Monday, April 17, 2017

ARC Review: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

SummaryToday, he’s a high school dropout with no future. 
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Expected Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

Rating: 4/5 Stars


I was fortunate enough to read an advanced digital copy of Cold Summer from the publisher through Edelweiss. I had originally heard about Cold Summer from emmmabooks on her Youtube video about 2017 YA Mental Health Fiction Releases. Whenever she mentioned the plot of Cold Summer, I was extremely intrigued and I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of it. Cold Summer did not disappoint me.

Essentially, Cold Summer follows Kale Jackson, a time-traveler, who uncontrollably travels throughout time. Recently he has been coming back to a specific battle during World War II and he develops PTSD as a result. An old friend, Harper, moves permanently next door and Kale has to face his PTSD, family issues, and rekindle his friendship with Harper. Harper is also facing her own crisis and wonders if she made the right decision moving in with her uncle. The novel takes place in alternating points of view between Kale and Harper. The summary that comes with the book spoils events that occur over halfway throughout the book. So, if you happened to skip the end of the summary or decided against reading it, I would recommend not rereading the summary if you have already read it or not reading the summary if you have not read it. I would recommend deciding if you want to read the novel based on the small blurb I just provided and the remainder of my review. 

Recently, I have been extremely annoyed with the romances I have been reading in YA novels. Many of them have featured a romance that was too prevalent in the story or characters that fell in love too fast. However, Cold Summer featured the perfect YA romance. Kale and Harper's romance was prevalent enough in the story to be considered a romance, but the problems plaguing Kale and Harper were the foremost issues. Their relationship developed as the story progressed, but it never overshadowed the problems plaguing either character, which I absolutely loved.

Neither character also 'fixed' each other. A common theme throughout YA and NA literature is the fact that the main two characters dissolve each others problems. Kale and Harper were supportive of each other, but they did not 'fix' each other. They were the only ones who could appropriately deal with the issues plaguing them. It was so refreshing to see them dealing with their own issues, not trying to fix the other. 

I have never suffered from PTSD or known anyone who has suffered from it so I cannot say whether the representation was accurate or not; however, PTSD and other mental illnesses are extremely important topics and I am glad that mental health is being portrayed in YA fiction. If you have read any reviews addressing the portrayal of PTSD in Cold Summer or have read the novel and suffered from the illness, please comment below or feel free to contact me about the representation. I would really like to be informed about the topic and know if PTSD was portrayed correctly in the novel.

One of the problems I had with Cold Summer was the foundation of the novel. While the foundation of Kale's time-traveling ability was explained and made sense, the foundation for the story itself was lacking. The novel took place over the course of a summer, but it seemed to go on forever. While I rarely know what day it is during summer vacation, it seemed as though months went on but summer never ended. They never mentioned that school was only a matter of days or weeks away, only that it was coming. The novel starts at the beginning of July and after Independence Day. The novel has no grasp in time. At first I thought that the no grasp in time would make sense in Kale's point of view since he is constantly time-traveling and losing himself to PTSD; however, the same timelessness was occurring during Harper's characters and she did not suffer from either of his problems. Many readers might not have a problem with the timelessness, but it made the novel seem to be going on forever without any real end point. 

My second problem with Cold Summer ties in with my first issue: The length of the novel. While reading Cold Summer I had no idea how long the novel was, due to the fact I was reading a digital copy; however, according to Edelweiss, the novel is going to be 334 pages. It is relatively short in comparison to an average book I read, which is 500 pages, but the timelessness of the book made it drag on and a couple of the chapters were rather unnecessary. Aside from a few action scenes when Kale is back in time, there is very little action to the story. It is mainly a character driven novel, which I appreciate at times, but it dragged in a couple areas and made it a likable novel for me, not a lovable one. My issues with the novel could be fixed with another revision of the novel. These changes could have easily been changed from the version I read of the story to the finished one.

The story, the characters, the romance, and Gwen Cole's writing was intriguing enough that I finished Cold Summer in a matter of days. It was a short, yet powerful novel that deserves to have a place in bookstores across the world. I highly recommend purchasing your own copy of Cold Summer on May 2nd or borrowing a copy from a local library. Cold Summer was Gwen Cole's powerful and stunning YA debut. I cannot wait to see what she will be publishing next.

1 comment:

  1. These watercolor covers always get me! Great review! :)