Now that Lori’s turning sixteen, she doesn’t want to be seen as just one of the boys any more. Her summers have been marked by days spent wakeboarding on the lake with the boys next door, Sean and Adam. For as long as she can remember, Lori’s had a crush on Sean, who has always sort of ignored her. Determined to win his attention and affection, Lori ends up recruiting Sean’s little brother Adam to help make Sean jealous. As Lori and Adam dive into their fauxmance, they start to realize that they might have actual feelings for each other.
Endless Summer is actually a bind-up of Echols’s two novels about Lori and Adam: The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer. I briefly considered splitting the books into two reviews, but when I got a look at the original covers I almost died, so great was my distaste for them. So instead, we’ll go with the bind-up and cover both books at once. It’s win-win, you guys. I seriously can’t look at that other cover.
There are some good things present in this not-quite-anthology. Echols writes about summer in a way that feels authentic: when you’re sixteen, summer feels almost limitless, the days stretching out and melting into one another, full of potential for all sorts of exciting things. She’s also a sharp, funny writer, and she succeeds in capturing the voice of Lori especially well. This pertains mostly to the first book, as Echols chose to alternate narration in the second novel between Lori and Adam, which was distracting and unnecessary. However, Echols is funny, and there were several times when I laughed out loud.
The other really great thing about this tome is that the chemistry between Lori and Adam almost crackles off the page, especially over the course of the first novel. Too often in novels, the love interests have little to no chemistry and it becomes difficult to buy the love story. This is not the case here, where the two leads have a genuine chemistry that’s enjoyable to read. There were moments where the connection between Lori and Adam was the only thing that kept me reading.
Which brings me to the things that I struggled with in the two novels. I never for one second understood Lori’s ridiculous obsession with Sean, and it made it difficult for me to care about her intended outcome or her supposed dilemma about the two brothers. Sean had a nasty personality that worsened with time instead of getting better. Sometimes he seemed almost sociopathic, and yet there were very little repercussions to his actions. It didn’t make for a very compelling love triangle.
The other problem was that the second novel felt tiresome 20 pages in. Echols wrote the sequel due to fan demand, and it felt as though the story itself was half-baked. Lori and Adam’s story fit perfectly into the first book, and prolonging the drama and uncertainty in another book full of predictable, trite hijincks was not only ill-advised but also kind of boring. I was really disappointed by the second book, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it sort of spoiled the first one for me.
That being said, this book has fans. Echols has a strong following, and fans of her other works might enjoy this light-hearted summer romp.
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols. Simon Pulse: 2010. Library copy.