In my opinion, McKinley is an excellent author. She is mostly known for her fairy tales re-tellings, and Sunshine is a departure from that type of book. A wonderful, wonderful departure. In this book, the vampires are actually blood sucking monsters. Even though, in the end, there is one not-so-bad vampire, but he still doesn't sparkle or avoid drinking blood. Sunshine is the narrator, a baker, who is captured by vampires and escapes, contrary to everything she believes about 'the others.' The rest of the book tells of the consequences of that action. The story is told in a first person narrative, so if that is not your style, you should probably avoid it. Otherwise, the world she's created, post a massive world war, and full of magic, is explained more through Sunshine living it, not with paragraphs and paragraphs of set up. The characters are intriguing, and even side characters are interesting. In my opinion, one of the best aspects of this book is that there is no sequel. These days, I feel that you cannot turn around in a bookstore without tripping over a series of vampire books. This stand alone novel breaks that trend, and is better for it.
If you only read one middle grade novel that was turned into a movie: Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones.
Howl's Moving Castle is a delightful jaunt into a fantasy world, with sorcerers and evil witches, curses and transformations. Like I mentioned, it was turned into a movie, which was adorable in its own way, but the book is definitely worth the read, and obviously before you watch the movie. This book is actually laugh out loud funny in some places, with wonderful dialogue and a kind of mystery that falls into place unexpectedly at the end. The main character, Sophie, is turned into an old lady at the beginning of the book by an evil witch, and what follows are her adventures with the wizard Howl and his moving castle. Though written at a level for younger folks, this book is still captivating and interesting, so don't discount it. That also means that it is a quick read!