Buddy Reads & Rants: Until Summer Comes Around (Jonny Pongratz and Iseult Murphy)
Hello Blogging World!
Iseult: Hello all, Iseult here. I love to read and write horror, fantasy and science fiction, and rant about it afterwards. There’s no one better to rant with about books (or anything at all, to be honest), than my bestie, Jonny. He’s also a wonderful writer, so BUY HIS BOOKS!
Jonny: Aw shucks, you’re too kind! I love our buddy reads too. I’m not the only author in the room. Iseult’s got a slew of deliciously scary tales of her own right here and just came out with a sequel that I’m dying to read soon!
This buddy read and rant is for Until Summer Comes Around by Glenn Rolfe.
When fifteen year old Rocky Zukas meets a mysterious dark-haired girl named November, his world is forever changed. The young couple falls under the spell of summer love, but not everyone approves. November’s brother, Gabriel, is the keeper of the family’s secret, and big brother is always watching, growing more sinister as his bloodlust gets the best of him. Directing his attention to Rocky’s family, Gabriel aims to make sure little sister knows who is in charge.
Buddy Read Book Rant:
Iseult: So tell me what you thought of the vampires in this book. I loved the idea that they were like an animal, but I wished there had been more information about how they worked. Were they mutant humans like x-men or a predator masquerading as prey, like the creatures in the movie Mimic?
Jonny: I think that overall the vampire concept worked, but I agree with you. It wasn’t fully fleshed out like it could have been.
Where did these vampires truly originate from? What’s the story there? A deal with the devil centuries ago? We never really got an answer there and if the story is largely about vampires, people are gonna want that.
Iseult: Yes, I agree.
What did you think of Gabriel? I liked lots about his character, and I thought him adopting elements of the vampire myth, like sleeping in a coffin, was really interesting. However, I was ultimately disappointed in him. He seemed more like a serial killer to me. I know he could fly, but his vampiric qualities didn’t seem to influence his kills. He often murdered people without drinking from them, which seemed wasteful.
Jonny: It’s funny, I came to the same overall conclusion about him. At first he was my favorite character because the MC felt a bit dull starting out. But as things progressed I was also disappointed.
The blood did seem to make him stronger at first, but he didnt really have the brains behind it all in the end.
Despite that, I did enjoy some of his kill scenes. I could easily see it as a movie.
Iseult: It was very cinematic, I could see it as a movie too.
The 1980s are huge at the moment, and I could see and hear this book being transferred to the screen in all that era’s glory.
How did the time period work for you? I loved it at the beginning of the book, but I got disenchanted as I read on. There seemed to be a lot of name dropping of pop culture that took me out of the story.
Jonny: Yeah, totally! I can see why many would like this book in the way it is written to read like a film.
Oh, I’ve always been a huge fan of the 80s (it’s my favorite decade actually), and while overall the era did work, I have to admit I got a little irked by the overused references.
I understand that the author wanted to prove that he knew his stuff with the 80s, but it was too much. At a certain point the writing has to take precedence, and the references took away from that.
Iseult: Exactly. It was unnecessary as well. The freedom of the kids and the way they spent their time set the scene perfectly. I didn’t wonder why they weren’t taking selfies or texting each other once.
Romance was big part of this novel. What did you think of Rocky and November’s summer loving?
Jonny: Oh, for sure! The latchkey kid mentality was definitely there and it spoke for itself. *sighs dreamily* Do you remember those days when you could just ride your bike for hours and your parents had no idea where you were? Ah nostalgia, my one true kryptonite!
You know, I actually thought the romance was one of the stronger elements of the book. I don’t like it when it overshadows the plot of a novel, and I felt that there was a balance. Did the MC obsess and whine about it a lot? Yes, but he’s the right age to be acting that way and I found it pretty believable.
Was it a bit predictable for a romance? Eh, maybe, but I still had fun going through their summer love journey.
Iseult: Haha! Sounds nice. Wish I’d been well enough to enjoy that sort of freedom as a kid.
I think Rocky and November’s relationship was pretty realistic. Can’t say I liked Rocky’s whining, but that’s what teens are like, and young love is very intense. Lots of rollercoaster of emotions.
Unfortunately, I kept wondering about November’s vampirism and how that would influence her attraction to Rocky. I know I should have just gone with it, but it was a hurdle for me. At least she wasn’t a reanimated corpse vamp or a hundred year old pretending to be a teen, because both of those always bother me when it comes to the subject of appropriate romantic partners.
Jonny: Yeah, the early 90s were a golden time for me filled with adventure. I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience that, but in all honesty it was probably a lot safer that way. I got into plenty of trouble once I got back home after being gone for too long way too many times.
I agree. I wasn’t blown away by the romance but given the other alternatives when it comes to vampires and dating I think this was the right move for the author.
I have to say after speaking with you on this I may have overrated this book a smidgen. I kept vacillating between a 3.5 and 4 and simply couldn’t make up my mind.
This book was entertaining, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine for the year considering other stellar literary knockouts.
Iseult: That’s true! Every cloud, eh? Thanks, Jonny.
Yeah, this book didn’t work for me. Rolfe writes well and there is certainly a lot to like about the setting and characters, but I wish there was a little more to it. I also found the ending very underwhelming. I was hoping for more. I think because there was so much going for it that I was so disappointed when it didn’t have that extra oomph. Perhaps if I’d had a more similar childhood to Rocky, my nostalgia would have distracted from the desire to have more world building on the vampires.
Jonny: Very welcome friend!
I’m sorry this book didn’t quite hit the mark for you, although I think you’re onto something about the nostalgia factor and its effect on the reader. Very intriguing.
Thanks again for reading with me. I can’t wait to read our next book together!
That’s A Wrap!
Thanks for joining us on our buddy read and rant of Until Summer Comes Around! We had a lot of fun, and hope you did too! We will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, why not check out Iseult and Jonny’s other fun buddy reads?
Buddy Read & Rant: The Upheaval
Buddy Read & Rant: Thornhill
Buddy Read & Rant: Shutter
Buddy Read & Rant: Small Spaces
Buddy Read & Rant: Dead Voices
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Loved reading and ranting with you, bestie 😊
You as well friend!