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…
A compelling and psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.
Review by Charli Valentine
Cruel Summer is a mystery thriller YA written in mainly dual perspectives of the characters Ryan and Alisha, though I would say that Ryan is the main character. It starts a year before the main storyline and we meet a young girl, Janey, standing a top of a cliff; clearly something has happened at the leavers ball that she keep referring to be we do not find out what actually happened until much later in the book. She is debating with herself whether to jump or not when she hears something behind her and this is where the mystery begins. We are introduced to her group of friends who are meeting up for a holiday in Spain after a year has passed since Janey’s death. Reunited, the friends are looking forward to holiday of a lifetime. Only when someone unexpected turns up things start to go downhill very fast for the group of friends and it comes out that maybe Janey’s death was no an accident after all, and worse, what if the murderer is a lot closer than they think. The events that follow will bound the group together for life.
There are a lot of things that I absolutely adore about this book, I really do not know where to start!
In books you usually have a rough idea which direction the plot is going to head in, who will end up with who and a guess of who the murderer is. With CRUEL SUMMER, I honestly had no clue what was going to happen. Dawson leaves a lot of unanswered question for us along the way and keeps you guessing until the very end which I absolutely love!
The style that Dawson writes in really links to the characters. From the very first page I knew that there was going to be something different about the book as it opens Fade In: One Year Ago and continues as Scene One, Scene two, etc. Ryan is a drama student and everything in his life has be theatrical. Ever since he was young he has had an outlook on life that it was a soap opera. Events come as scenes rather than days, he predicts who is going to get together, moans about the writers when something bad happens, and matches the horror movie stereotypes to events that unfold. But he isn’t in a soap opera and he cant control everything that happens as much as he wishes that he could.
The characters that Dawson writes are so realistic and loveable I really did not want to let them go at the end. This is the first book that I have read where the main character is gay and I absolutely LOVE Ryan. He is the kind of guy that everybody needs to have in their life. The gang together though, Ryan, Katie, Alisha, Ben, Greg and his girlfriend, Erin, truly make for great dynamics and there really is not a single thing in the book that I would change.
Having said that, this book will have you laughing and sobbing- a lot! CRUEL SUMMER is an incredibly addictive book. I started it just last night and could not put it down until I finished it at 3:30am! I am a huge horror movie buff but reading this book at night on my own really gave me the creeps! The storyline flows, it is easy to follow, and the plot is admirable! Even if the ending had me in tears, it fit with the story and I do not hesitate at all in giving James Dawsons CRUEL SUMMER three out of three stars. I highly recommend this to everybody of all ages!
I have so much love for this book and cannot wait to read more books by James Dawson because if he can write something this amazing then I cannot wait to see what else he can do!