Release: 1st August 2013
Genre: YA, Murder Mystery, Thriller, UKYA, Contemporary
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
"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…"
Cruel Summer was my first read from talented UK YA author James Dawson. I’ve been on a YA Summer Thriller kick this year and so was immediately interested in checking this book out after reading the synopsis. Then in came the glowing reviews and my book blogging friends telling me how much I’d love this one and so I decided to read it ASAP and promptly read the entire thing in one sitting because it was that good!
In a nutshell Cruel Summer is about a group of friends who haven’t seen each other for a year since their friend Janey suspiciously committed suicide. On the one year anniversary of her death the friends decide to reunite for a sunny holiday in Spain. But in a remote area, with no phone reception, the teens are about to discover that Janey’s death was only the beginning and that her killer might be on the Island with them demanding an encore.
Sun, Sea and Sand - I loved the setting for this story! The group’s holiday villa sounded like a dream come true until it became their worst nightmare. I loved every single character in this book and really enjoyed reading about UK teen characters abroad. Each character gets to narrate the story and add their version of events at some point but for the majority this book is told from Ryan and Alisha’s point of view. I really enjoyed having the dual boy/girl narrative that wasn’t between a couple for once. Cruel Summer has a very cinematic feel which Ryan only adds to with his flair for the dramatic and how he imagines his life as an on-going TV series – starring himself as the main character of course! I can definitely see this as a TV show or British film – think Skins meets The Inbetweeners movie only with more murder and intrigue.
I really loved getting to know this group of friends and I soon felt like I was part of their group. But like every group of friends each of them has their secrets that they keep from each other. Some are connected to Janey’s death and some are not. I loved untangling their messy little lies! Each character had motive to be the killer and I suspected everyone at some point or another but at the same time I couldn’t imagine any of them being a cold blooded murderer because I liked them all so much!
Although by the end of the book I did suspect who the killer was (which I don’t think really counts as like I said I suspected everyone!) I didn’t see their motive coming at all although looking back there are some very subtle clues. There were twists and turns until the very end and there were a lot of red herrings to keep you guessing. I must warn you that this is most definitely a thriller, once you start it you won’t want to do anything else! And James Dawson isn’t afraid of killing off his characters so don’t go getting attached to anyone like I did! *Sobs.*
Overall Cruel Summer delivered everything I could want from a gripping Summer Thriller/Murder Mystery and it genuinely gave me the creeps at times. I’d really love it if James Dawson stuck to this genre as I’d love a thriller as good as this one to read every summer! Cruel Summer is definitely one for the beach (or not if you’re a big baby like me!) and I’m now eager to get my hands on Hollow Pike - James Dawson you have yourself a new fan!