Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
As I mentioned a few times before, I have read Gwen Cole’s stuff before – but you’re like, isn’t this her debut published novel? Why, yes, but back in my other life as an online YA writer, I stumbled upon her stuff on inkpop and Wattpad. And I was solddddddddd. I knew immediately I would have to grab this book and fangirl over it.
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.
Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.
When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.
But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.
To tell the truth, I didn’t quite fangirl over this as much as I first thought. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it immensely, and I will still totally pick up anything by Cole, but I did have two major problems that left me a mess of a confusion. Let’s talk about the good stuff first, though?
Okay, the premise was amazing. I loved how Cole intertwined the two plots together. There was a lot going on, but Cole managed the time travel and regular day life wonderfully and masterfully. I loved going back and forth between the two time periods, and she kept it realistic in many ways.
I also really enjoyed the characters. Kale and Harper were wonderfully done, and I enjoyed both of them as narrators. They both had really great characterization, and I very realistic dealing with what they did. The side characters were great as well. I loved Harper’s uncle, and even Kale’s dad and brother provided interesting development to the story.
The romance was also pretty cute and swoony. I do love a good old-neighbors-or-former-best-friends-reuniting-and-turning-into-lovers trope. Goodness, it’s a mouth-full, but it’s a trope that brings on some major feels. Cole definitely did well with that, and I just wanted to smish these two together and feel the swoons.
The first big issue I had with the book was the length of chapters. They were short. And I mean, really short. Like, just a few pages each. I do love me some short chapters, but with each chapter ending, usually it switched narration. To me, it felt like right when I was getting invested into something that was happening with Kale, oop, we’ve now switched over to Harper. Or vice versa. It felt like everything was switching too fast for me to get invested in anything big that was happening. It started to mellow out by half of the book or so, but for the beginning half, it was a bit too abrupt for me.
The other issue was sometimes Kale and Harper just felt a little off sometimes? Like, they didn’t necessarily feel right for their age they were supposed to be. Like, their characterization was maybe a few years older than what they were supposed to be physically and it made them a tiny bit cheesy sometimes? But it wasn’t a lot, and it only bugged me a tiny bit sometimes.
Overall, these was a good read. I did enjoy it for the most part, although the two things that I mentioned did throw me off a bit. I enjoyed the story, plot, romance, and characters (for the most part), and I definitely think it has a set a standard for good time travel novels. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Cole’s work for sure. Four crowns, and an Ariel rating!
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