Thursday, September 15, 2016

Review: THE BOYS OF SUMMER by Richard Cox

I reviewed The Boys of Summer (Night Shade Books) by Richard Cox for Lone Star Literary Life! This coming-of-age novel is a creative and original blend of science fiction and historical fiction, and has been recommended for fans of Stranger Things. From the review:
The tornado that struck Wichita Falls, Texas, on April 10, 1979, serves as the catalyst for this coming-of-age story. The Boys of Summer are Bobby (the jock), Jonathan (the brain), David (as in King), Adam (the born-again), and Todd (the cipher), nine and ten years old when the storm alters the trajectories of all of their lives. Todd is so traumatized by the tornado that he enters a catatonic state. When he surfaces four years later, he possesses a maturity beyond his years, and a creepy knowledge of events that have not happened yet. Twenty-five years later history begins to repeat itself, and the boys, now men, must face the consequences of their actions and account for how they’ve spent their lives. 
The Boys of Summer by Richard Cox is difficult to qualify. It is speculative fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy, incorporating political, economic, and religious philosophies. It reminds me simultaneously of Stand by Me (1986), The Omen (1976), and The Truman Show (1998). The Boys of Summer deals in free will and predestination, asking whether the individual can rewrite the ending. And maybe the beginning. 
Cox’s plot feels labyrinthine, but this is deceptive. It’s really quite simple, unfurling at a steady pace while Cox insidiously doles out puzzle pieces. A subplot involving a Wichita Falls detective whose wife has the same diagnosis as Todd had—catatonic schizophrenia—executes the rare feat of enhancing the main plot. It meshes seamlessly. The story moves back and forth in time from the afternoon of the tornado, to events immediately following Todd’s re-emergence into the world, and the reckoning for those events twenty-five years later. The ominous weather forecasts that begin each section of the novel are an inspired touch. It is possible to go crazy from the heat.
Click here to read the entire review. Thank you!

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