YA Review: DOWN WITH THE SHINE by Kate Karyus Quinn

Today I’m excited to share a review of another advanced copy I was privileged to read as a result of PitchWars–DOWN WITH THE SHINE by Kate Karyus Quinn. It’s another dark one, but it also surprised me by making me laugh out loud. I’ll get to that in the review, but first, here’s the description…

Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus QuinnBe careful what you wish for …

When Lennie brings a few jars of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s house party, she has everyone who drinks it make a wish. It’s tradition. So is her uncles’ toast: May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one.

The thing is, those words aren’t just a tradition. The next morning, every wish–no matter how crazy–comes true. And once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

And here are the five things I loved most.

1. The premise – As soon as I read the concept for this book, I was hooked. Pretty much any time there are wishes involved, I’m going to be interested, but add an extra layer of not knowing you’re granting wishes and that brings on a whole new level of potential conflict!

2. The humor – Oh my gosh, I was in stitches reading about the results of these drunken wishes. (Side note for younger readers: there is drinking–moonshine, obviously–and swearing.) Some of the wishes managed to be both horrifying and hilarious at the same time, like the boy whose touch turned everything to Cheetos. I don’t really want to give more away because they’ll be funnier if you experience them yourselves.

3. The stakes – The stakes get pretty real pretty fast for a lot of people. I like how they’re personal for Lennie but she also has a lot of other people immediately relying on her as well. And things just keep getting worse.

4. The character arc – Lennie isn’t the most likable character at the beginning of the book. I kind of wanted her to get over her insecurities and just do something. Of course, when she does do something with the moonshine it goes epically wrong and then it takes her a while to figure out how to fix things, but ultimately she does grow. And isn’t that always the goal?

5. The ending – Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this book could end well–and I’m not saying it does ;)–but the ending of this book was well-earned. That’s really all I can say.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone who likes a darker, older read. A word of caution, though, for any of my followers who are younger readers (like middle grade) or selecting books for that age: this book has themes that are definitely for older teens.

Have you read any of Kate Karyus Quinn’s other books? I haven’t yet, but I’ll definitely be checking them out now. And put this one on your radar for next spring! It comes out in April 2016.

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
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