Hey guys! I'm here today as part of the A Malmont Summer Blog Tour and today I have my review of the first book in what looks to be quite a promising series!
Author: Joshua J Johnson
Publication Date: 2015
Source: Digital ARC from Author
Purchase: Amazon Kindle
Set in Santa Monica, A MALMONT SUMMER follows four girls who attend St. Malmont—a boarding school for the teenagers of the extremely rich, located between golden sands and sparkling waters, raving nightclubs and fast cars—as they go about enjoying their summer.
But when a difference in views arises between Heidi and Danielle, their typical summer they had been expecting is turned upside down—almost literally, as they end up flitting to the other side of the globe to Australia, where their summer truly kicks off.
With their two other friends, Lottie and Hannah, the four girls make a plan to follow two very different bucket lists, based on two very different sets of opinions, in order to be able to settle their argument once and for all.
Along the way, however, their summer becomes much more eventful than they ever anticipated—secrets are revealed, love lives are tangled, and crimes are committed…and that’s just the start.
Because, when you’re the daughters of extremely rich families, the sky is the limit when it comes to proving your points…
I have to openly admit that I had been rooting for Joshua ever since he announced his new YA contemporary novel 'A Malmont Summer.' It sounded like such an interesting concept and it looked to be a combination of elements that I've really enjoyed in some of my favourite books. What I didn't expect out of a YA debut was the level of depth Joshua goes into in terms of discussing social classes and the morals that are usually associated with them. Did I enjoy this book? I really did. It was really stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed it but few books can be without flaws and unfortunately this was not one of them, but enough of the brief overview - what did I think about it?
We'll start with the story because the actual plot of the book was phenomenal. Without recapping the above synopsis too much, it basically focuses on the journey of four girls who attend a boarding school for the extremely rich in the heart of Santa Monica. It centres on their summer vacation time and follows the girls' as sparks fly and an emotional battle ensues, so much so that the consequence finds them jetting off to Australia where the real adventure begins. Our main characters strive to follow two very different bucket lists but when arguments keep reappearing between the girls, their summer becomes a lot more heated than they once would have thought. There is definitely the element of adventure in this book which I really appreciated to read about. We as readers follow the journey of the four girls as they do whatever their hearts desire while on vacation - money is literally no obstacle. It was quite refreshing to read from a point of view where this was the case because the subject of money is never usually brought up and it was very intrinsically explored in this book. Without making a major point of this, as someone who isn't wealthy in the slightest and has fallen on hard times, it was really inspiring and interesting to read how Joshua pictures the upper class to live. As stereotypical as it could be, it wasn't far off of being accurate and this was a definite positive. Speaking of money, Joshua tackles the issues of what having an excess of money can do to people as well as addressing the important stereotype that not everyone with money is morally inept. The novel really addresses the idea of what true morality is and how it effects lives on an everyday scale. It was really impressive for a debut. I cannot say that enough.
However, as I mentioned not everything could be 100% perfect with this novel and there were elements that I found to be disruptive to my enjoyment. Unfortunately for me these are quite prominent things that I look out for in a book so personally I took them quite hard to process and unfortunately it effected my overall enjoyment of the novel. Saying this, opinions vary for different people so please do not be put off by my comments - the novel by itself is fantastic and I think everyone should read it for the thoughtful value it has and the questions it raises. For me however, the writing style and character development was a bit of a let down. In terms of the writing style, I found it to be very varied in different segments of the novel. Joshua has openly admitted to me that in the past his area of expertise has been fantasy writing, and this comes across in A Malmont Summer. Joshua's writing style is so detailed and luscious when it comes to the description of surroundings and people. Even down to the individual pigments of a person's hair. It's glorious. Unfortunately as mentioned, there was variety in relation to some paragraphs which were in my opinion poorly constructed. They just seemed to be a blend of pointless dialogue, beautiful description and then dubiously formed sentences. It was such a shame for me personally because I think there was definitely a large opportunity for this novel to be almost perfect.
In relation to the character development, it wasn't bad per say. There was definitely drastic development in two of the main characters, Heidi and Danielle. As there are four books in this series it's arguable that there will be a primary focus on one girl in each of the books, with it changing each time. Clearly the focus of this book was on Heidi's development, but it could also be argued that the second half of the book was more focused on Danielle. Either way, I am desperate to see where Book 2 takes us because with the events of the ending of Book 1, I have questions that are in desperate need of answering. Joshua you cannot write that book quick enough. I feel however that Lottie and Hannah were slightly lacking in development - I understand why this was done as clearly their focus will be in later books but I thought as an introduction I would have liked to see individual elements that would have made them stand out in this novel too.
Overall this was a very difficult novel to rate because my thorough enjoyment of the plot and the twists at the ending clearly wanted to outweigh the flaws, however as I see these as quite prominent features to focus on I'm afraid they have affected my overall rating of the book. As for my conclusive thoughts, this is an extremely powerful novel that touches on relationships both with friends and romantically, it highlights the importance of being who you are and it understands and comments on the class system and how money can effect morality. I award A Malmont Summer by Joshua J. Johnson a 3 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. A touching and powerful debut to the world of Young Adult literature!
About the Author:You can check out Joshua on Twitter @JoshuaJAuthor , through his blog http://joshuajstories.com or through his Youtube page!
Joshua J. Johnson currently lives in England with a serious case of wanderlust and a wardrobe full of books.
He started writing as soon as he discovered that book didn't randomly appear, and that they were actually written by people. After growing up writing short stories by hand for his brother and his family-- including a weekly family newspaper-- he created a blog where his writing has been captivated, treasured, and enjoyed by thousands of people in nearly eighty countries around the world.