After a succession of
novels set during some non-specific "season 3" point in time, it
makes a pleasant change to read some official Buffy fiction that's
actually set at a specific point in the show's history.
As its title suggests, How
I Survived My Summer Vacation is set between seasons one and two, and
tells how the Scooby Gang spent the weeks between Prophecy Girl and When
She Was Bad. However,
unlike Pocket Books' previous Buffy fiction, this isn't a single
story, but rather six separate stories written by a mix of existing and
first-time Buffy authors.
Many of Pocket Books'
previous Buffy novels have suffered from having too many characters
to squeeze in, and often those with one or more of the regulars absent have
proved more enjoyable. With its post season one setting, How I
Survived... has less of a problem - there's no Oz and both Cordelia and
Buffy are out of town.
Despite her absence from
Sunnydale (she's staying with her father in LA), Buffy takes the lead in a
couple of stories - Michelle West's Dust and No Place Like...,
the second of Cameron Dokey's two contributions. The former has her
dealing with the aftermath of Prophecy Girl, particularly the death of the
Master, while the latter sees her helping a spooky shopkeeper.
Back in Sunnydale, Absalom
Rising and Looks Can Kill see new vampire Absalom stepping into
the interregnum between the Master and Spike and Dru. With Buffy in
LA, and Jenny's desire to keep Xander and Willow out of the action as much
as possible, it's left to her, Giles and Angel to shoulder most of the
Once Nancy Holder's
apparent contractual obligation to mention the "once in every
generation" and "Boca del Infierno" things, our heroes
try to prevent the Master's bones from being taken by what's left of his
followers, while Looks Can Kill sees them battling a shapeshifter.
Uncle Dead and the
Fourth of July sees them up against a newly reborn vampire and a plague
of zombies, led by a dead Sunnydale war hero. One of the neat touches
throughout How I Survived... are the nods to later seasons - here
there's a brief appearance by Deputy Mayor Finch (Mayor Wilkins is out of
town), while elsewhere we get to see Angel in Giles' apartment.
Finally, The Show
Must Go On has Willow and Xander involved in a stage production of Macbeth,
unaware that it's being run by a group of vampires.
Although you could dip
into How I Survived My Summer Vacation's six stories in isolation, it
can also be taken as a whole. As a whole, it's actually some of Pocket
Books' most enjoyable Buffy fiction. The more specific setting
and the reduced character count help to produce an enjoyable read, although
if you don't like Jenny Calendar you probably won't like the collection
either as she plays a major role throughout.
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I SURVIVED MY SUMMER
VACATION, VOL. 1
by MICHELLE WEST,
NANCY HOLDER, CAMERON DOKEY,
YVONNE NAVARRO, PAUL RUDITIS