Planet of the Dates: Reviews

“★★★★★ There’s no shortage of smarmy coming of age tales with the cliché events we all know. Planet of the Dates is not one of those books, following young Phil, a sci-fi geek of sorts who enters into a believable story filled with entertaining characters and realistic outcomes when Phil is faced with more than one romantic possibility. Brilliant writing from first page to last that should keep the book in the reader’s hands the entire time, Planet of the Dates is enthusiastically recommended to both science fiction buffs and romance fans everywhere — and especially for community library contemporary fiction collections.”
The Midwest Book Review

“During a thrilling summer on the cusp of his 17th birthday, Phil Corcoran will stop at nothing to win the love (and physical intimacy) of a girl. He might even learn a thing or two about himself along the way, if he’s not careful. The times I’ve truly enjoyed a man’s voice as the main character are few and far between, so imagine my surprise when Phil was able to immediately pull me into his world, without even working hard for it! The best thing about this story is that Phil is such a likable guy; the author has done a beautiful job of using Phil as the vehicle to describe teenage male angst and shed light on the age-old phrase ‘He’s only after one thing.’ As for the ending, I won’t give it away, but—Bravo! I liked the twist because I wasn’t expecting it. It showed that Phil’s 16th summer shaped him as a person, and a good one at that.”

“Planet of the Dates offers readers a glimpse into the shifting political and cultural climate of the late 1970s and early ’80s – an era when the public’s anxiety was being lulled into remission by Reaganism – through the eyes of an ardent youth. The novel humorously relates the awkwardness of adolescence, which, alongside its political and cultural subtext, makes for an entertaining examination of sex and love through the eyes of a romantic but horny teenager; Phil Corcoran careens from one bold romantic quest to another, barely losing momentum and finally crashing painfully back to reality. Relaying his protagonist’s carnal needs without losing sight of his spirit, McComas uses humor with deliberation, both to disarm his readers and to throw the more painful experiences into relief.”
Milwaukee Shepherd-Express

“For anyone who’s ever wondered if all teenage boys think about is sex, this second novel from McComas (Unplugged) should eliminate all doubt: the answer is yes. Set chiefly in Wisconsin during the summer of 1980, this tale details the efforts of 16-year-old Phil Corcoran — an aspiring filmmaker, aficionado of schlocky horror films, and reluctant virgin — to rid himself of the latter distinction. His quest involves a trio of beauties: Danielle (Dee) Payton, an African-American girl reluctant to date a Caucasian; Stefanie Slocum, the female lead in several of his films (including Prehistoric Planet of the Apes); and Cheryl Jantz, a troubled young woman whom Phil tries to save. While the courses of his romances are often painful, by the end, Phil finds his happily-ever-after with a likable mix of humor and charm.”
Publishers Weekly (Dec. 10, 2007)

“Paul McComas’ fresh, funny, and fast-paced second novel is a well-written and thought-provoking exploration of first love, self-revelation, and the sometimes-awkward transition from adolescence to adulthood.”
The Peninsula Pulse Door County, WI

Planet of the Dates is a genuine page-turner and a superb read. The ending totally took me by surprise, resulting in a laugh-out-loud moment when I finally discovered what McComas was up to. His talent jumps off the page….A total pleasure.”
Adam Belanoff, writer/producer for TNT’s award-winning The Closer

“While drawing on his own memories, McComas tweaks reality (in) idiosyncratic ways. Laugh-out-loud funny. . . .With any luck, this comic novel about a girl-obsessed teen making cheapo sci-fi and horror movies will become a film (itself).”
Pioneer Press, suburban Chicago

“(Protagonist Phil Corcoran) has all the loopy self-consciousness of a prototypical teenager. Catching a view of himself reflected in a restaurant window, he thinks he looks ‘hip, yet apprehensive – Abbie Hoffman during a raid.’ There’s a certain sweetness to (this) story, as…the events of callow youth are viewed through a patina of nostalgia.”
Kirkus Review (December 1, 2007)

“Author Paul McComas offers a valentine to the world (in this tale of) true love, teen love. . .told in a profoundly humorous voice.”
Evanston (Ill.) Round Table (February 20, 2008)

“Very true-to-life. Cheryl is the girl we all knew in high school who, by the time she turned 16, had ‘been there, done that’….[The novel evokes] a tumultuous era….The ending is dramatic.”
“Lake Effect,” Milwaukee Public Radio

“Milwaukee readers will find a lot of familiar sights and sounds in this well-reviewed book from award-winning filmmaker and novelist Paul McComas, a native Milwaukeean who includes within his narrative many interesting elements of the early-’80s Milwaukee music, including Radio Doctors Records, the Starship punk club, Sweet Doomed Angel clothes, the Park Avenue disco, and local bands like the Oil Tasters, X-Cleavers, The Haskels, and the Red Ball Jets.” (February 20, 2008)

“Paul McComas peppers this charming return to the summer of 1980 — a fondly-remembered time of Pacers and Fotomats, discotheques and punk-rock dives — with the quirky obsessions of a nascent filmmaker to produce the sweet, highly original, emotionally honest, and painfully funny tale of a teenage boy’s first grapples with love.”
Christina Schwarz, author of the #1 New York Times best sellerDrowning Ruth

“Ambitious…fascinating…Moves beyond stock characters and into sophisticated personalities with a lot of layers.”
“Authors & Poets,” WYPX/Ion Media Network

“Brave, funny, and really fun…American Pie with heart. Go out and read it!”
“The Morning Blend,” WTMJ-4 NBC Milwaukee

“McComas has a fertile imagination, but don’t be fooled by the gorilla soldiers and sea serpents: the characters in this honest, open-hearted, unpretentious novel are entirely human.”
Eric Greene, author of “Planet of the Apes” as American Myth: Race, Politics, and Popular Culture

“This Planet is populated by exactly what one wants in a romantic coming-of-age novel: believable, engaging characters; unschooled desires; hypnotic yearnings; impetuous acts begetting hilarious outcomes — and one ‘main squeeze’ too many. This is a tender, affecting tale of a clumsy quest, of a lucky first love, and of the pain young hearts must learn — all sustained delightfully by the vibrant prose of Paul McComas, whose special knack is for piercing both heart and funnybone with each deft stroke.”
William Hart, author of Operation Supergoose and Never Fade Away

“It is often difficult for a male writer to create truly believable female characters, but Paul McComas gives us exceptionally strong, engaging young women in Stefanie Slocum, Danielle Payton and Cheryl Jantz. Each one is rendered with a prose mastery that brings her to breathing life. This is a warm, witty, wonderful narrative and a peach of a novel.”
William F. Nolan, best-selling author of Logan’s Run, from his Foreword