Book Review: Cruel Summer – James Dawson – 2013 – YA Murder Mystery

Goodreads Summary:

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 Janey 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…

My Thoughts:

The story is told from the perspective of two of the suspects, which I didn’t really think worked very well. None of the characters had any individual characteristics so you were often wondering which person’s POV you were reading from. The solution of the murder also made this redundant, so I think a narrator voice would have been better.
The book primarily deals with who killed Janey and who is now trying to take revenge on the group. I thought the solution of this book was too far-fetched, even by the novel’s standards, and honestly thought the idea I’d had was better!

I had really been hoping I would enjoy this book. I read Dawson’s book Hollow Pike last year and thought that was OK – I’d have probably loved that one more as a young teen, but Cruel Summer was too absurd.
I’d say I did enjoy the first two thirds of this book. As I’ve already said, it was very hyperbolic, but if you are a fan of shows like Death in Paradise or Midsummer Murders it read like a novelisation of one of their episodes – totally over the top, but fun. The characters were very over the top and I couldn’t relate to any of them – I really didn’t like any of the characters, although I feel like maybe that was deliberately done by the author. The problem was not connecting to any characters in a book with a ridiculous plot made it difficult to sustain my interest for well over 300 pages.
I gave this book 3/5. Although I enjoyed the start of the book in a trashy way, the ending put me off recommending it to others.

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