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 childhood. But amid the sun-drenched 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-peaceful 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....
©2011 Dan Simmons (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“Impressive...combines beautiful writing and suspense into a book for which Dan Simmons deserves the bestseller status of King and Koontz.” (The Denver Post)
“One can only wonder what Simmons will do next, now that he’s shown us he can do everything the best writers in horror and science fiction can do.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
“It stands with the best of King and Straub in the traditional modern horror genre.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Dan Simmons is one of my favorite writers. I've previously read Song of Kali, the Hyperion Cantos, Carrion Comfort, and Prayers to Broken Stones. I sometimes feel apprehension when reading a previously unread novel by an author I've come to love, because of the potential disappointment when the spell is broken. It's been broken (and redeemed) many times by Stephen King.
No worries then, on Summer of Night! This is a story reminiscent of two other novels I know, both by Stephen King: It and The Body (which appeared in Different Seasons and was the basis for the movie Stand By Me). I would not say that this is a derivative work, however. Simmons has his own ideas and agendas. The story is thrilling and the characters are rich and diverse, and though it sounds hackneyed, the portrait of small town life is on the money. If you've ever been afraid of your elementary school basement or hung out with a clever group of school kids, this book will resonate with you. Despite the age of the kids in the story, this is not a juvenile work and deserves a mature audience rating for violence (though not really more so than The Illiad), language (though again, probably not more so than Slaughter House Five), etc.
There may be some in-jokes or nods in Summer of Night. Duane may be a particular version of the detective in Carrion Comfort. I believe that the character Harland is a playful nod to Harlan Ellison, given their similar attitudes and, well, vernacular.
By way of explanation, I do not practice "inflation" in my ratings. I give the story four stars only because five stars is reserved for excellent works of deep significant: Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, Dune, The Name of the Rose, Shogun, and works of this level. Catcher in the Rye would be a four-star by my reckoning.
The audiobook was among the best performed that I've listened to. It was certainly well above the recording of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (which often sounded like an Al Franken SNL skit).
That said the presentation is well done and I enjoyed it, however, the narration was well done until it came to ANY dialogue between the main characters (all children) at which point the narrator chose the obnoxious tactic of making his voice soft, squeaky, or soft and squeaky to differentiate between them. The most obnoxious of these was for the only young female character, Cordelia Cook. Her voice is described as a monotone in the book and not only is it not a monotone but the squeaky nature of the reading of her dialogue is almost unbearable at times.
This is one of my favorite books and I read my copy until the cover fell apart so I'm willing to concede that I may be biased to some degree however the irritating vocal choices bothered me so much that I found I had to force myself to finish the book.
Listen to the preview before buying.
Sci Fi Reader
This is a great book, kind of a scary stand by me. A little Super 8. Perfectly narrated. I wish it did not have to end.
If you liked "The Goonies" and "Stand by me" with a twist of Dean Koontz you will enjoy this story. It's nice to have someone read it to you too, it gives you a differant perspective on emotions and characters.
So Many Books, So Little Time...
Its in the realm of It. You have a group of children fighting against a force that adults refuse to see or acknowledge. In this group you also have diverse social differences.
He was able to make a clear representation of each character
No. I finished in a little over a week
The imagery, sense of nostalgia, and suspense made for an awesome experience.
BEWARE of the reviews likening this work to some of Stephen King's. That said, though, it is possible that the audiobook would have been a success if the narrator had had the skills necessary to the task. I dislike trashing a narrator (and Miller would be just fine in other contexts), but the voicings of the kids (around whom the story revolves, after all) are really bad, and Miller reads tense, threatening situations almost as though he's narrating "Wind in the Willows." Pay attention to the Sample and realize that that tone will obtain even when the storyline has turned to the dark, ominous, threatening. The non-fit of tone to content and the sheer fakiness of the the kids' voices were more horrific than the story. (Note, though, that I listened to "only" the first 7 hours. After that I had to give up.) (By the way, I loved the Hyperion series and The Terror.)
Yes, because the story was good. Not great but good. It suffers from a common malady, that of adult authors trying to sound like kids. They never seem to get it right. But the story held together in spite of that.
The tension of the individual set pieces was well done.
This may be the poorest match of reader and story ever. Miller seems to just be reading the words as written with no attempt at all to tell a story. As a person reads a book, their brain fills in the missing elements - the atmosphere, the cadence of the voices, the sights and sounds that are suggested by the story. But when listening to someone else read a book, those nuances that make the story come alive need to come from the narrator.
Miller provides none of that. His reading is flat and uninflected, a real disappointment. And the fact that it is a horror story that relies on building tension, well, if the story hadn't been such fun, I'd have asked for a refund.
I would listen to Will Patton or Campbell Scott read road signs for 24 hours straight. But if I see Dan John Miller's name on another book, I will avoid it no matter how great the story.
For the story - and only the story - yes.
There is no such thing as "a myriad of." Myriad is a plural modifier. You don't have "a myriad of" grammatical mistakes in a book. You have "myriad" grammatical mistakes. The word was used incorrectly at least twice in this book. I know that I'm being pretty anal but seriously, authors should know stuff like this.
Dan John Miller made this book come to life for me. It is well written and well read. Has hints of Stephen King's Stand by Me and Robert McCammon's Boy's Life with plenty of suspense and horror thrown in. I would highly recommend this book!
First to be fair, I stopped listening half way through the first of the 3 chapter breaks so if what I didn't like somehow changed, I'd be surprised. Regardless of what was going on at any given moment of the plot, Simmons doesn't convey any sense of dread or horror even during the "scary parts". The comparisons to King's Stand By Me or IT are warranted and would have been fine had it not been such at labored attempt at recreating the same vibe as those stories. For example, MUCH too much time dwelling on the details of a baseball game and the neighborhood kids to draw out that sense of camaraderie was really painful. That's when I called it quits. Disappointed. Right now, even though I feel I've drained all my options for horror fiction, I won't be going back to finish this. If the story is good it's still a huge bore because it simply isn't scary. The narration doesn't help but it's not all his fault. There is an art to horror that I'm afraid so many modern writers don't get.
if you are like me you quickly burn through your favorite authors on audible and then have to mine for a nugget , this isnt one but it is flecked , alot of other reviews compare it to stand by me , but that is not right it is closer to IT than SBM and closer to the goonies than Salems lot I like alot about this book except I cannot for the life of me think why Dan simmons spent so much time describing how brilliant the fat kids father was, together the son and father invented everything except the ipod 50 years ago , but it is still worth alisten if you have the credits and hours to burn.
"Stand By Me with zombies"
The school holidays are just starting and the boys are delighted that the school is being demolished. Days of bike riding and baseball are interrupted when a school child goes missing and the boys take it upon themselves to police their town. Their sleuthing puts them in danger, but it's not a physical threat, something otherworldly is going on..... does the recently closed down school house more than desks and blackboards?
"Spellbinding horror in a sleepy town"
Remember all those movies that came out when we were kids, about other kids getting into trouble and solving smuggling mysteries or uncovering old buried treasure all the while their parents had no idea and just wanted them back for dinner on time? This is that movie, cranked up to max! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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