Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes

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Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Story of a Japanese boy looking to revenge his friends. Beautifully-written and easy to read, it's a shocking, violent and bleak story, unlike anything else on the teen shelves. Recommended - but perhaps not for the faint-hearted!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 1780875525

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Yukio lives with his grandmother in Tokyo. He enjoys school, practising kenzo, and hanging out with his two best friends, twins Hiroshi and Miko. They do everything together - swimming, shopping, eating, even visiting nuns. But then the yakuza - the Japanese mafia - come into their lives. And Hiroshi and Miko are dead - blackmailed and tormented, they take their own lives. Filled with grief, Yukio vows revenge...

Wow. I don't think I've read a teen book quite like this one for a very long time, if ever. Expect a conclusion with loose ends tied up, but don't expect all those loose end knots to be happy ones. At the start of the book, Yukio is shown as a likeable boy, bright, kind, respectful and with a real talent for kenzo. He's just beginning to realise that he's falling in love with one of his best and oldest friends and you'll be looking forward to seeing how his first relationship will turn out. But while he's away for a few days, everything turns upside down. The twins are in such a crisis that they can see no way out but suicide. And this terrible event sets the grief-stricken Yukio on a catastrophic path. As he descends further and further into revenge and anger, you realise that something is very wrong indeed - even over and above his acts of violence.

You see everything from inside Yukio's head - and, as it becomes more and more clear that he's an unreliable narrator, the picture painted of Tokyo life and the workings of the Yakuza becomes more and vague and two-dimensional. But readers will gain a great deal of insight into lifestyle, culture and social attitudes in Japan in the first part of the book. It's a very different country from the UK and Hughes shows us with wonderful detail exactly what it's like to be a teenager in Tokyo.

The end is shocking and powerful, but sadly inevitable. Summertime of the Dead is another original book from Gregory Hughes. He's clearly an author to look out for if you dislike predictable stories. This one comes recommended for everyone who likes strong narrative and something a bit different - but perhaps it's not the best choice for the faint of heart!

There isn't really anything else like Summertime of the Dead around! But there's a vigilante theme in both iBoy by Kevin Brooks and You Against Me by Jenny Downham and they are both excellent books.

Buy Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes at

Buy Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes at


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