Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Title: Invincible Summer
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 269
Release date: April 19th 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought at The Book Depository
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....

First sentence:
Gideon keeps falling down.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Oh, how I've been dreading writing this review... Some aspects of Invincible Summer are amazing, and others, while I know they're well-done, just didn't work for me. Really, I think any star rating would be justified.

One thing I do know is that the cover and synopsis are very misleading. The cover makes this seem like a fun, guilty-pleasure, feel-good, beach-read kind of book, which is not the case at all - Invincible Summer deals with lots of serious topics. Even though I hate writing summaries, I'm going to write my own for Invincible Summer - I don't think you'd get what I'm talking about from just the official description.

Invincible Summer deals with four summers of Chase's life, the summer he turns 14 to the summer he turns 18. Each year he goes to the same beach with his family, consisting of his pregnant mom and his dad, who are struggling with their marriage; Noah, his older brother, who's always running away from the family's problems; Claudia, the younger sister just turning into a teenager; and Gideon, the youngest of the kids, who is deaf. Chase's family always goes to the beach at the same time as another family, consisting of the parents; Bella, who has a crush on Chase; her twin brother, Shannon, who's friends with Chase and has a crush on Claudia; and Melinda. Melinda is kind of hard to explain. Both Chase and Noah have sex with her, and she has some issues of her own but that aren't really addressed until the end. I think that covers it, but I might have missed something - there are a lot of story lines, and, well, I suck at summarizing.

Anyways, for my actual review, I'll start with the good stuff, which is mainly the writing. Hannah Moskowitz's style is minimalistic and sparse, but it's beautiful and amazing, just so... poetic, I guess you could say. That helped convey raw, honest emotions. I also love how all the storylines fit together, making sure there's something in there everyone will like.

I loved the characters in Invincible Summer. Chase is a good narrator and easy to relate to, most of the time. The rest of the characters are fully-developed and complex. Gideon is probably my favorite character - he's adorable. While I didn't particularly like Noah, his way of dealing with things is interesting to read about. I didn't get Melinda's character at first, but later on, when we got to know about her past, I felt like I understood her better and got why she acted so strangely. I love how multi-dimensional the characters are, all with problems of their own that somehow work together. The only character I felt like I never really got to know is Bella - it seemed like she's just kind of there, but the reader never found out too much about her, which I thought was kind of strange.

Some of the reationships, though, just seemed weird to me. The fact that Shannon, who's 15 at the beginning of the book, has a crush Claudia, who's 11 at the beginning, kind of creeped me out. Four years might not be that big of an age difference for adults, but for 15- and 11-year-olds, it's huge. Chase's need for Noah felt a little overdone - I don't think the way that Chase misses Noah when he'd only been gone for a few hours is realistic.

Even though I enjoyed Hannah Moskowitz's sparse style, I would have liked to see some aspects to be elaborated on, for example the relationship between the parents. I don't think the reader got to know enough about how difficult their relationship is before the divorce to understand their reasons - at times it seems like everything's fine, and at other's Chase tells us they're always fighting. One of the parents says that they'd been trying and failing to make it work for 18 years, and that's why they're getting a divorce now. What I'm asking myself is, why did they keep having kids if they thought their relationship wasn't going to work? I mean, if you're fighting all the time and know you're going to break up, why have seven kids? That's only one little thing, but it's something I just thought was kind of strange.

One storyline that didn't work for me at all is the love triangle. Chase and Noah know Melinda is sleeping with both of them (they talk about it with each other, and Melinda complains to both of them that the other one is better in bed), but for some reason, they don't mind. I just don't get how you can not care that your brother's sleeping with the same girl you're sleeping with, and that whole love triange just felt wrong to me. Melinda's 20 or 21, I think, when she sleeps with 15-year-old Chase for the first time, which seems wrong, too. Later on, once the reader finds out what happened to Melinda, I guess you could kind of understand why she would do that, but it still felt weird - I got Melinda's motivations, but I just can't wrap my head around the fact that Chase and Noah don't mind sharing Melinda.

Another aspect I didn't get are the Camus quotes. I guess you could say they're beautiful and deep and meaningful and whatnot, but for me, those parts were kind of boring. I just don't think it's realistic for teenagers to be quoting Camus all the time. Then again, I know Hannah Moskowitz wrote this book in her junior and senior year of high school, at which time she was obsessed with Camus, so I can't really say it's not realistic... but I can say those parts didn't interest me all that much and didn't have the impact they were supposed to have.

The last summer is, by far, my favorite part of this novel. Noah's grief is portrayed so well, and his feelings are raw and heart-breaking. I bawled while reading that part. I'm not sure whether I cried because of the actual book or because it reminded me of some other stuff I've been going through, but either way, it's always good if a book makes you feel something. It actually had me thinking I probably would have liked the book better if it had focused more on the last part and the grief aspect and less on some of the other storylines, like the divorce and the love triangle.

Invincible Summer was a conflicting read for me. The writing, the characters and the emotions portrayed are amazing, and I love the portrayal of family in this novel, as well as the tragedy towards the end. But some story lines are just kind of weird. Despite these problems, I decided to give this book a 4-star-rating becuase, even though some things didn't work for me personally, I know they're actually good and will hopefully work for others. One thing you should know though, is that Invincible Summer is nothing like the cover makes it out to be.


  1. Very thorough review - well done. I've been having a hard time thinking of how I'm going to review this book - I rated it 4 stars, too, and had many issues that you did with the book.

  2. Great review. I actually have this sitting next to my bed. I feel like I should read it before Labor Day...

  3. Interesting review. I met Hannah once and I've been wanting to read this book.

  4. I really don't read enough YA, at least not contemporary YA, and this one sounds quite promising. Comprehensive review, too. Nice.


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