El's Reviews > Summerland

Summerland by Michael Chabon
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's review
Jan 09, 08

bookshelves: 21st-centurylit, fantasy, young-adult-n-kids, yinzers-n-at
Read in January, 2008

Ethan Feld is a regular kid who is not very good at baseball. He's going through some things that a lot of kids go through, except for the fact that he's chosen to save Clam Island on which he lives. He makes some friends, all of whom are imperative in his adventures to defeat Coyote, the essence of all Evil.

Chabon had a relatively decent idea, bringing in a lot of Native American folklore and mythology, religion, fantasy, etc. But the fantasy he chose to create was ultimately flat. Clam Island was flat, Ethan Feld was flat, the age-old battle of Good vs Evil was flat. This was not the prose of the same man who wrote Mysteries of Pittsburgh and especially not the same man who wrote Kavalier & Clay. This was someone new, someone who thought it must be incredibly easy to write a young adult fantasty novel (you just make some stuff up, right?), someone who had not fleshed out his character and his environment. At several points I had to wonder if some of the things I was reading had even been brought up before - if so, it left no impression the first time; if not, then there is no consistency. It felt jilted, like he was winging it the entire time.

I was not lost on the overall message: Stop and smell the flowers, appreciate what you have but don't forget where you came from, yada yada. I appreciate Chabon's effort but it didn't need to be what it was. Perhaps fantasy is not his forte, perhaps young adult writing is not his bag. He could have put more of his soul into this book for the soul is what carries so many of his others. It's like sometimes he forgets who he is.

Additional note: There were so many typos I wanted to write directly in the book. And I just do not do that.

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