Book Review: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

Posted June 12, 2017 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 2 Comments Tags:

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I received this book for free from the Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Cold Summer by Gwen ColeCold Summer by Gwen Cole
Published by Sky Pony Press on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Romance
Pages: 322
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher via Edelweiss
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three-stars

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future. Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.
Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.
When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.
But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

I was so excited for this book and couldn’t believe it when I had approval to read it ahead of time from the publisher. I love time travel books and I get so excited to see how everything is done. But then add in a relationship where they used to be friends, World War II, and the possibility of Kale dying in the past?! I was definitely looking forward to this and dove right in as soon as I downloaded it. But unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

I really loved Harper and Kale. Separately, they both had really interesting backstories and were pretty well developed characters, I found them both interesting and would have wanted to follow their individual stories even if I didn’t also love how their stories overlapped and loved seeing them together. I loved their relationship and how it developed, both the glimpses from the past when they were younger and now as they’re rediscovering their friendship and what more they might have. I also absolutely loved Uncle Jasper and the stability he provided not only to Harper and Kale but also to the story. He really felt like the only secondary character that I could really count on being consistent. I liked most of the others but they tended to show up randomly and then have the rest of their stories told to us by the MCs instead of being able to see them again throughout the book. But the characters were definitely my favorite part of the story and what has stuck with me most since reading it.

As I said above, I’m always intrigued by time-travel books. I just can’t resist them. And I really loved the scenes where Kale travels in this one. There isn’t much of an explanation for how or why it happens or where the ability (curse?) came from, it just sort of is. Which I guess I’m okay with because I’d rather it just be a part of who he is than some super complicated reason that doesn’t even end up making sense. But if you need reasons and explanations, you will be disappointed with this. And don’t go in expecting a WWII book, there are just short glimpses of that time and they’re all pretty predictable.

For me, the biggest struggle was just the writing. It wasn’t as smooth or as polished as I had hoped. I did read this as an eARC so the final might have less bumps along the way but I can’t be sure. It’s just one of those things that you don’t notice if it’s good but if it isn’t, it sticks out like crazy. Mostly I just noticed the pacing being off, the awkward sentences, the same words being used over and over again, and certain plotlines being built up and then turning into nothing. But unfortunately, all of those little things together just ended up bugging me a lot. And in the end it made it hard for me to really connect emotionally with the characters and made the overall reading experience for me just not very smooth.

But overall, I loved the characters and am glad I had the chance to meet them. If you’re looking for a fast read with time-traveling and a little romance and an absolutely gorgeous cover, you should check this one out. But don’t expect too much from it. It comes with a very interesting concept but doesn’t deliver in the truly important moments.

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