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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
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Summer of Night (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Dan Simmons

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1,158217,025 (3.97)65
Member:sn
Title:Summer of Night
Authors:Dan Simmons
Info:Headline Book Publishing (1991), Hardcover, 473 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:1960s, coming of age, horror, supernatural, midwest

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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (1991)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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 |
I read the reviews before buying this audiobook, and was surprised by the vast differences in reviewer opinion. For some, the book was too long, and others never wanted it to end.

This novel is long, but if you grew up in the 50,s 60;s, or 70;s, you will probably feel a sense of nostalgia. If you grew up before those decades, I would imagine the book would seem wordy and too lengthy.

Summer of Night falls somwhere between "It" and "Stand By Me" in the dewey decimal system of your mind, which are both by Stehen King. I loved this novel, and think the writing vividly depicts a coming- of- age story involving several teen boys. They cus, they drink, they go on adventures. They have good parents, they have awful parents, and they rely on each other.

There is the issue of childhood death in this story along with the parental grief that follows. That kind of raw emotion has always been difficult for me to take as a reader, but Simmons manages to make it part of the overall horror story instead of an emotional mess.

The writing is good, I got lost in the book, and I really liked the characters and the charater development. Dan John Miller was an excellent choie for narration. ( )
  steeleyjan | Apr 16, 2015 |
It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys’ days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood—against an arcane abomination who owns the night...

Nostalgic, reminiscence Gothic tale crossed with Stephen King’s IT.

"Few events in a human being's life--at least a male human being's life--are as free, as exuberant, as infinitely expansive and filled with potential as the first day of summer when one is an eleven-year-old boy"

I love the way Dan Simmons writes and here he is pitch perfect capturing that uniquely childhood experience of that first day of the holidays with the whole of summer stretching out in front of you filled with anticipation, fun and adventure…maybe a little too much adventure in this case

Summer of Night boasts a fascinating cast of characters, relationships, conflicts and horrors set in the in the bucolic town of Elm Haven, Illinois in 1960.

Beautiful writing with characters you care about, the author does a wonderful a job of visualising Gothic midwestern America.

Clever, frightening, and gripping and highly recommended
( )
  jan.fleming | Feb 9, 2015 |
This started out as what I thought was going to be a boy's-coming-of-age-over-the-summer type of book, sort of like Robert McCammon's BOY'S LIFE. But then not too far into the story, things got freaky. Weird stuff and then more weird stuff. Pretty soon I was wondering what was happening and how was everything going to be explained. Then it got scary, real scary! It no longer resembled what I thought it was and instead turned into a teenagers-against-the-evil-creatures type of book. It is extremely well written with good characterization and a plot that insinuates itself into you without you knowing it. Additionally core characters to the book get injured and killed leaving you not knowing what will happen or to whom. This is the first book in a while that has scared me while reading it. Something to be definitely enjoyed!! ( )
  dagon12 | Aug 30, 2014 |
In Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, an ancient and forgotten evil comes to life in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, where a close-knit group of recently graduated sixth graders are among the few to realize it’s happening, and soon understand they are the only ones who can deal with it.

Though a terrific work of horror, Summer of Night is much more than that. It’s a coming-of-age tale that deftly recalls what it’s like to be eleven-years-old, no longer a kid, but yet not truly adolescent either. It affectionately captures hot, sweaty summer days of riding bikes, playing sandlot baseball, camping out, long days spent in the woods, and a nascent and budding interest in the opposite sex.

It also quite cleverly captures a time, the year 1960, with black and white background images of Democrats nominating Kennedy, and the first satellites being sent into space; and a place, the dying town of Elm Haven, Illinois, which doesn’t know that it’s dying.

The source of the horror both stretches credulity and is quite clever. Then again, it doesn’t matter what causes the World War I soldier to come out of his grave and stalk one of the character’s grandmothers. It doesn’t matter how the lamprey creatures can burrow and surface and dive into asphalt as easily as a dolphin in water. And it certainly doesn’t matter what caused the interior of Old Central School to become ensconced in viscous fluids, pulsing eggsacks, and fleshy tentacles. What matters is it has happened and must be dealt with.

One of the things I find interesting about reading an obviously semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale is trying to determine exactly which character is the author. In this book, there are many to choose from. There’s altar boy and all-around good guy Mike O’Rourke; earnest Dale Stewart and his younger brother Lawrence. There’s wiseass Jim Harlen, and quietly strong Kevin Grumbacher. And in the background, hovering over them all, is the bookish and brilliant (and doomed) Duane McBride.

Though it becomes obvious toward the end which character most resembles Simmons, I’m struck upon every re-reading just how fully drawn each of the characters is, and can’t help but think there’s a little bit of Simmons in all of them.

What strikes me most upon each re-reading of this book is the universality of it. Though I wasn’t born at the time this book takes place, it captures my own perhaps romanticized memories of my youth, hot summer days playing baseball and hanging out with friends, of riding bikes and camping out and playing in the woods. That may be why I re-read this book every few years or so.

It’s always good to catch up with old friends. ( )
  BrendanPMyers | Jun 23, 2014 |
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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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