Monday, 29 July 2013

Cruel Summer

Smiling, Ryan said, “It sounds mad, but I like to pretend we’re all in a big TV show.”

It’s been a year since they left school. Ryan, Katie and Ben went their separate ways to university. Greg has a promising football career ahead of him. And Alisha has been resitting her last year. It’s been a year since their friend Janey committed suicide. But putting the past behind them, a reunion is in order and they head of to Spain for two weeks in the sun. It doesn’t take long for sunscreen and sangria to turn to horror… and a summer they will never forget, if only they survive it.

Cruel Summer has James Dawson’s personality stamped all over it. Several of the elements that made Hollow Pike so popular are present; a diverse cast in a book that isn’t about diversity. Something the YA community is screaming out for. The holiday to Spain is a key part to growing up in Britain which means whilst it’s not set in the UK, it’s still incredibly British. Just don’t get any ideas about ways to spend your first holiday as a grown-up!

There was a question mark looming large over last summer. Loose plot ends that needed tying up. Viewers had been waiting on tenterhooks for a whole year. In TV you can’t leave loose ends; everything has to be resolved or you end up with a mess like Lost.

On one hand, it’s a book for the Scream generation. Of course, we’re grown up now and I hope today’s teenagers can appreciate the irony. Ryan likes to describe his life as if it were scripted. There’s lots of references to clichés and tropes but it’s done in a manner that it’s meant to be obvious. Ryan is pointing them out after all. Yet, the story still managed to avoid being clichéd itself. It’s a wonderful homage to the days of teen horror before it got gory. Think Point Horror (check out James' Point Horror Book Club) but better. Hugely entertaining.

The narrative keeps you guessing right up until the dramatic climax. Ryan likes the predictability of TV land but it doesn’t apply here. It’s one of those books that will take you a while to recover from too. What an ending!

Cruel Summer is published by Indigo, the YA imprint for Orion Books, and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from the 1st August. If you pre-order a copy, be sure to claim your signed book-plate from James. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review and keep your eyes open for the blog tour.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.


  1. Cruel Summer sounds like such an awesome book. I haven't read anything by James Dawson before, but I'm thinking I'm going to start with this one. I'm especially excited now you've said it's for the Scream generation - I prefer non-gory teen horror to the stuff that's being produced these days. It just seems better (to me, at least.) Great review!

    1. I really enjoyed Hollow Pike too, it's more like the winter read to this summer one. That reminded me of Heathers a bit.

  2. Oh my gosh, I used to *love* Point Horror books when I was a teenager! Me and one of my friends made it our mission to read them all between us. I'm pretty sure we never even got close but that was a fun summer :) I'm going on holiday in a few weeks and this sounds like a perfect book to travel with!

  3. I was a HUGE fan of the Point Horror books. Dawson's titles aren't available in the US but it looks like I can order them here easy enough. Adding them to the must have list now :)


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