Review of Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
This was a pretty good read but I didn’t love it as I hoped to. This story had a queer Grease vibe that I was really excited about reading. The premise was good, but there were some obvious issues for me, mostly story choices, that I’m not a fan of when an author uses them. I have a feeling this book might work better for people who don’t share some of my dislikes.
Firstly, while I didn’t like all the characters, on an overall scale I thought they were well done. Even some of the secondary characters, that were a little 2D, still each had their own unique voice. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I’m horrible at remembering names, especially when I’m learning more than one or two new ones at a time. But with this book I had no issues remembering who was who at all. Every character had their own personality and was done well – including the parent characters.
Speaking of good characters, I was actually surprised how much I liked the character that the main does NOT end up with in the end. This is one of those stories that you read knowing the character is dating the “wrong one” until she can come to her senses and be with whom she is supposed to be. But in this book, the “wrong one” actually seemed like a sweet character. Normally authors will have the “wrong one” be a real jerk kind of character but I liked that Alder made them a real possibility so we could understand why the main character was torn.
While Adler did a great job in making the “wrong one” likable, she bumped into one of my biggest issues on the way. Too much time was spent with the two mains apart and not as a couple or working towards being one. This is a romance and it’s hard to have a romance when the two characters who you expect to get the HEA or HFN, never spend any time together. Not only did they have very little time together as a couple, but they also spent a lot of the book physically apart. Too much time was spent with the “wrong one” and the main romance suffered for it.
I know that Adler tried to have more romance time for the mains but her way of showing that was almost entirely with flashbacks. Flashbacks how I hate thee! Yes, I know sometimes they are needed but 90% of the time they just don’t really cut it. In this case, Alder was able to show that the two mains had definite chemistry together, but she was not able to show that they had that a real deep and emotional past connection. It felt more surface level, still getting to know you, not L-word kind of romance.
I really like my YA stories to be filled with emotional teenage angst but this one didn’t quite get there. There was angst sure, but it was mostly just due to no communication. No one talks at all, that is until the last quarter of the book. The whole end of the book is the main character having big important conversations with four different people since she never talked to anyone. I think it’s not a surprise that the ending, when communication was finally happening, was my favorite part of the book.
I think this YA book would be more geared towards older teens and adults. It’s not dark or triggering, but sex is definitely talked about. The sex scenes are not really explicit, but they’re not PG either. It’s explicit enough that you know what’s going on if that makes any sense. There is also a good amount of casual teen drinking. I’m not very good at age-ranging books but I thought I should mention this for any librarians who might read this review.
As you can see, this book definitely had some ups and downs for me. I loved the Grease premise and the overall feel of the book. It was very readable with some well-done characters. The problem was that this book also had three book pet-peeves of mine. If you don’t have issues with flashbacks, no communication, and characters not spending much “relationship” time together, then this book might work a lot better for you. I liked Adler’s writing style enough that I would read her again and hopefully that book would be a better personal fit. 3.50 Stars.
An ARC was given to me for a review.