1st August 2013
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.
Cruel Summer was scandalously good. I've been seriously excited about it since I first heard about it because Hollow Pike was cracking, but it genuinely surpassed my expectations. If you're looking for a thrilling, chilling, and sometimes slightly melodramatic (but in the best kind of way) mystery, then look no further. In fact, I think that the thing I like least about Cruel Summer is that fact that it is going to be really hard to write about without spoiling anything (because lots of my favourite parts/things about it are majorly spoilerific and I want you all to have the joy of reading this book completely unspoiled.) So this review may be fairly short, though I've already managed to prattle on a bit...
I won't lie, Cruel Summer wasn't an instant hit for me. I started it, and it was good, but I wasn't totally gripped and it took me a while to get into the style (which is very sort American Teen drama, like, 90210 or the OC or that sort of thing) and to get used to Ryan's thinking of life as TV thing. But when the action really kicks in, I was so absorbed by the story that I didn't even notice, and I'd gotten used to it by that point anyway. But I also think that it was less obvious at that point because of the events that happen and the fact that it is their real life and the facade of them being some perfect gang of rich, happy kids who have it all is a load of bullshit.
The characters - Ryan, Alisha, Katie, Ben, Greg - were all really fun to read about. They're not all particularly likeable, but they're all interesting and it took me a while to figure out the Who because this tale is so twisted that there is at least one point in the book where it could have been any of them. But, as I've read in other reviews, the motivation behind everything is really the most interesting part, and the most difficult to figure out by far. Seriously, when I was reading it and clocked on to what was happening, I think my mouth dropped open a bit and I hit the book and was like kudos to James because I did not see it coming. It's really clever. Well, that, or I just overreact to good twists. Probably a bit of both.
There really wasn't a better place for Cruel Summer to be set than Katie's parents isolated Spanish villa, full of sangria, sexual tension and secrets (there was a time where if I had options between cheesy alliteration, and anything else, I would've gone with the anything else. I am not that person anymore.) At first, it seemed all sunny and beautiful and nice and Spanish, but that's before all the bad things start to happen, at which point it just becomes claustrophobic and tense. Though, really, if you had a choice between dying at a sunny beautiful Spanish villa and a crappy British seaside town, you'd probably go with the villa. Not that you'd want to die at all, but, you know, if you had to choose...
I'm kind of running out of un-spoilerific things to say now, but trust me when I say that Cruel Summer is the perfect summer thriller. Just don't read it if you're going on a holiday with your friends to a secluded Spanish villa otherwise you might end up being a bit paranoid. I know that I won't be drinking sangria anytime soon (though I didn't actually know what it was until I read this...)
Okay, enough rambling! Read Cruel Summer.
(P.S. As the great Flynn Ryder once said, 'Frying pans. Who knew, right?' Boy, I hope someone who reads this gets that because otherwise I'll just feel like a bit of a prat.)