Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.
The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.
Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.
“Why couldn’t people’s insides match their outsides? The world would be such a wonderful place if the nicer someone was, the more beautiful they became.”
Jay Bell’s ‘Seasons’ series is fantastic! That said, the series overall is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Had I written this review immediately after reading the first book, it would have scored a little lower. I struggled to grasp some on the principles that drove the decisions and actions of two of the main characters. Jay Bell’s master achievement in ‘Seasons’ is finding a balance between developing the characters just enough to make the story work at each stage without affecting each successive book.
Something Like Summer (#1), Something Like Winter (#2) and Something Like Autumn (#3) all tell the individual stories of the trio, including the intersecting points of the overall story. Each book is told from the view-point of each of the three main characters in the original love triangle – Ben, Tim and Jace respectively. Where there is crossover (which happens frequently), it is narrated from the perspective of that books lead. Jay Bell achieved something wonderful here; this has been achieved without ruining any part of the story line as what occurs is the same, though ‘seen’ through different eyes. The development of the characters is an interesting factor for consideration – each instalment instills an understanding of what makes each member of the trio who they are; how they think and approach key plot points. Learning about the aspects of the lives of other characters outside the perspective of the first book actually strengthened my appreciation of each book individually as well as overall. There is a fourth book in the series (Something Like Spring), though this is a new story from the perspective of a fresh character.
Something Like Summer was my very first venture into m/m romance and young adult fiction. Historically, my choice of reading material was always limited to ‘mainstream’ fantasy or science fiction – quite removed from a contemporary romance about the lives of homosexual young adults. Something Like Summer was a recommendation from a friend, one I almost ignored but am immensely glad I didn’t.
Beginning with an exploration of young gay love with heaps of self realisation, anguish, development and growth. Summer tells the story of Benjamin Bentley, a strong-willed, openly gay teen who exposes his heart freely and unquestionably. Tim Wyman bursts into Ben’s life one Summer holiday, bringing with him excitement, hope and a boat load of new experiences. As with most young love stories, there is heartache and pain aplenty with plot points that, whilst expected, are well written and leave you recalling (and for me, recoiling from) your own teen drama. Frustration, anguish and residual pain are the result of a lingering love from a relationship that didn’t burn out, but came to an abrupt end.
Spread over a dozen years, the story of Something Like Summer explores the naivety of a self-assured teenager and personal growth of the man. Benjamin Bentley moves on with his life, we follow his move to university and burgeoning relationship with Jace Holden; a character whom I can honestly say is one of my favourite fictional people of all time. The ‘Seasons’ series of books focus character development over a long period of time in a much more realistic fashion than other stories of a similar nature, at least in my experience of life. Ben has grown a lot since his relationship with Tim, but his qualities and nature remain fundamentally the same. Jace supports Ben through study, life and love whilst showing a strength of character that is almost superhuman – this appears to be one of the weaker points I referenced earlier, though once you read books 2 and 3 you will fully appreciate the characteristics of Jace and understand his motivations and how he makes the choices he does.
The story flourishes upon the return of Tim Wyman, a now openly gay and [somewhat] eccentric third to complete a love triangle that is as important as any of the individual characters. This is where I will stop referencing plot points for fear of spoilers, though I will say that the story takes a couple of unexpected turns along the way (well, in terms of the finer nuances rather than the direction of the story overall).
Something like Summer is an exceptional start to the first three books of the series, building many of the foundations in a solid manner. My view of the characters changed somewhat as the character backgrounds developed throughout the series; not that the characters were weak in the first book, just that to ignore Winter (#2) and Autumn (#3) in this review and from this perspective would in itself weaken the review of Summer. I reflected on the characters and my opinion of them afterwards, only to realise that, whilst I have stated that my appreciation of them grew with each successive book, they are great in Summer.
I loved Something Like Summer, it is one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had. Interestingly, this is the first book (or any form of entertainment) that actually made me cry. That in itself speaks volumes about the strength of the characters and the world that Jay Bell has created. It’s not all sadness and pain, there is an excellent balance of humour, drama and happiness that reflects relationships in real life.