"Jedi Summer" Book Review

Written by Janine Pipe

Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing

jedi summer john boden poster large

Written by John Boden
2021, 98 pages, Fiction
Released on August 30th, 2021


I remember hearing about Jedi Summer by John Boden a while ago when it was included in a Night Worms package and thinking that it sounded pretty cool. So I was thrilled to have been sent a copy by Silver Shamrock Publishing, as it is a wonderful size for reviewing purposes at less than 100 pages.

The cover just evokes the ‘80s also, and one of my favorite coming-of-age tropes – kids on bikes. It oozes nostalgia and simpler times and I am here for it.

Jedi Summer is told in the first person from the point of view of the narrator, John, and is semi-autobiographical, relaying to the reader the adventures he and his younger brother Roscoe had one summer whilst waiting for the movie Return of the Jedi to open at the theatre.

A lot of people will relate to the very realness of growing up dirt poor, with a single parent doing all they can just to keep everyone alive. Boden is very candid about the reality of poverty, and it is relatable to almost anyone who lived through the ‘80s. But of course, this isn’t a story on social factors, it is a coming-of-age with dark elements.

Split into four parts and each section split into chapters, despite the timeline jumping from past to present it is still easy to follow and you find yourself looking forward to each escapade. The end of school, dead bodies, frantic typewriting, endless chores and babysitting duties all whilst desperately waiting for that damn movie to arrive at the local theatre. Each new part of the tale wonderfully builds the picture of Boden’s childhood and the dynamics of his family and the town he grew up in.

Boden’s voice is mesmerizing and has you flipping the pages so fast, before you know it you will be finished and frantically hunting for your Walkman and legwarmers. There is no need to compare it to more famous narratives of the same sub-genre, as whilst IT and A Boy’s Life are whopping tomes, Jedi Summer is bite-sized perfection.

As we learn more about Johnny and Roscoe, their hardworking mother and care-giving grandmother, and the antics they get up to, you feel you could easily be watching an episode of Scooby-Do or part of an Amblin movie, like The Goonies. The adventures are very realistic and the supernatural elements slot this brilliant novella into spooky and quiet horror rather than in-your-face terror like in IT.

I will definitely issue a warning with this book: have tissues on hand. This is horror with a heart, coming-of-age set to a track of good people being down on their luck. When another kid whispers, ‘Welfare Johnny’ and Johnny just ignores it, the tears came flooding. It’ll make you give your own kids a talking to about never being mean to those less fortunate than them and then give them a hug just because you love them. And that is not only the power of a great book, but evidence of an even greater storyteller.


Overall: 5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Buy from Amazon UK.

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Janine Pipe
Staff Reviewer
Janine has enjoyed horror from an early age, frightening herself with ghost stories and learning the craft from Stephen King. After trading in a police badge and an apple for the teach (ing assistant) er, she decided to try her hand at something she loved – writing her own scary stuff. She has many terrifying tales published and has been nominated for a 2020 Splatterpunk Award. She hopes her mum never reads a certain story about a hole in a tree … As well as reading and writing, she is an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press with her BFF Jill, where she is always on the lookout for new women’s voices for their anthologies. Her favourite authors and influences are quite obvious when you read her work. But she’d like to remind you they are: Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. When not writing, reading or reviewing, Janine can be found at home with her husband and daughter, planning their next trip to Walt Disney World and drinking obscene amounts of coffee.
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