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Cruel Summer Paperback – May 27, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Colby Cavendish's plans are tossed overboard when her parents decide she should spend the summer with her aunt on a remote Greek island. They are jeopardizing her hard-won spot as ultracool Amanda's "new best friend," and now that she's hooked up with hottie Levi Bonham, how is she supposed to hang on to him? Crazy Aunt Tally, who talks to her plants and sells handmade jewelry, doesn't have a cell phone, TV, or Internet access. Colby's feelings and experiences are relayed through clever, but sometimes typographically confusing, emails, journal entries, letters, postcards, and a "Cruel Summer" blog. (The island has an Internet café.) The story is one of understandable teen frustration and resentment: adults don't make sense to her, and she's insecure about her new social status. She's far away from the usual connections, electronic and otherwise, that she and many comfortably middle-class, modern American teens rely on. An islander, Yannis, complicates her feelings for Levi, and Colby finds herself becoming involved, against her will, in the rhythms and lifestyle of this charming, remote place. The protagonist's venting and observations are alternately whiny, wistful, strident, and hilarious. Despite typical teen self-obsession, Colby is likable and ultimately well intentioned. As she deals with her feelings, she blunders her way rather charmingly into a new maturity.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Alyson Noël truly captures what it's like to be a teenager struggling to find herself.” ―Portrait Magazine

“Noël writes a smart and compelling story about life, love and loss that you won't be able to put down.” ―Cara Lockwood, author of Wuthering High

“Noël writes with a bit more humor and authenticity than some of her contemporaries.” ―Booklist


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312355114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312355111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,253,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on August 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Colbie Cavendish is looking forward to a fun summer spenet partying with her new (and über-popular) circle of friends. Unfortunately, her fighting parents decide to send her to a tiny Greek island no one's ever heard of to stay with her crazy aunt Tally. This is practically unforgivable to Colbie since she'll only have minimal contact with her new friends (email) and is worried they'll forget her. But when Colbie finally takes a break from being depressed about her vacation when she spends mostly in an Internet café, she realizes that maybe she should be out living instead of mourning all the changes to her old life. And that's when she meets Yannis, a gorgeous Greek guy who's just as interested in her as she is in him. It seems Colbie's vacation isn't as miserable as she thought it would be; it changes her perspective on her entire life.

I really enjoyed Alyson Noël's writing in her other novels that I've read, Faking 19 and Saving Zoë, and Cruel Summer was no different. While the plot isn't fast-paced and exciting, it's the well-developed characters that really caught my attention, though in this case, Colbie was the only well-developed character as the story was told from her point-of-view. Alyson Noël has a subtle way of making her stories much deeper and more meaningful than they may appear on the surface, and this makes them seem real. For example, Colbie is initially portrayed as a whiny and insecure girl, but as her vacation progresses, she starts to appreciate or at least accept what she has in life. I also liked how romance was incorporated into Colbie's story, because she really deserved Yannis in the midst of all her other problems. In all, Cruel Summer was a very enjoyable story and, despite the cover, much better than just a beach read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
After having already read some of Alyson Noel's other novels, I didn't enjoy this story quite as much though I still found it enjoyable to an extent. The story itself wasn't fast-paced or entirely intriguing, but the character development was really strong in this novel, especially regarding Colby Cavendish's character. Her developing relationship with Yannis induces her to see her entire social life back home in an entirely different perspective and it really allows the reader to both like and relate to Colby's character further. The budding romance between Colby and Yannis was also interesting and fun to read, though going from reading this novel the first time in high school to now reading this in my senior year of college, I don't place as much of my reading emphasis on the romantic aspect of the novel. Essentially, this novel whisks the reader away to the exotic location of Greece and invites them into Colby's world of spending time with a distanced, but fun-loving aunt, while continuously sulking, at first, about all of the fun she was missing out on back home. However, it is through Colby's character development that the novel really starts to come alive. I would recommend this book to anyone who does not need a fast-paced story to appreciate and experience the true character building that really happens within the story.
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Format: Paperback
Colby Cavendish has finally made it into the in crowd! She worked hard to gain Amanda's favor and now she's her new best friend. She's practically guaranteed the best Senior year ever! As an added bonus, Levi Bonham, the hottest guy in school, has suddenly become very interested in Colby! So interested that she's actually sitting right next to him on the couch at Amanda's house.

Okay, so Colby's just a little nervous that it's their first date...well, not even really a date. She's alone downstairs kissing Levi like she's always dreamed, like they'd been dating for forever, while Amanda is upstairs in her room with her guy. And Colby can't stop thinking about her curfew, which, by the way, passed, like, two hours ago. But at least she's stopped feeling guilty about dumping her former best friend, Natalie. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to progress up the social ladder. It's just part of life. Right?

Colby's parents are in the middle of a messy, angry divorce. Turns out they were so engrossed in their fight of the night, that they didn't even know Colby missed her curfew. It seems they barely remember they have a daughter, whose life they are royally screwing up. Then Colby finds out they have plans for her summer that don't include hitting the malls and becoming fully entrenched in her new social order.

They are sending her to Greece. No, not Athens. A tiny little island called Tinos. No amount of ranting, reasoning, pleading, or even crying will change their mind. Colby boards the plane bound for three months with Crazy Aunt Tally and no TV, no computer, no Wi-Fi. Nothing. How is she supposed to maintain her new social status? What if Colby gets replaced by a new Amanda Wanna-Be?

But soon things are looking up.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It was written in e-mails, letters, Colby's blog, and by Colby's diary. I usually don't like books like this with all the mixed letters and e-mails and stuff, but Cruel Summer was a fabulous read. I enjoyed it a lot - almost as much as I did Saving Zoe by the same author.

Cruel Summer has somewhat of a slow start, but when it starts to get interesting, it picks up right away after she gets to Tinos. Once it starts to get interesting, you won't want to put it down.

Alyson Noel really knows how to write a teenager's feelings. If I was in Colby's place, I would feel pretty much the same way that she does. Under her confident self, you see a teenager who is just confused and scared as to what will come next in her life. She doesn't know what will happen and she doesn't like it very much. The emotions are written really well, to say the least.

Cruel Summer is a wonderful read and the only real bad thing I can say about it was the slow start. Other than that, it was really, really good. And it was fun reading it now in the middle of winter when it was snowing outside, because it took place in warm Tinos and it made me think of summer. :) Which is always a plus, to me. :)
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