Cruel Summer by James Dawson – review

If you were to see them heading to the immaculate, pristine, exclusively blue and white villa, the first thought to cross your head would be that they were movie stars, or models, but perfect either way. Then again, the way I see it, perfection is just an illusion, a disguise to keep strangers from looking into the horror inside. For no one's perfect – not really anyway.

If you were to see them heading to the villa, you would never guess that this group of beautiful, regal teenagers were broken; separated in ways that hold them apart and yet will force them to remain bound together for all of eternity. They are irrevocably damaged, just under the surface, but covered up, so that nobody will ever guess. The tragedy that changed their lives an entire year ago, the one that marked them forever, is back to haunt them once again…

And now, all The Good Girl, The Ex-Bad Girl, The Nerd, The Jock, The Drama-Guy, The New Girl and one unexpected, unwelcome guest can do is try to piece together what happened that one fateful night, from which point all their lives have been on a downward spiral. That one fateful, horrific night when a member of their close knit group took the leap into oblivion. Or did she?

With evidence that the girl who was declared to have committed suicide, really didn't, and a blackmailer claiming to have dirt on pretty much everyone in the secluded palace, life seems just as bleak compared to a year ago, when all they could do was wait, painfully – not smile, not laugh, not live – to find out what happened to their friend. But this killer is ruthless, will stop at nothing, and the worst part, he/ she is in the very same house.

"He'd assumed Janey's death was the finale. Turned out, it was only the beginning…"

With the evidence bearer murdered, and a house full of guilty people, will these teenagers with everything to lose and nothing to gain be able to get away with murder? Even if they were, will they ever find out which one of them did it?

As their relationships teeter on the edge, trying to cover up something they should've never done in the first place, the most unexpected of people get thrown together. The LGBT aspect of the book was so different from others I've read, and was a vital, beautiful, heart wrenching part of the tale, although only highlighted when we near the end.

Ryan's method of treating everything like it was a TV show, was a uniquely brilliant way to get the reader further into the book, without missing out on anything!

With secrets that have the potential to shock, and original, charismatic characters that seem to be too good to be true, Cruel Summer is indeed, to quote the blurb, the PERFECT summer read!

Dawson's ability to hold on to a murder and make you wonder, sitting at the edge, who did it, and keep up the humour, drama and romance at the same time is simply, uncannily brilliant!

There were SO many times I just HAD to put the book down to take a breather, so that I could process what had just happened – there were just about a million twists that you will Never. See. Coming.

Need I say, READ IT!! 5 golden stars!

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