Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Never Came Home - A Book Review

This might be a new record. I finished exactly half of the book in one day.

They Never Came Home, by Lois Duncan.
Now this one, I never actually read, so I have a fresh perspective on it.

One weekend, Larry Drayfus and Dan Cotwell go camping in the mountains, and they never come back. Search party upon search party turn up zero results. They are declared dead. Then Larry's sister answers the phone, and a mysterious man says that Larry owes him a large sum of money.

Well, doesn't that just put everyone in a pickle. Joan (Larry's sister) can't possibly tell her parents. They've gone through so much grief already, what with Larry's disappearance/death. She's not taking it well either, seeing as Dan was her boyfriend. However, she takes it upon herself to sort out these matters, seeking help only from Dan's younger brother Frank.

Any more than that and I might spoil it. So I'll just deliver you my thoughts on what I read.

Honestly, it wasn't my favorite Lois Duncan book. Let alone the number of typos I encountered. (Misspelled words and even forgotten punctuation.) But the plot was slow moving. I feel like this book never really hit a climax. Oh it was suspenseful alright. It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen, but there was no real climax. More like several steep hills that you barely realized you went over.

Then there was the ending. (Don't worry, no spoilers.) Part of it seemed a bit far fetched. But then again, this book was written in 1969, and things were different back then. (Which also explains the language -- addressing one's daughter as "daughter," and telling someone to "can it.") So perhaps that even explains the slightly boring plot. In 1969 it might have been much more riveting, whereas in 2010, it's boring because it... happens more often? Something like that.

I did like the last chapter though. The last few paragraphs. And the last line especially. You know me, I'm not too keen on happy, puppies-and-rainbows-and-cupcakes-with-sprinkles-on-top endings. This was not one of those. It was almost morbid, but it was almost fitting. The character that gets in the final word -- you sympathize with him, and you're almost cheering him on in his final decision, despite how morally wrong it is.

I'll probably pick this book up again in the future. It's boring in parts, but it's also of a different time. Honestly, the plot reflects a different generation, but if you can sink into it, and believe you're a baby-boomer, (even if you are) then this book is pretty good.

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