Saturday 7 March 2015

Book Review - Cruel Summer

Cruel Summer
Author: James Dawson
Genres: Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: August 1st 2013
Publishers: Indigo
No. Pages: 324
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones
A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder..

When it comes to James Dawson's books, I could lie and tell you that I've known about him for a long time but in reality I only really heard about him when he wrote Say Her Name.Though I haven't read it yet I was intrigued by how much everyone was going on about not only the book but the author himself, so I set out to find one to read. I came across Cruel Summer in one of my local libraries and knew that I wanted it, it since set on my shelf’s for far longer than it should have but when I picked it up I was surprised. From the get go the book reminded me of Dangerous Girls, with the friends on holiday abroad in a remote place, and Ten, friends thinking that something was laid to rest only to have strange things happening. One big difference is that Cruel Summers characters are from England and it was one of the things I loved about it, but being that we English have such unusual way's of talking and words for things sometimes, something that showed up in the book, I thought that people from overseas who picked it up could be turned off of the writing and slang because they didn't fully understand. Being from England I can hold my hands up and say that sometimes our style of talking can take some getting used to haha. (I wouldn't say that this would be a bad thing about the book because obviously the kids are going to talk the way they do and those overseas might have a problem with it like I though, but that's how I felt.)

As I started reading the book I was very interested by the characters and was looking forward to their development, however I was around 100 pages in and sadly still waiting. One thing that did grab my attention from the start was how the book is mainly set from Ryan and Alisha's point of view, you have Ryan who doesn't believe that their friend Janie would have killed herself and then you have Alisha who hasn't really said much about it. Though it's set from other peoples from time to time, these two are in my opinion the main characters and it gives you the sense that both had far more to do with the suicide than they are letting on.

As the book is about a group of 7 people a year after the death of their friend, you have a lot of different personalities and back stories to wrap your head round. You have Ryan, who is the sceptical one about the 'suicide', he's also gay, obsessed with theatre/drama and likes to think the world is one big TV show at times (the story it's self is set out like one big script). We have Ben, not only Janies boyfriend at the time of the accident but also once long-term boyfriend of Katie, a good girl who's parent's own the Vila in Spain where they will be spending the next 2 weeks. Next you have Greg and Alisha, though they may be twins they couldn't be more different. Greg is a professional athlete and Alisha was crowed 'most likely to go to rehab' in school. We also have the addition of Erin, Greg's girlfriend and someone that the rest really know nothing about. Lastly, we have the one they never expected to see, Roxanne. Not only does she have a shady past and grudges with nearly all of them, but she claims that she has prof that janies death wasn't as black and white as the polices claimed and she's willing to go to extreme lengths to get what she wants.

With so much going on and fingers being pointed left right and centre it's a pretty fair assumption to say that by now in the story you are coming up with all these different ideas about who did it, why and what’s going to happen, or was it just me?. I can't say I've ever been the best at murder mysteries and that I don't change my mind thousands of times, but there was one theory I was set on and though it was slightly different, the person and part were still right in the end so I was happy that I had uncovered the secrets. Was there still a lot of suspense and twists that I didn't see coming? Of course, I'm not that good. However because of the way the story was set out, with it being like a TV show/ typical horror film, I felt it was a little bit obvious who the culprit was once you looked at all the evidence.

So now it comes down to the point in the review where I tell you if I liked the book or not. Well the answer is half and half. I thought the theory behind the story was really good,and the scene setting was faultless, however I felt that everything I was good about this book was let down by the little things. I didn't really find any of the characters to be relatable, but that's not to say you wont. Though I have already stated it plenty of times, I did like the style of the book and how it was set out like a film, but I felt like sometimes the characters were stating the obvious and being way over the top sometimes and it was something that really started to grate on my a little as the story went on no matter how much I tried to overlook it. I also felt like the book could have don with more flashback of Lanie, considering the book was mainly about her death I don't feel like she was truly given a voice and if it was a story solely on the way the characters were dealing with her death it wouldn't have mattered that much but it became a murder mystery so I would have just liked to see more about the person who inspired it.

Over all this book was good, it was a fun read and I didn't get so frustrated that I decided to DNF which is always a good thing. However like already mentioned, there just happened to be a few things that I felt let the book down and lacking something. Would I read more of James Dawson? Without a doubt. I really think he has great potential and I'm looking forward to reading more of his books, I just don't think that Cruel Summer was 100% for me.


  1. Great review. I've known James Dawsons books for so long. I have even met him and wore his Queen of Teen crown and got him to sign one of his books for me. I've also just got his latest through the mail for review. But I've read 0! HAHA! But I plan to. This is the one that has appealed to me the least, it's not that it looks bad but I just am more drawn to Say Her Name and his latest. It seems like an okay read though and one I'd probably enjoy enough but not be amazed by. I've been putting off a lot of books atm because I'm wanting books that will really wow me. I'd probably get to this one when I'm looking for a quick read.

    1. Judging by your style and the way our tastes are a little bit similar I think you could like this book, but it might not be one to blow you out of the water. Say Her Name however is one that I hear is bloody amazing and I'm going to borrow it from my local library, so when I read it sometime next week I'll tweet you and let you know if I think it was better :P


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