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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 166 reviews
on September 8, 2013
Likable characters, fascinating concepts, compelling motivation--on the surface this book has everything it takes to make a great story, but for some reason it fell pretty flat for me. I like long books--nothing delights me more than knowing I'll have at least a few days to spend in a new world--but I think this story could have been about half the length and still included everything necessary, and as a result of some slash and burn editing, would have been a tighter story. We read this in my book club and while there was one who absolutely loved the book, most of the others felt as I did. That it went on longer than necessary and as a result got a little boring. However, it was a cute story with some genuinely funny moments and I completely identified with Ethan's baseball woes at the beginning since that was me exactly in my high school gym class where all we did every spring was play softball. I have detested baseball & softball ever since so the copious baseball scenes once they're in the Fae dimension got incredibly tedious for me. I did, however, LOVE the "scampering" concept and all the world-tree mythology. I won't read it again, but it was worth reading once just for that.
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on August 5, 2003
Michael Chabon's first attempt at a novel for children (actually, for adolescents above age 12 or so) is a qualified success. "Summerland" has several things going for it: an imaginative plot, a magical setting, clever plays on words, Native American mythology, and lots of baseball metaphors. Yet--and this is a surprise for the author of "Kavalier and Clay"--the characters never really emerge from the dugout.
First, the highlights. Chabon's marvelous fantasy world is a multiverse: four different universes (the "human" world, Summerland, Winterland, and an inaccessible branch), connected by several hidden pathways that can be crossed with the help of "Shadowtails"--creatures who can instantly "scamper" within a world or can "leap" between universes. The inhabitants of these worlds include Sasquatches (don't call them "Bigfoot"!), wererats, goblins, giants, ferishers, pixies, and innumerable other species, all of whom share a passion for playing baseball, especially to settle their many otherworldly bets, arguments, and conflicts. The four worlds are intertwined branches of the Lodgepole (alias "The Tree"), which the evil Coyote and his followers (the "Rade") plan to poison and thus end the world as we know it (or thought we knew it, until a werefox shows up in a corner of Washington State). The hero, Ethan, and his friends from Clam Island are chosen (naturally) to save the universe.
The author does an admirable job of depicting both his mystical creation and Ethan's adventures, and he does so with a good deal of wit and humor. Ultimately, however, the novel's main characters are drawn with indistinct strokes, and the supporting cast is barely drawn at all. The book's premise demands a team of nine (in order to play ball, of course), plus a variety of fiends and lingering oddballs, but Chabon doesn't really flesh out the almost twenty characters who have major screen time. The protagonists are one-note characters: Ethan (insecure and unathletic), Jennifer T (tomboyish), Thor (an outsider, but for a reason), and Mr. Feld (bumbling). The rest of the crew, unfortunately, is somewhat indistinguishable. Even after 500 pages, I couldn't tell you who was Cutbelly, who was Cinquefoil, and who was Pettipaw, and whether they were werefoxes, wererats, werewolves, or what have you. And, desperately in need of a ninth player 360 pages into the story, our heroes abduct an aging major-league Anaheim Angel, who then pretty much serves as a needless benchwarmer for the remainder of the plot.
Kids might be enthralled enough by the fantasy elements to enjoy "Summerland," but, as an adult who reads both fantasies and children's literature, I found the lack of characterization a serious disappointment. All the same, I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy the likes of Philip Pullman, C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, and Tolkien, and who are counting the hours until the sixth Harry Potter book comes out.
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on February 4, 2003
Imagine "the idea of the fate of the universe coming down to the bottom of the ninth" (p.450, Coyote). Wouldn't it be something if the conflicts of the world could be resolved through a good game of baseball? They want the West Bank? Don't bomb innocent civilians! Simply send Mr. Arafat up to the plate! Sadam? Osama? Just strike `em out, President Bush! Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Yet, Michael Chabon created such a reality in the magical, fantastical SUMMERLAND.
I first became interested in this book while reading a magazine article in the waiting room of my doctor's office. The article discussed how many adult fiction writers have followed J.K. Rowling's lead and started writing novels geared to the pre-adolescent and adolescent age group. SUMMERLAND caught my attention because I was, at that time, reading some of his other work and I thought it would be interesting to see how Mr. Chabon made the transition to the new genre. More importantly, I saw that the book's theme revolved around baseball which is my passion. What a I discovered was a wonderful book for a baseball-a-holic/fantasy-fiction lover suffering from suffering from severe WBWS - "Winter Baseball Withdrawal Syndrome"!
This is the story of 11-year-old Ethan Feld, a mediocre ball-player at best, who was chosen to use his skills and determination to prevent the end of the world. He is joined in his adventures by some amazing characters - from friends from home to werefoxes, ferishers, giants and a Sasquatch - in his quest to defeat the satanic Coyote and his destructive Rade.
Although any lover of fantasy should consider reading this, an appreciation of baseball would probably be helpful. I hope to see this in movie theaters - it would translate really well on the big screen if it is done right
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on November 25, 2014
One of my biggest complaints about Michael Chabon's writing is that sometimes it feels like he took fourteen tries to write his description of a turkey sandwich. I like to have a lot of detail, but sometimes he takes it too far. Nice to read a Chabon book that you don't have to analyze constantly.

My book reviews will remain brief, so as not to divulge anything about the storyline that I did not know when I started reading it.
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on December 31, 2003
I expected a funny interesting book from the writer of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, but I didn't give Chabon enough credit. Summerland is great if you like baseball or fantasy, or if you enjoy any story with an active imagination.
This book is 1 part fable (explaining why there is never any rainfall on this small corner of Washington), 5 parts adventure (Ethan Feld is on a quest - not only to improve his pitching, but also to save Summerland, baseball, and the world), and 2 parts baseball, bringing in not only detailed information about the game and some of the best players, but also a genuine love of the sport.
A kid at heart, I love reading kids books, but this is really a book for all ages. I bought two copies of this book after reading it (in hardback because this book is so good it can't wait for the paperback version) - one for my 10 year old sister and one for my 28 year old sister. It is really that good. I loved this book.
Thank you Michael Chabon for writing it. Summerland is wonderful.
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on August 6, 2016
ordered 5 hardback copies of this book from 5 different suppliers; all were delivered in excellent condition within 24 hours of each other; 5 stars for each supplier, thank you, and yes, it is an really good book
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on July 18, 2016
gift book for tween-Chabon is one of the greatest authors today-his writing is just magnificent whether its this foray into young adult lit or anythng else-can't wait for all else he creates
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on February 23, 2013
I bought this book because I read it as a child and loved it. I figured, as someone who hates baseball, the book must have been pretty good to keep my attention for something like 500 pages. The book totally met my expectations, to the point where I also bought a bunch of other books by Michael Chabon.
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on September 16, 2013
Terrific story by a writer who clearly loves baseball and mythology. My eight-year-old daughter loves it. If you are very unfamiliar with baseball and don't want to have it as part of the story then this might not be the book for you. Otherwise, it's a fun, very well written book with themes and characters that go well beyond baseball or anything else.
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on July 16, 2017
Nice product.
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