Book review: Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid – John Boden


It seems as if the 1980s are everybody’s favorite thing again. The recent success of television show ‘Stranger Things’ has rekindled a love for a time that I personally look back on with a great fondness. The 80s to me were all about trips to the video store with friends, trying to push the clerk into letting us rent out the latest video nasty, despite us being well under age. I loved the music of the 80s too; bands like Duran Duran, U2, R.E.M, The Police and artists like Prince were all parts of my musical diet growing up. Though it wasn’t until the late 80s that I discovered Guns N Roses where my love of heavier music began and the rest as they say is history…

John Boden’s novella ‘Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid’ has feet firmly rooted during this time (1983 to be exact). It is only a novella but is testament to the quality of John’s writing that he is able to write a coming-of-age tale in less than 100 pages and still manage to give you the feels.

It is a heartfelt and honest story, beautifully written with a passion and perhaps a longing for things to return to how they once were. The 80s seem so innocent now with the way things are in the world today and ‘Jedi Summer…’ provides the perfect escape. The book is written in an almost episodic kind of way, but still has a wonderful flow to it as we follow two young brothers lives in the build up to watching ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ at the theater.

Loaded with references to this bygone era, ‘Jedi Summer…’ isn’t just a love letter to another time. It is an engaging story about two brothers growing up, feeling their way into a new and unusual world. This semi-autobiographical tale will have the hairs on your arms standing on end and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside come the books end.

‘Jedi Summer…’ isn’t all niceties. There is a definite undercurrent of darkness (if anybody is familiar with John’s other works then they will be all too familiar with this). What parts of this book are fact and what parts are fiction? this is something you will have to decide for yourself, but it all adds to the charm of the narrative.

In a world where turning on the television to watch the news can result in you spending the next few hours questioning where we went wrong as society, ‘Jedi Summer…’ harks back to a time when life was certainly a little less complicated, perhaps even a little more fun and living had a great soundtrack. Even if you weren’t a child of the 80s, I am sure there will be something here for you, be it the innocence of youth, the family struggles you can relate to, the excitement about a trip to the movies or just being able to connect with the bond shared between two siblings. John Boden skilfully manages to tell us a story in less than 100 pages what some authors couldn’t do in 400+ pages. Boden isn’t just a writer, he is a storyteller and this is a wonderful book.

You can pick up a copy of this book from here.

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