Crushing Summer – C.M. Stunich

Synopsis

I’m a girl. I met a boy. Why can’t it stay that simple?

Here, in this town, summer doesn’t just mean tiny bikinis and sunglasses, white toothed grins and lounging at the beach. It means pain. And loss. And false promises.

It means liars pretending to be saints, friends pretending to be enemies, rivals pretending to be lovers.

For me, it means being crushed. The Crush, actually. The one they all want simply because they were told to. It means being surrounded by beautiful faces and gorgeous bodies, sweet words and sizzling kisses.

It means being wanted and despised.

My name is Chloe Summer, and I’m afraid that if I’m not careful, this summer could be my last.

Review

There was so much wrong with this book that I almost don’t even know where to begin.

Well, for one, if you’re expecting a cute summery coming-of-age story, that is not what you’re going to get. Although based on Chloe’s long, rambling inner monologue, you can probably guess that she’s TRYING to be profound.

The main problem with this book is its melodrama. It tries to be tragic but doesn’t have enough build up to pull it off. The characters are all rather flat and two-dimensional, including (perhaps… especially?) Chloe. Take Chloe’s best friend, for example. Chloe spends so much time internally shaming her for the way she dresses and the way she is, but by the end they’re still “besties.” That is not a sustainable or healthy friendship, and I’d tell Heidi to get the hell away from someone who belittled her for being herself. Overall, Chloe puts herself on a pedestal. She wishes that her best friend didn’t have to lose her innocence so early, and even states that no sixteen-year-old should be put in such a position. How did Chloe gain the wisdom of the ages? How did she lose her innocence (when really, her family unit seemed pretty supportive)? This aspect of Chloe was downright bizarre. And then there was her complete unwillingness to participate in the Assignment. Oh poor you, people find you attractive and worthy to fawn over. What a pity; what a chore. I had no sympathy for Chloe while she griped about being too attractive for her own good.

Then take Casper. This was an attempt at a tall/dark/handsome love interest without any success. Is it supposed to be romantic when he’s described to randomly (and viciously) mash her lips to his? If she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, almost all descriptions of Casper’s would borderline on rape. Maybe goth guys just aren’t my thing, but I can’t imagine why black-skull nail polish and eyeliner would be a turn-on.

Moreover, I don’t understand why either love interest (Casper or Cage) would willingly accept that she’s kissing both of them. There were some hints of jealousy between the two, but is it realistic for someone to act holier-than-thou, saying “honesty is the best policy” and reveal that kind of thing? People’s hearts aren’t anything to take lightly. Furthermore, it was so unreasonable for Chloe to get angry at Cage. The onus was on her for outlining an open relationship in the first place.

Speaking of open relationships, the Assignment itself was downright weird because there’s no way all those students would willingly act as such sheep. Maybe in Lord of the Flies, yes, but human cruelty was not on display here due to desperate circumstances and the naivety of children (as seen in LOTF). This was an entire town under some freaky spell, supposedly justifying that the Assignment was a rite of passage. You can tell Stunich tried emulating LOTF considering all the references to it, but it was done so very poorly. As if someone would really set the school on fire to appear “bad.” As if girls would really make out with a supposed “heartthrob” (who appeared to have no redeeming qualities anyway) when they were in exclusive relationships. I understand that bullies can get out of hand, but every other role was ridiculous. Why would someone lock herself into a library just because her peers told her to?

As for the idea of the “outcast,” no justification made this role okay. I hate being the “bad person” here, but of course Julie had to have a terminal illness on top of it all. The illness itself was pretty vague. What would make someone cough up blood and be on the verge of death unless she had a revival shot? Why would her parents ever choose to stay at a place where people bullied her, beat her up, and trashed her house? They obviously had the capability to take her elsewhere, since they did for her treatments anyway (and let’s face it, this town isn’t the only beachfront place on the West Coast). Her family obviously cared about her a lot, so why did they stay? And Casper’s rationale for happiness at the end was weak, because that ending came out of left-field in the first place.

Everything escalated SO QUICKLY. Why would Chloe or Heidi go to the ridge after all they had known? And how could Shayla trick everyone into accepting her when she was so blatantly mentally unstable? Half of those events could have been premediated if anyone had sense in the town, or if any of the main characters thought before making dumb decisions.

I was really surprised by this book… in a bad way. I had pretty high expectations considering the glowing reviews. C.M. Stunich appears to have a cult-following, but for the life of me, I don’t understand why. The book was riddled with inexcusable inconsistencies, GSP errors, and a weakly developed story overall. This was one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time.

Related Reading

  • Don’t bother
  • Probably as bad as “The Rock Star’s Daughter” – Caitlyn Duffy

Note: I’d tag this with relevant tags, but that would do a disservice to quality books regarding similar topics.

Rating: 1/5

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