Monday, April 9, 2012

Summer of Night

Going for a change of pace here with a book review instead of a movie review, but the KFP web comic work has strangled my time lately for flick reviews.  Also, this was a terrific book for the spring and summer season, so I thought I'd toss the suggestion out there in case anyone was looking for a fun read.

Summer of Night was an ideal inspiration for the fledgeling KFP web comic as well, because it's all about the adventures of a group of 12 year old friends in the summer of 1960 as they face untold horror.  It is very much a "Boys' Own Adventure" book, writ for adults, where brave kids face off hideous evil with holy water-filled waterguns and crazy plans.

The story is simple -
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..

It really is every kid's nightmare - To be haunted by your own malevolent school!  Old Central is a hulking Hill House of a central character, built generations ago and sized for the town growth that never came, now only partly used by a small town's schoolchildren.  It dominates the book and its presence reaches out to all the kids, haunting them in their own bedrooms with childhood fears - Yes, there IS something under the bed and in the closet.  It's a lot of fun.  Also, with the warm weather of summer coming on, it's perfectly timed to the season and will bring back vivid flashbacks of what it was like to sit in class on that final day before summer vacation, staring at the clock, waiting for the school year to be over.  No more assignments, no more tests, and your teacher had given up and just had everyone sit and read or talk till the last bell rang.

The reviews of this are loaded with comparisons to Stephen King's It, and they're somewhat well founded simply because both books detail the battles of school kids against terrifying evils, but it's not a rehash.  Where It bounced back and forth from childhood flashbacks to adult life and employed the theme of adult regret...  Lost promise, lost dreams, lost potential, Summer of Night plays out entirely with the kids.  It's a much more direct, "Heroes vs Bad Thing" story.  I felt It was the better of the two books - It's one of the few novels that's ever really moved me to tears, after all, but Summer of Night is still a joyous romp that I'd recommend to anyone.

In general KFP news, some of you may have noticed the new Shelfari widget to the right - That will be regularly updated with what I'm reading, for any other avid readers out there.  I may post a book review here now and then, we'll see how it goes.  Some of you may also have noticed these new Chime links - They're for an interest-based social network I've been enjoying recently.  And finally, the KFP web comic will be returning, but I've also set it up on the Drunk Duck web comic site, where it can be formatted and surfed much more easily via convenient "First comic/Previous/Next/Latest" buttons for those who want to read KFP strips straight through without having them interspersed with movie reviews and such.  The link's in the upper right.

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