The Boys of Summer

February 7, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

summerThe Boys of Summer by Richard Cox

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I picked this book up about a year ago, thanks to reading a lot of good buzz about it. Aside from its comparisons to King, it also was mentioned on a couple of the “Books to Read if You Liked Stranger Things” lists, which helped it make the cut. As a result, my expectations were pretty high.

Beyond it being set in the ’80s and featuring a group of kids (one of them psychic) returning to their home town to battle something that affected them as children (and, now that I think about it, some of them straight-up forgot about the events), I didn’t see much for either comparison. I didn’t expect it to feel like a King book, but the structure of the story was different enough from Kings’ that it made the story stand out to me. It didn’t feel as organic. The story read well, and kept my attention (I was surprised how quickly I finished it), but it never had the ZOMG feel I’ve felt from some of my favorite works.

The hook of the story revolved around a character who survived a massive tornado, only to fall into an odd state of conscious-but-sleeping after some head trauma. He’s not in a coma, but neither is he communicative; it’s like he’s sleepwalking. Once he comes out of that state, he knows about things that will happen in the future, and demonstrates it by playing a song to his friends — “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. He plays it for them one year before the song comes out, claiming it as his own.

For much of the story, his ability to see into the future is unexplained, and it works well that way. At the end of the book, Cox attempts to explain it, but how he explains it is too ridiculous to accept. It removes the mystery around the story, and lessens the impact of the book overall once we understand what’s happened. It felt like a fumble at the end of a solid game.

Before the ending of the book, I was willing to give it four stars, but afterward, the best I could do was three. It’s a shame the author chose to explain away that character’s ability, because the story worked just fine without it. Hardcore horror fans should give the book a read, but I don’t know if casual readers would take to it. At the very least, this shouldn’t be a Stranger Things-alike book.

Started: November 21, 2017
Finished: November 25, 2017

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