Friday, November 5, 2010

Brighter than the Sun by Julia Quinn

Brighter than the Sun is your regular aimed-at-teenage-girls book.

Brighter Than the Sun

All the elements of the typical romance are there - the regency era; cool, hunky, rakish hero; the prim and proper but secretly naughty good-girl heroine; a marriage of convenience; loads of drama; loads of love; and the happily ever after. The question here is whether Brighter than the Sun rises above the cliches of the genre into something new and inspiring and different to read. It was with a hope of something along these lines from highly acclaimed author Julia Quinn that I picked up this book. I was hoping that Quinn would write something new out of this done-to-death story.

I was unfortunately disappointed.

Lets make this clear. This book is not bad for its target audience. To the girl who adores sappy love stories (and I will admit here that I can be a bit like that too, only its a guilty pleasure), this story will no doubt deliver. Quinn mixes enough humor, beauty and gaiety into her story to make it both entertaining and readable, weaves a narrative interesting enough to amuse, and creates characters that are just about complex enough to actually care about. There is a lot of love. There is a lot of adoration. There is the perfect-marriage-under-imperfect-circumstances fantasy that a lot of the target audience will really enjoy. The writing quality is actually quite good and it comes across that Quinn has studied her craft well. As a package, the book is not dull enough to be disliked, and there is a lot in it for someone actually looking for this kind of book.

But for the more serious reader, there are some serious pit-falls. The plot hinges too deeply on coincidence (starting with the hero falling from a tree right into the arms of the heroine). Moreover, the plot is quite transparently lacking in suspense. You know exactly what is happening even when the author goes out of her way to hide it. The characters are really mono-dimensional, character traits seem to be added in convenience and some of them are really cheesy. There is little or no depth and little or no growth in the character arcs. The romance is totally unbelievable, and seems to rely mostly on physical attraction even though the author goes out of her way to claim it is not. And as a package, the whole thing is a mess that will make most discerning readers drop the book.

Final thoughts: If you like sappy romances, read the book. Otherwise (and perhaps even if), this book is avoidable thanks the forgettable plot, flat characters and cheesy romance. Quinn fails to deliver.

Other thoughts: I'm a little behind on the reviewing as opposed to the reading - and therefore I have loads of books lined up to review, from The Namesake to the Thousand Splendid Suns, Wedding Season and then of course The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that I've just picked up, and The Color of Magic which I just found. Expect a lot of reviews in the next week.


  1. @Harish: I love your comment. :) And it wasn't my cup of tomato soup either, as you can probably tell from the review.

    @Abhinav: Thanks. :)

  2. Looking forward to the coming up reviews. Pleasantly surprised to know you read Hitchhiker's guide (Sci-fi genre,though I am not a fan of this book).
    BTW,I finished Amulet of Samarkhand but was not too impressed with it,though I kept reminding myself every book can't be HP. I found the narrative not gripping enough and the characters difficult to connect with.And I hope its ok that I'm commenting on some other book here instead of the one reviewed :D

  3. nice review....:D

    btw can u get "The girl wit the dragon tattoo" at school???

  4. @Pavan: Of course its okay. Connecting about books is exactly what this blog is about. :)

    I was rummaging about in my house and found Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, and it seemed really interesting in a crazy way, so I started reading it. Its currently hilarious. :) But do recommend some more sci-fi to me that you did enjoy, I'll look forward to reading it.

    About Amulet of Samarkand, well, it can be not for everyone...and a lot of people seem to find Nathaniel a thoroughly horrible character, so I guess its just a matter of whether you connect with a book or not. :P I guess it would be a really personal reaction to it.

    @Aanal: Thank you, and already done. :)

  5. I guess you know by now that Hitchhiker's has a huge fan following, esp geeks.Enjoy :)

    I've not read nearly as much sci-fi as I have seen movies of the genre. But I loved Jurassic Park & Lost World. There is a lot more to just dinosaurs in those books,which the movies never showcase. I am trying to get my hands on The Dune series, which are by popular opinion, the best sci-fi books till date.

  6. Yes, I did.

    I'll definitely try to read the books for these movies (since I've only seen the movies), and keep an eye out for the Dune series. I also plan to read some Isaac Asimov soon (mostly because it was recommended by someone and my school library has a lot of his books.)


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