A standout book I have read this year which has enticed me in from the beginning is: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. The book is based on the YouTube Channel: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Network.
I feel that it is a great example of one type of media adapting into a book. If you never knew about the YouTube channel to begin with then you probably wouldn’t notice the different.
I originally won the book in a competition but just got around to reading the book recently. Everything begins with Sunshine turning 16 then moving to a new house where she instantly starts to feel a sudden creepiness that lingers everywhere she goes.
The book explores into the long process it takes before Sunshine realises who she is and that she is a luiseach – in charge of helping spirits to move on after death.
Sunshine begins to document the paranormal on video and tries to prove to her mother that ghosts are real. She then meets Anna, the ghost who is haunting her house and learns about the tragic fate that Anna met. Sunshine is being tested by her mentor in which she has to overcome before she meets her mentor. If she does not overcome the challenge then she could loose all those whom she cares about and then possibly even forget about their existence in the first place.
The adaptation from YouTube to novel was actual fantastic. Right from the start of the book you get easily drawn in and begin to associate with the characters. Although the book is written for a young audience, Paige tells the story in a way that can appeal to even people older than the intended readership.
I like the way in which you can easily relate to Sunshine through the fact that she is the typical unpopular girl at school with only one good friend. Then when she moves miles away from home, she becomes friends with yet again one person who truly understands her. The darkness that engulfs Sunshine could give connotations of those who are depressed in the fact that the darkness takes ahold of her and refuses to let go which follows her about from day-to-day.
Sunshine interacts with the ghost, Anna and begins to play games with her. The more Sunshine plays with Anna, the more she learns about the ghosts brutal murder. Sunshine begins to sympathise with the ghost when she discovers that the girl was killed by her father who was possessed by a demon.
I would describe this book as the Supernatural of a younger generation. I feel that the book has similar aspects to the TV show: Supernatural but makes the plot unique by aiming at a younger audience and mixing the paranormal with a sense of humour. Sunshine’s personality and the relationship between her and her mother really stands out and makes the reader support Sunshine in her challenge and want her to succeed.
The novel becomes a fight for survival. A fight for Sunshine to save her mother. A fight that could end in death that Sunshine would have never expected from such a move. What a convenient time for Sunshine to move to Ridgemount you say? Little does Sunshine know, this was put in place by her mentor. A mentor she has yet to meet. mentor who is putting her loved one’s lives at risk all for the greater good, all as a test. A test in which Sunshine must pass or risk loosing her loved ones for good!
McKenzie takes the typical idea of a paranormal/horror YA book but adds a twist to make it unique. This factor is what makes the adaptation a brilliant success. She takes the typical “girl being haunted/haunted house” plot and spins it up to make it fresh and exciting story that is totally different from the classics.
As soon as Sunshine arrives in the new town she feels something “off” about the house and whole neighborhood. Ever since her sixteenth birthday she has started to develop into the luiseach which she is due to become.
To improve the novel it would be good if McKenzie was able to go into more depth when the spooky events begin to happen. When her whole world turns upside down, it would be good if there was more detail. I would have also liked it if there was more detail about how Sunshine and her best friend before she moved to Ridgemount drifted apart and ended up not talking. Since in the book, they just stop mentioning her after a certain point. I will most likely check out the YouTube channel after reading the book.
I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal humour in a YA read.