By James Dawson, published by Indigo (Orion).
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
My Review: Cruel Summer is a fast paced thriller, that’s an essential read for the summer holidays! Set in a sunny paradise in Spain, the story follows a group of teenagers re-uniting for a holiday after a year of growing apart. They know it’s going to be tense- after all, this is one year on from the supposed suicide of their friend, Janey. Little did they know at the start of the holiday that one of them is a killer, with connections to Janey’s death and who is intent on a bloody revenge. Brilliant idea? I think so! After having a read of the synopsis I most definitely had high hopes for this. And, thankfully, I wasn’t let down!
The whole who-dunnit? plot was really complex, and every plot twist was unexpected. There is absolutely no way that I could’ve guessed the shocking outcome to the novel! James Dawson visibly has a lot of talent for creating suspenseful stories. He’s written this tale brilliantly, packing in tension and suspense, and the drama was so effective that I found it difficult to put the book down. A lot of reviews have said this before- but I’ll say it again- Cruel Summer really had that teen horror movie or point horror novel feel to it! It truly was quite terrifying at points (like the body floating in the pool or the writing on the wall in blood, later in the book… *shiver*). The plot was paced a little too fast for me in places, though in all, it was simply genius, in terms of the reveal of the killer and their motives!
On to the characters- all of which are probably the most well-developed characters I’ve read about this year! Each and every one of the teenage gang had relatable backgrounds; there’s at least one person that any reader will be able to connect with, I’m sure. James Dawson has taken all of the classic, stereotypical suspects- like the jock and the quite girl and the brat nobody likes (though this one’s called worse in the book!), and yet the book didn’t seem too cliched or unoriginal at all! Aside from Roxanne Dent (Oh, how I wanted to punch her! No worries- that’s not me saying she’s the murderer! She’s the one with the evidence from the synopsis! 😛 ) Dawson gave the characters attributes that made me like all of them in one way or another- which made it so difficult for me to decide who the killer was! No matter how many times I settled on a suspect- about three- I was entirely wrong. So extra points to the author for leading me off the path there.
Ryan narrates the book. He was probably the most loveable character of the story- as he seemed to be bottling up his emotions- and his love life was thrown upside down in the story. There were points when you just wanted to hug him! The only thing that I didn’t like about him was that he though everything was a scene in a TV drama. Don’t get me wrong- that made it quite fun- but at the deaths, it was kinda twisted too… You start to wish he’d snap out of his TV obsession at those points in the book.
Overall, Cruel Summer is the perfect crime read- and if you read it by the beach on holiday, like I did, it’s extra awesome (and extra scary. Gulp.). Highly recommended if you’re a fan of Crime Fiction in general, horror, or if you fancy a teen drama that gets a big messy. Cruel Summer has some great characters, and a plot so unpredictable you’ll find yourself shouting WHAT?! at pages, and not wanting to put it down.
I received a copy of Cruel Summer from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.
Also, LOOK! 😀 I (very briefly) got to see James Dawson at a book signing the other week. So thanks to James for signing my copy!