Summary: Too long
Comment: It's about 175 pages too long.There's pastoral accounts of the boys,their hometown,the neighbors,streets,;enough already.I found it a struggle to get through the first half of it.The second half is much better and almost makes up for the fact this puppy is 600 pages long.
Summary: Builds up slowly and reels you in
Comment: Wow, this is one good horror novel. It's been a while since I gave a 5 star to a book, but I think this book deserves it. I don't have many complaints, and the one complaint I do have actually is good in a way too.
This book is similar to the famous Stephen King novel IT in that it's about a group of young children ages 8-12 set in a small town in the 1960s. But don't be put off by that, it is only a superficial similarity, the story itself is far different and just as good in its own way.
A group of young friends have begun to sense an evil menace hovering around the old school (called Old Central) that eventually encompasses the entire town of Elm Haven. The disappearance of a classmate on the last day of school causes the group of boys to investigate his disappearance on their own.
Okay, the one thing that exasperated me about this book was the slow build-up of the story. The suspense killed me, I couldn't put down the book because I had to know what happened next. In the first half of the book, there are only glimpses of the evil in the town the boys encounter (things flying in the trees, a cold wind that smells of death, big holes in the dirt that smell bad, the big red roadkill truck that shadows them, etc). I felt like I was being teased with all these glimpses into what the evil is, but not enough to tell me the whole story, which made me keep reading. So while the slow pace may be frustrating, it was in a good way in that the tension and gradual build-up of suspense was very effective in keeping with the mood of the story. Hence, what I meant about the one complaint I had actually being good (so I suppose it really isn't a complaint? LOL).
I felt Simmons was very effective in creating a foreboding and dark mood with his very detailed descriptions of the scenery, he really set the scene so I could feel the apprehension, nervousness, and fear of the characters. At one point when I was reading at night, I got nervous and scared too and it's been a while since a horror novel could do that to me!
Some might be put off by the details he puts into his descriptions of the scenery, but I think it only helped me picture Elm Haven and the characters much more clearly in my mind so I thought it was a good thing.
Anyways, I thought this was a great horror novel and if you're looking for a good scary read I'd recommend you try it.
Summary: Was Better the First Time Around...
Comment: By that I mean I read it when it originally came out. I've been re-reading some of my faves from the past and this was one of the best. I guess with time things change. I just couldn't stick with it. Much too much descriptiveness as in: Joe Schmoe, who had blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a Lucky Charms tee shirt with faded jeans and beat up old green tie dyed Keds, pedaled his blue bike with the rusted chain and Smurf stickers, at break neck speeds, over Elm Street and through the park over to the old drainage ditch, down Route 66, past Mrs. Miller's house, waved to Mr. Blue, skinned his knee on Maple Street, avoided the abandoned factory on Main Street etc., etc. I found myself wishing I had a photo of every character and a GPS system. Pages and pages go by with really nothing happening. Too confusing and quite annoying. I kept flipping back to see if I missed something and it really started to become a chore for me to read. I ended up abandoning the book after about 200 pages.
Summary: Better than IT
Comment: SUMMER OF NIGHT is Dan Simmons's take on one of modern horror and dark fantasy's favorite themes: the coming-of-age story in which a band of 11- to 13-year-olds confronts some form of evil. This theme can be found in many modern dark masters' work, starting with Ray Bradbury's classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and continued on with more recent works such as Robert McCammon's BOY'S LIFE, and two famous stories by Stephen King: the novella "The Body" (made into the film STAND BY ME) and the ponderous novel IT. The coming-of-age theme also serves as the basis for dozens of lesser-known modern horror stories and novels, too many to list here. The theme, when well-played, often produces an author's most emotional and lyrical work, because the author is clearly looking back to his or her own childhood for inspiration.
In Simmons's case, he pulls it off with an absolutely deft mastery of language, story, setting, and, in particular, character. The story is set in a small Illinois town in the summer of 1960. Something bad is happening in the town, including the disappearance of a child. The problems seem to be linked to the recently closed Old Central School. A band of boys (with occasional help by an outcast girl) begins looking into the matter, and the tension and horror build from there.
