seemed to stop. And then one of the characters proceeded to tell a story about monsters that was reminiscent of the the ghost and horror stories my grandmother used to tell me and my siblings before we went to sleep.
Just like the author’s other book, Tall Story, I loved the Filipino elements in Shine. I really liked how Candy Gourlay weaved Filipino superstition and folklore into a very engaging plot. It was the Yaya (Nanny) that actually sealed the deal and I loved how she was portrayed in the story: comically firm and strong in her beliefs.
It was so easy to get into the flow of the story because of the easy narrative. Rosa was a typical teenager with her “girl” problems concerning a boy. I liked her relationship with her Yaya (nanny) and her father. The alternative narrative of Kara and Kat was equally intriguing. It added more substance to the story and the chapters concerning these two characters were the ones that kept me reading until the end.
The simplicity of the writing made reading more bearable and despite being a young-adult novel, the themes explored c0uld well be applicable to adults. Are the ghosts we fear really real? Do monsters really exist? How do we really know a person? Why is it easy for us to judge a person based on his/her appearance? How does it feel to be excluded and feared by many because of a disability or sickness?
And then there was the issue on identity and friendship forged over the internet. I loved how the book explored the culture of cyberspace and the persons we create of ourselves behind the computer. This is a very relevant concern not only among teenagers but for every person who has an internet persona. How much is real? How much is not?
Indeed, Shine was not a horror/ghost story in the sense that I commonly perceive a horror/ghost story to be. In this book, I wasn’t afraid of the dead people. I was more afraid of the living.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My copy: Signed paperback published by Anvil Publishing Inc.