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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Summer of Night (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Dan Simmons

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1,247286,356 (3.96)68
Title:Summer of Night
Authors:Dan Simmons
Info:Headline Book Publishing (1991), Hardcover, 473 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:1960s, coming of age, horror, supernatural, midwest

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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (1991)


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Summer of Night could be shorter and it wouldn't lose anything. I see readers comparing it to [b:It|18342|It|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309376909s/18342.jpg|150259] or [b:Boy's Life|11553|Boy's Life|Robert McCammon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314302694s/11553.jpg|16685995]. Fortunately for this book, I still have to read Boy's Life, so that leaves It. I don't think it could stand the comparison to both. The similarities with It are obvious - a group of pre-teens fighting something evil. However, while I liked the children from It, it took me a while to see anything remotely good in this group.

Certain things are a bit repetitive. Yes, we got that Kevin has pronounced Adam's apple, we got it the first time that Dale is afraid of basement and Lawrence is afraid of the dark. I never got to like Jim Harlen though. I think the boy is one of the selfish kids I've read so far. How could I like a kid who thinks that if his mother had been 'a better wife, then his father wouldn't have had to start dating that secretary he's run away with.' And yet I find him really sad. His mother wouldn't be winning any rewards for parenting. The kid is a great material for a serial killer. I still find it hard to place him in that little group of generally decent boys. Still, I have to admit that he is one of the strongest of the bunch. Considering his life I even feel sorry for him.

One of the most annoying things is that none of the blurbs I've read mentions a girl with them. There is one and she is hardly unimportant even if she doesn't appear as much as the boys. There were quite a few moments in the book when her presence turned the tide.

However, the book sneaks up to you. I started hating these kids, then being annoyed by them only to end up feeling sorry for some and love others. I liked Duane the most. As much as they are annoying there is always something they do to make me like them a bit more each time: Mike standing guard over his sick grandmother, Dale's relationship with his younger brother, Lawrence and his bravery and so on.

As for the plot, the book is really slow. All the encounters with evil are individual until after more than half of the book. Only then the boys make somewhat coherent fighting force. The book managed to surprise me and make me angry. I honestly didn't expect certain things to happen.
Even though I didn't like it as I did It, it is still a good story that could have been a bit shorter.

( )
  Aneris | Apr 22, 2017 |
The Short of It:

A good story but not as scary as I had hoped it to be.

The Rest of It:

This book kept reminding me of the TV show Stranger Things. I think I mentioned the similarity no less than six times on social media. Summer of Night is actually book #1 in a series. I was not aware of that when I started it, but it really works as a stand alone novel (in case anyone is interested).

Small towns can be creepy and this one comes complete with a “rendering truck” tearing-up stuff all around town. Just the idea of a truck filled with dead animals in various stages of decay is enough to make you cringe but to have a truck like that come after you? A pre-teen you? Terrifying.

Oh, and then there are dead people floating up to second story windows and holes that magically appear underneath beds with the sole purpose of pulling kids down into them. Like I said, scary stuff but as with most novels that center around young people, the young people band together and battle all that is evil and it makes for a good story.

But, it was slow in parts. REAL slow. Simmons like to write and this book is just under 500 pages but the pacing was a little uneven. Some parts were incredibly suspenseful and others functioned as set dressing but all in all, it was a good read. Maybe not the scariest book ever read… which is how it is noted on many horror lists but very good. I loved all of the characters. Simmons does a great job of developing each one.

Have you read it?

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Dec 8, 2016 |

4.5 stars

Summer of Night is one of those books where the story is a delight to read but the review is kind of hard to do. It's also my first novel from Dan Simmons. After finishing this book, I definitely want to read more of his work soon.

