Monday, May 20, 2024

[Review] — "CHASING ENDLESS SUMMER" is a Forgetful Fluff Sequel

Once upon a time, when you heard the name V.C. Andrews, we all thought of gothic thrillers. Now I'm asking, does the cover art for Chasing Endless Summer cry "gothic thriller?" It doesn't; if anything, it cries out young adult romance. While the cover isn't horrible, I still miss the old stepback covers. 

Enough of me rambling; let's get on with my thoughts on Chasing Endless Summer (*Paperback is available to buy on Amazon.), the sequel to last year's Losing Spring, which I reviewed in February. (Read the review here.) It's written again by Andrew Neiderman, the ghostwriter who took over V.C. Andrews' legacy after her death in December 1986. Neiderman was a decent horror author on his right in the '80s and '90s, and he did a decent job, in the beginning, creating new V.C. Andrews-like Gothic romance tales. Still, his writing has become sloppy in the last decade or so, lacking a Gothic vibe in his storytelling. Losing Spring was a godawful mess, and I wasn't looking forward to reading the sequel.

Caroline Bryer returns as the young protagonist. How old is she? Who the heck knows? I don't believe her age even gets mentioned in the sequel. She's a teenager, though she talks like a 40-something. Towards the tail end of Losing Spring, Carolina moved in with her grandparents, the Sutherlands. Her grandmother kicks the bucket in the first line of the prologue: "Grandmother Judith died today, but it should have been yesterday." Her cruel grandfather puts her on a short leash, and her only companion is her cousin Simon. 

The grandfather has a small role in this story; instead of focusing on the Sutherland mansion, Neiderman yanks Caroline away from there and sends her to Hawaii to live with her birth father and his other family. Yep, she has to deal with a stepsister and a stepbrother. And that's the wrap-up of this story, which is left open-ended and will continue in Dreaming of Autumn Skies (*Pre-order the paperback.), due to be published in October. 

Chasing Endless Summer is slightly better than its predecessor, or at least plot-wise, it's an improvement. Caroline's life at the Sutherland mansion should have been an entire novel by itself, but instead, it's condensed into a novella for the first half of the book. The latter half shifts to Hawaii and should have been saved for the second sequel. Who's making the decision here, Andrew Neiderman or the publisher? I'm going with the latter, but that's no excuse for the wooden, cliche dialogue. 

Ever heard the expression, "Show, don't tell?" Neiderman has never heard of it. He uses dialogue to explain everything instead of using detailed descriptions. As a reader, I want to imagine what everything looks like, but that's not the case here, as Neiderman rushes through the story, forgetting to add much-needed details. Chasing Endless Summer is a fluff read, easily forgettable before closing the book. Nice try, Neiderman, but please try harder next time. ╌★★½✰✰

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