To compare this novel to IT, perhaps the best-known modern coming-of-age horror story: SUMMER OF NIGHT clocks in at a relatively svelte 600 pages in paperback form. Simmons does a great job of escalating the tension and terror every time you think the story might be getting bogged down. Thus SUMMER reads like a book half its length. It's tough to put down. It's also one of those books that you're sad to finish, and to me that's a sign of a great story well-told.
Stephen King's IT, on the other hand, is a bloated, self-indulgent 1100+ pages - nearly twice the length of SUMMER; had IT been trimmed down to about 500-600 pages, the novel would've been a taught, lean thriller like SUMMER. While it's not totally a bad book, in my view IT is a textbook case of a novel that is just too large for the story it tells. I have no problem with length in and of itself, but the length of a book has to be commensurate with the story contained therein. Some stories, like King's THE STAND, need 1000-plus pages to play out; I just don't think IT is a tale that warrants such mass. (Unfortunately, it seems that once an author reaches a certain level of success, his/her editors stop doing their jobs as ruthlessly as they should - for evidence, see lots of King books, plus several of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, too. Early King books, which many believe are still his best - such as CARRIE, SALEM'S LOT, & PET SEMATARY - tend to be about half the size of his later books.)
Lastly, to compare SUMMER OF NIGHT to another well-known (though slightly less so) novel in the same vein, McCammon's BOY'S LIFE: I'd rate BOY'S LIFE a little bit superior book in the strictly literary sense (though not by much.) However, BOY'S LIFE is really less a `horror' story than a fantasy or magic realism tale with some dark undertones mixed in. Simmons's SUMMER OF NIGHT is without doubt a work of horror in the true sense of the word.
Though I'll admit that the ending of the story was a bit too over-the-top (it reminded me of one of those recent movies where overreliance on CGI effects makes a futile attempt to replace good characterization and storytelling), I thought that the rest of the book was solid enough, with more subtle & believable horrors in the first two-thirds, to overcome that defficiency; besides, overblown, unbelievable endings are a pitfall that nearly every modern horror novelist falls into from time to time.
If you're at all into this genre and haven't read SUMMER OF NIGHT, do yourself a favor and get a copy.
Summary: Skinny little book holds 600 pages of horror
Comment: I know many will call it blasphemy, but this book put Simmons ahead of King in my mental list of great horror authors. "Summer of Night" is closest in story to "It" only without the haphazard ending (and 400 pages shorter). When you pick this book up at the store, you will notice that it is a thin book, and make the same assumption that I did, which was that I was about to read a 200-300 page story. About 100 pages in, it dawned on me that there was still a long way to go, flipping to the back I discovered that the "light read" I had picked out was actually 600 pages exactly, written on what appears to be rice paper it is so thin, and every page is about to crawl over the margins (if you can call typing to the end of the paper a margin). There is no wasted space in this book either; chapters begin on the same page as the last chapter ended, with only a few returns in between and a chapter heading. Prepare yourself for a lot of reading... now the good news... every page is wonderful.
I compare this book to "It" in the sense that it is about a group of young children, most of which are 10-11 but there is a younger brother at the age of 8. These boys (and girl when she shows up) are the only ones who know that something is terribly wrong in their little home town. The setting is a very rural small town surrounded by cornfields... it takes place in 1960. The boys are all instantly likeable and are very real. I listen to the descriptions of Lawrence, the little brother, and he is my youngest son to a "T." Each of the boys is different, has different living situations, and none of them are some sort of magical superman who wrestles monsters with superhuman ability.
The tale is patient and brooding, slowly building to a terrifying crescendo; starting with the disappearance of a child on the last day of school, followed by sounds under the beds, faces peering in windows, and growing with ferocity from there. As you read your stomach will churn and your heart will race as you pray for the survival of the children. How can they stand against these dark forces? I read all 600 pages in 2 nights, hating to give it up on the first night, but work forced me to have to sleep. Odds are that you will want to read all 600 pages in one sitting, it's that hard to put down... you will find yourself worried about those little boys all day until you are able to finish the book. I highly recommend it for anyone who was afraid of the basement, the creatures under the bed, walking through cemeteries, the bathrooms in the basement of dark and ancient buildings, or of the faces in your windows at night.