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Reviews of Summerland (2002)

Review by clairv (2004-10-13)
The perfect beach book. While Chabon is not quite in J.K. Rowling's league (ha ha, get it, league?) he can spin a good tale with some creative storytelling, and an environmental bent. And baseball is really central to the story which I found to be a lot of fun, even though I'm not a life-long baseball fan. Never achieving the page burning suspense of a Harry Potter tale (or Lemony Snicket, for that matter) it was a good story, with one foot firmly in fantasy and the other in nostalgia.

Review by willll (2003-03-09)
Summerland is an entertaining read, especially for those who enjoy baeball. Chabon paints a vivid interesting fantasy world. However, there are some plot inconsistencies and some unexplained events. Also, there are some events in the story which do not really seem to fit in with the setting created by the story.

Review by tsackett (2003-03-07)
Summerland gives us Michael Chabon at both his best and his worst. You can't help being entertained, even awed, by his prose. His sentences sometimes read like poems, both in their use of language and in the images the evoke. The imaginitive events and landscapes of Summerland give him free rein to exercise his talents as a stylist.

Chabon trusts his juvenile audience to handle some pretty challenging themes. His villian, the trickster Coyote, wants to destroy the world. As the kids set out to stop him, they learn that many of the good things in the world, from free will to baseball, are products of his earlier meddling. Coyote emerges as more of a force of chaos, of creation and destruction, than as a source of evil. Many of the fantastic characters that the children befriend during on their journey aren't really sure that they disagree with Coyote's current plans. And yet, even in the face of this moral ambiguity, the kids know what they have to do.

However, the fantasy setting gave Chabon too much room to be lazy with the plot. Sketchy characters, odd bits of magic, and newly-discovered strengths appear whenever the story needs a push. Ultimately, Summerland takes on a kind of thinness, a draining of substance much like that experienced by one of the characters.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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