I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

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I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
Buy I Know What You Did Last Summer from Amazon.co.uk

Buy I Know What You Did Last Summer from Amazon.com

Genre: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: Nothing out of the ordinary but a succinct page-turning read nonetheless, that relies more on the distinctive voices and personalities of the characters than the plot.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Atom
ISBN: 978-1907410604

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A year ago, four teenagers committed a shocking crime after a party where they all had too much to drink, and overwhelmed by indecision, fear and desperation they made a pact to keep the incidents of the fateful night a secret. However, someone knows their secret and that someone is determined to make them face up to the consequences of their actions. Their binding pact has held together for a year, partly out of the friendship they shared and mostly out of guilt, but when it becomes apparent that there is someone who is looking for revenge, it suddenly becomes deadly important that they face up to the truth, for their own sakes.

All four of the friends have tried to put the incident behind them and some are more successful than others. Barry's only feelings about the incident lie in his fear of the consequences if his role were to be revealed and naive Helen has managed to deceive herself into believing that her world is perfect and nothing can go wrong for her. However, guilt remains a heavy burden for Julie, whose whole attitude towards life is tinged with memories of the incident, and when her former boyfriend Ray returns, searching for closure and prepared to face the consequences, the weak walls that she painstakingly built up around the memory are torn away.

Considering that the book is relatively short, spreading the narrative between four main characters seems like an unwise choice. Nevertheless, Lois Duncan somehow manages to get across the individual personalities of the characters very well and we even see some development in their characters. Furthermore, none of them are bland or generic, and even those who are relatively stereotypical make for strong interesting narrative voices.

The nature of their crime is relatively predictable, it was no surprise that the author chooses to reveal this early on, and the plotting isn't particularly intricate or sophisticated. Nevertheless, despite the fact that my hunch about the identity of the unknown avenger turned out to be true (rather surprising as I am usually terrible at figuring out mystery novels), I still found the climax, nicely enhanced by a bit of dramatic irony and well built up tension, satisfactory. The abruptness of the conclusion was surprising, but thinking back, I reckon that it was the best way to go and places more emphasis on the more contemplative theme of guilt and acceptance of responsibility.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Guilt Trip by Anne Cassidy has a lot of similarities to the premise and characters of I Know What You Did Last Summer. For lovers of suspenseful thrillers I would highly recommend anything by Anne Cassidy, who always adds fascinating twists to her gripping mysteries. Black Rabbit Summer by the brilliant Kevin Brooks is a riveting teen crime novel with a fascinating depiction of adolescent psyche, which is also highly recommended.

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