Thursday, February 9, 2012

Loving Lois Duncan (2)

Finally, I've completed all 8 of Lois Duncan's suspenseful young adult novels, which have been completely updated for this generation. I've started reading Duncan this year, and her books have always given me hours and hours of good thrills. Even though these books were written in the late 70s and early 80s, there's still a freshness and relevance to them, which still make the books satisfying reads.

Perhaps her most famous work is this, I Know What You Did Last Summer, which have been made into a movie in the early 2000s. The book though is just as fast paced (perhaps even more so) than the movie. Teenagers really do some crazy shit, and Duncan knows her teenage characters very much. You know something bad happens when people just cover up the mess they find themselves into.

Another of Duncan's more famous novel is Don't Look Behind You. Think of the movie "Cape Fear" crossed with a teenage slasher flick, that's what you get in this YA novel. It's about a family who is forced into the witness protection program. However, a hit man is out to get them, and that hitman is one creepy guy who has a very uncanny way of learning the family's whereabouts. In this novel, Duncan allows the reader to get a glimpse of the many challenges a family faces in that particular circumstance -- being unrooted from all their friends and family, living under assumed identities, and having that constant paranoia.

Daughters of Eve has been criticized as being overly feminist. In fact, some feminists have called the book as damaging to the feminist movement. The main characters are a group of high school female students who decide that they have had enough of living in a very patriarchal society. Of course, their methods of dealing with these problems tend to become violent, from vandalizing the school laboratory (with pig shit) to abducting and humiliating a two-timing high school jock, who happens to be a brother of one of their members.

Stranger with My Face is my favorite of the 8 novels though. The idea of having a doppelganger has always creeped me out, and this book, at first glance, seems to delve into that concept. But Duncan again surprises the reader when she injects elements of native American mysticism into her story. It's the kind of novel that makes you think about the possibility of an esoteric belief such as astral projection. I also think that it's one of Duncan's novels that has a very strong fantasy element. I guarantee you that you'll be creeped out as well.


blooey said...

Ooh, nice new covers!

I read Summer of Fear when I was in high school, scared me silly!

Jack said...

Ah, sooooo! I haven't read YA in a long time, and somehow had never connected Lois Duncan with "I Know What You Did..." I may have to take a look at that, and depending on how it grabs me, I'll have another pile of books to read.

Thanks again!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Blooey! I would have to agree with you. It IS very scary!

Hello, Jack! I also didn't know that 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' was a book!

Mrs. B. said...

Finally bought my first Duncan today. Figured it would be perfect for my Bohol trip next week. It was hard to choose but finally chose Stranger With My Face. Hope it's as good as you say! After some research I also found out Summer of Fear was a cheesy 80s TV movie called Stranger in The House. I remember I liked that movie. I wonder why we didn't come across Duncan's books when we were kids? Didn't they have them here?

Peter S. said...

Hello, Mrs B! All of Duncan's novels are easy reads, so I hope you have a good time going through your first Duncan.

I'm sure her novels were around when we were kids. Maybe they were not just promoted that well.

sundersartwork said...

Never heard of this author i just thought the iknow what you did last summer film was just a film. When their is critiscm of a book i would always look to see who is doing the protesting.