The story is a sort of coming-of-age tale centered around a group of children growing up together in a small town in the 60's. School is out, summer is here, how exciting. The author brings alive the excitement of that first summer day when school is out and only months ahead await children who are eager to explore, to live, to have fun without responsibility. Idyllic summer days and nights. It opens in an old school that has seen its last class for it's about to be closed down, and the children all coming together on different days to try and solve the mysteries of the town, the horrors which await them. Each child comes from a different household holding its own basket of dysfunction. The households become as interesting as the main tale.

Although the story is deep and steeped richly in imagination, it's a fully characterized book, focusing on the internal thoughts and relationships for each of the children. I was dismayed at the death of a favorite, which I never saw coming. Simmons doesn't hold back the horrors of the death punch when delivering shocks for the book.

Nothing is predictable with how it will turn out and what will happen next. The ending with the villain and the wrap-up is in-depth, intelligent, and heavy with created history. There are no convenient or suddenly established plot points, but instead it was well constructed before the book was born to be slowly unraveled as small pieces are slowly handed out to the book's characters.

It's a slow ride that didn't invest its hooks into me right away, so patience IS needed to trust this one to take off successfully. Still, despite the slower start, the internal character shifts are handled effectively and work well to not try the reader's patience. Huge emotional stakes in the characters’ lives helped me keep reading.

Simmons was also talented with writing some truly creepy scenes, especially when deaths were involved, very awful and haunting stuff. Violence and blood isn't backed away from when it's needed, but it's not splashed on the page for mere shock effect.

I did knock off half a star for some sluggishness and the death of a character who brought much to the story so that when they were gone, some of the magic left with them. Overall, though, this was an incredibly ambitious book that worked on all levels.

If you're a horror fan who enjoyed the childhood trials in Stephen King's IT, or the bonding and tragedy in Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, you'll almost certainly love Summer of Night. There's something especially effective about drama-horror focusing on adolescence and coming of age in the midst of trials and struggles, calling upon the power of friendship to draw strength to defeat foes so much larger than individual self.

Convincing in drama, rich in mystery, with hefty doses of genuine horror - all make this book an experience not to be passed up.
( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
School is out in the small Ohio town of Elm Haven. This will be the last class of Old Central built in 1876. The atmosphere has always been less than pleasant but now it is perpetrated with evil beyond imagination. The kids of Elm Haven sense this evil and are determined to fight it but the entity has lived too long to give in easily. The advantage is that few adults will believe them if they told. The book is filled with how life was in small town America 45 years ago. It will really bring back memories. You can almost smell the corn growing as you remember lazy summers of your childhood. If you like really good horror stories then this is just your ticket. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Dan Simmons was well-cemented in place as one of my favorite authors before I read this book - this just raises him that much more in my esteem. The man can write in apparently every genre with the same level of intensity.

Summer of Night tells the tale of six boys who have just finished the sixth grade (well, one of them is actually a couple of years behind) at the same time that their school - a more-than-one-hundred-year-old building - is being closed for good. But, as they prepare for an adventurous summer vacation, an ancient evil seeks to complete a transformation that began when the school was built.

The story is replete with the stuff of which adolescent nightmares are made ... and symbolic, perhaps? I don't know what Simmons' intent was when he wrote the book, and the introduction that accompanies this edition does not preclude the possibility of this, but there is plenty of reason to wonder if some of the things that happen, and the principals involved, could well stand as symbols of many of the things involved in the passage into "teen-hood." And that just increases my estimation of Dan Simmons' writing.

One of the characters in the book is apparently Simmons' representation of himself. The story is set in a small town in Illinois (where Simmons apparently grew up), it takes place in 1960, when Simmons would have been around 12 years old, and the protagonists are - by and large - 12, as well.

Enjoy!!! ( )
  jpporter | May 24, 2015 |
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This is for Wayne, who was there when it all happened.
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Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A monstrous, timeless entity is devouring children. Adults either refuse to understand what is happening, or are themselves agents for the monster. A group of young boys, in uneasy partnership with an outcast girl, realize they must kill the creature before it devours them all.
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In the summer of 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, a sinister being is stalking the town's children, and when a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the town's residents know it marks the end of innocence.

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