The synopsis of this book on Netgalley pulled me in. Talk of a small clique of misfit teens, a rescue dog and a road trip sounded like a nice light read that would be perfect for the beginning of warmer weather. Coupled with the sentence “there will be wild animals, and hot guys, and adventures and lies and heartbreaks”, I thought I’d got myself an awesome new YA in a similar vein to Paper Towns. When I discovered that it was a sequel, I bought the first book Beau, Lee, The Bomb and Me on my Kindle and read it, in order to be able to review it properly. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book and I was nervous for Rusty Summer as a result.
Rusty Winters is an overweight roller derby girl with a keen wit. Her best friends are Beau, an awkward and endearing gay boy and Leonie, a beautiful aspiring model. In the first book on their first road trip, they rescued an old husky dog who they name The Bomb. Together, they embark on another road trip, this time to Alaska to find Rusty’s father who left when she was young. Through the many dramas that befall them, they eventually arrive at their destination where Rusty discovers secrets about her father that hadn’t even crossed her mind.
Anyone who has read my book reviews before may have noticed that the previous paragraph should have been an in-depth analysis of the plot. However, with Rusty Summer, I struggled to do that. In all honesty, not an awful lot happened. Road trip books have never really interested me all that much unless something else in the synopsis jumps out at me but this isn’t the book to read if you want to get into them.
I also have mixed feelings about Rusty as a protagonist. At some points, I really liked her sass and maturity. She really carries her friendship group and comes across as the mother hen who is grown up enough to traverse the length and breadth of America without a moment’s thought. However, at other times, I wanted to slap all the silly slang words out of her mouth. This was a problem I had with the first book too. It’s packed full of irritating slang that I’m not sure is authentic to modern day teens -“whatevs” anyone? Beau is my favourite character and I was really rooting for his romance. I didn’t like Leonie but I actually thought she was one of the most realistic characters. I went to school with a lot of girls like her who were all just as irritating as she was.
The romance element of Rusty Summer was the most annoying part for me. Shane is described in such a way that I melted. In my mind, he was this beautiful, interesting god-like guy and Rusty’s reaction to him confirmed this. The finale of this thread actually made me snort with laughter. It was so unrealistic, I couldn’t help but giggle. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more due to huge spoilers but I would actually say that it might be worth trawling through 80% of silly drivel for that moment.
This is actually the first time I’ve written a largely negative review of a book and I feel pretty bad about it. However, I’ve always vowed to be honest and it’s important to any readers who might be considering picking it up. If you liked Beau, Lee, The Bomb and Me then you might enjoy Rusty Summer. However, don’t pick it up expecting another Paper Towns-esque novel like I did.