Book Review: Cruel Summer by James Dawson

September 15, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Summer by James DawsonCruel Summer by James Dawson
Published by Indigo on 1st August 2013
Source: Library
Pages: 321
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…

A compelling and psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.


Cruel Summer was my first foray into James Dawson’s work, and it certainly won’t be my last! I can see why everyone seems to love his books – Cruel Summer has made me desperate to binge on all of them, the sooner the better. He is – in my mind, at least – a very prominent UKYA author, so really, this read was long overdue for me.

I loved the setting of Cruel Summer – the idea of a summer holiday in Spain with five best friends is exquisite enough, let alone adding in the twist of a murder mystery. And nothing’s incredibly obvious right away. All’s well until suddenly, it isn’t. And I loved that. The intense mystery slowly built up, interlacing Janey’s tragic story with this terrifying murder plot – suddenly being in a secluded Spanish villa doesn’t seem as appealing as it did at the beginning of summer.

I didn’t guess the killer straight away, but there were enough subtle clues that led me towards a particular person, and for once, I was right! All the characters in Cruel Summer were fantastically written, especially Ryan. I adored him and the way everything was scripted in his chapters – he literally lives and breathes acting and this was so obvious with his character. I do wish though that he hadn’t settled for second best when it came to his relationship with another character and that he’d gotten a proper happy ending. For me, he was the one character who really deserved it.

Cruel Summer is a perfect read for UKYA fans, and just YA fans in general. James Dawson was an author who I had high expectations for and Cruel Summer certainly didn’t let me down. It also gave me a real craving for sangria. But on second thoughts…maybe I should pass on that.