09 May 2016

ARC Review: The Last Days of Summer, Vanessa Ronan

The Last Days of Summer

Title: The Last Days of Summer
Author: Vanessa Ronan
Published: 05/05/2016, Penguin
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Format: Ebook

Rating: 3.5/5

"She can forgive. They can't forget.

After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she's letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.

Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.

Jasper says he's all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door."

The Last Days of Summer was an enjoyable read, even if it did seem like a bit of a slog at times. It's not an easy read, but it definitely gets you thinking.

The Last Days of Summer is set in rural America (Texas if I remember correctly) so from what I know about rural America (which isn't much, to be honest) it feels real. You get a real small town feeling - everyone thinks they know everything about everyone. This is relatable for all small towns too.

The characters all seemed real to me, but I'm not sure if they were particularly likeable. I mean, at times I would start to sort of like Jasper and would feel sorry for him. But then, he'd do something creepy and I'd remember what he'd done. I was just really creeped out by him. He does care deeply for his family in his own way, though, especially Joanne.

I really felt sorry for Lizzie, She really is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Jasper is her brother so she obviously loves him, but she just can't forgive him. And I totally understand this (even though I haven't been through something so awful). Lizzie is also a pretty tough woman. She's had to grow a thick skin herself to cope.

Joanne, Lizzie's youngest daughter, is the character I liked the most. I loved that she acted her age and was childlike. She has an innocence about her and really warms to Jasper even though she knows he has done horrid things. To her he is just her uncle. She sort of sees the good in him and gives him a chance. I think Joanne's character just makes the whole story that bit more hard-hitting because a lot revolves around a child.

I disliked Katie, Lizzie's eldest daughter, so much. She really is a bit of a selfish bitch. She only cares about looking pretty and her boyfriend, Josh. Sure she isn't happy about living with her uncle, but she doesn't stop to think how it also affects her mum and sister. Her actions annoyed me so much and resulted in horrifying consequences.

The Last Days of Summer is told from the alternating third-person perspectives of all four members of the family. As there are no chapters (in this arc copy anyway), the sudden changes in perspective did get confusing at times and it took a few sentences to be sure of which character you were reading. I also felt that with no chapters, the pace was off. It seemed to take forever to read, but then the final 30% or so really picked up with loads of action. I also love that Jasper's crime wasn't fully revealed until near the end and the way in which it is revealed highlights Joanne's innocence brilliantly. The crime was slightly predictable but the reader never fully knows what extent Jasper went to until it is revealed.

The Last Days of Summer is a very suspenseful read that I enjoyed fairly well. I'd definitely recommend it to adults (as some of Jasper's thoughts are disgusting!) who enjoy hard-hitting suspense-filled reads. I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for more by Vanessa Ronan too.

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