Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: August 13, 2015
Format: eARC via Net Galley
Goodreads || Book Depository
Kat can’t believe her family are sending her to Sweden for the summer. But without her friends, or even a phone signal, can Kat make it on her own?
In a land of saunas, nudity and summer sun, Kat soon realises she has nowhere to hide. It’s time to embrace who she really is, underneath what she’s been thinking people want her to be. Especially if she’s going to win the heart of mega fit Swede Leo! Can Kat find her inner strength and prove she’s got what it takes?
Kat soon finds that when you’re surrounded by phosphorescence and wonder it’s easy to sparkle. Or maybe that’s what happens when you fall in love . Or maybe you only shine when you’re true to yourself.
I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher but all thoughts in this review are my own honest opinion.
This was my very first encounter with Jenny McLachlan’s writing. Sunkissed, from what I understand, is the third book in a 4-book companion series (think Stephanie Perkins, and her Anna, Lola and Isla series) that features one girl from a group of four friends in each book. These can be read as standalone novels, and I read Sunkissed without having read the two preceding books.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. When I first started reading, I had a lot of problems connecting with the writing and with Kat. She’s a 15 year old girl, so she came across as very juvenile at the beginning. Because it was narrated from her point of view, it made the writing feel very juvenile too and I almost felt like I was too old for the book. However, once I got used to the writing style and the pace, I started to let that go and enjoy the story.
I had issues with Kat for probably the first 100 pages. She was a bit bratty and whiny, and I just did not like her character. She was very obsessed with her hair and her nails and I just found her to be kind of off-putting. She did grow on me as the book progressed though and I thought she became more mature. But, at times, it also felt as though the author intentionally made Kat’s character very dislikable so that it would make her character development seem greater than it actually was. And that’s kind of a trope that I’m sick of seeing. Why not make your characters likeable from the very beginning?
I don’t think my opinion of Kat changed my feelings about the story though. It was a very fun and summery story, with a very unique setting. There were some parts of the plot that felt cliched. The plot reminded me a little of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, and I kept having to distance myself from that book. There were definitely some things that I think needed some more development, and the last 50 or so pages felt very rushed. I wish I had gotten to enjoy and savour that last part of the book a little more. I also didn’t enjoy the romance aspect of the book – it felt like something I had read many times before. My first impression of the romance was that the author was trying too hard not to make it insta-lovey but it ended up being kind of insta-lovey anyway. Having said that, I did like how it ended, although it was probably a little bit unrealistic.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I finished it in one sitting. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I was a little bit younger or still in high school. But I would still recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a fun, summer read that is set in a Swedish island location.