*This is a review of the entire Summer trilogy. It contains no spoilers for any of the novels.
I didn’t hold any high expectations when I started reading this trilogy. Yet I was still disappointed by these books.
They were incredibly predictable. Predictability isn’t always bad. I knew the entire plot to When in Rome before I saw it and still enjoyed it. Sometimes I watch or read movies and books for their predictability. However, the Summer trilogy lacked charm, which is my key component to enjoying predictable things. I have to at least find it charming.
The Summer trilogy is not charming. I found it incredibly shallow. The story is very simple. The writing suffers from too many similes and metaphors. I counted three on one page alone. I had a hard time understanding some of her sentences too. I’ve had this problem with authors before though so it might be me, not Han, who has the problem. But it does make it hard to get into a story when you’re constantly wondering what’s going on because you can’t understand the author’s sentence construction.
Everything about the story feels underdeveloped. Take the title of the first novel: The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly seems to never have been not pretty, she was just always considered one of the boys, but this summer, all of a sudden, she’s getting a ton of male attention for no apparent reason, and she has to choose which brother she wants to date… because of reasons? There just wasn’t ever enough to make me really care. There are problems and conflicts in the story, but I only know that ‘cause Jenny Han told me so.
My last complaint isn’t really a complaint. More of an observation I guess. I wanted more Asian characters in the story. Han is Asian yet all her main characters are white. I knew that coming in. However, she does include Asian characters in her story (approximately one per book). Asians are the only characters of color (that I can recall, please correct me if I’m wrong) that she includes. I found it strange that she included Asian characters but kept them on the periphery of the story. They have small supporting roles that don’t really amount to anything other than foils or tertiary characters. Han is free to do as she likes, but I wish that she wrote books with PoC as the main characters. There are so few YA novels that feature characters of color. If PoC aren’t even willing to write characters of color, who will?