Cover Story: Go Kindle or Go Home
You’d think with all the dozens of covers the re-issues have had over the years, you could find one of two worth reading in public. Well you’d be wrong. Dead wrong (heh). Actually, the most recent update isn’t too bad but large scary words aren’t exactly winning any creativity awards from me.
High school senior Julie James opens her mail to find an anonymous letter. I Know What You Did Last Summer is all the note says. Which for you or me wouldn’t be too big of a deal. Me? Well, I would be appreciative because now that I work A Full Time Grownup Job, I can no longer differentiate between seasons. And you! You might say oh thank you I cannot possibly remember all the fun and adventures I carried on last summer, what with all the alcohol fueled black outs, thank you kindly for reminding me! But Julie is decidedly less enthused, considering her summer plans involved a hit and run accident in which she and her friends killed a little boy. Whoopsy Daisy! Especially since they were dranking their drinks and doing their weeds before driving. Especially because they mowed the kid down and didn’t even bother to check on him. Especially since, if caught, basically one or all of them should be in jail. Now Julie, Ray, Barry and Helen are all receiving messages and it looks like someone knows they were behind the little boys death. And even better worse, it looks like that person is out to punish them.
BFF Charm: Not a Chance
Now just because I don’t want to be friends with these four, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading about them. I loved getting into all four characters heads (especially Barry and Helen’s) and was surprisingly satisfied with how distinct and well developed these four were for such a short book, and a thriller at that.* But people who drunk drive/hit and run a child/don’t go back to help are very low on my BFF charm waiting list. Somewhere under that cat bin lady from England and right before Jesse James.
*This may or may not have something to do with the last YA ‘thrillers’ I have read being written by Christopher Pike. I mean, I loved those books to lizard people sized pieces but he usually wrote one of two females: hot-bitchy-cheerleader with big boobs or girl-next-door with big boobs.
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
GUYS THERE IS NOTHING SEXY ABOUT DRUNK DRIVING, OKAY? CALL ME AND I WILL COME PICK YOU UP, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. And there isn’t much sexy taking place between our two couples either. Julie and Ray are exes with lingering feelings and are going through a how the hell do we act around each other phase. Barry and Helen are high school sweethearts well past their expiration date. So while neither couple has a very aspirational relationship, both dynamics are interesting to read about.
Talky Talk: Right On
Can you believe I’m giving this book a right on? When it was written nearly forty years ago! Despite some outdated terminology and situations, the characters and the writing felt fresh and fitting to even a modern
teen lady such as myself. I just read, however, that the most recent version of this (and a few other Duncan books) have had their language ‘updated.’ Bummertown, because I thought this was great as is.
Bonus Factor: Thrills
This was a mystery! A suspense thriller! And I wanted to know who the mystery note sender/possible murderer was! And the pacing kept me interested! And I was satisfied with the conclusions! Uhh, can you tell that maybe it’s been a while since I’ve had a good thrill?** A mystery book thrill guys, god, what did you think I was talking about, get your minds out of the gutter. This is a really respectable review site where we write very serious and well thought out literary reviews and there is no personal over-sharing whatsoever. And when alcohol is involved we don’t drive really fast around mountain curves and kill kids, OKAY??! Okay.
**I say this despite the fact that I have watched two episodes of Bones on average, every day for the last three months. That counts as a mystery/thriller, right? Then why am I so un-thrilled? Is it because I’ve watched nearly one hundred episodes and Bones and Booth still haven’t rubbed their genitals together??! Guys, fictional blue balls is real problem and you can get seriously hurt from it, really. I know a guy who, like, totally died from it.
A movie has already been made, guys! And I totally watched it in theaters, back when it came out in 1997. I’m fairly certain it was nothing like the book. I mean, the names were the same and there was a thing that happened last summer with a car. After that, not so much.
This is what hotness looked like in 1997.
But I’m not going to re-cast because I actually like their picks. I mean Ryan Phillipe has that fratty golden-boy thing going for him and Sarah Michelle Gellar just radiates center-of-her-own-universe beauty queen vibe. And isn’t Jennifer Love Hewitt kind of the perfect ex-cheerleader sadsack? The only cast member that doesn’t jive is Freddie Prinze Jr. but that’s because Ray was supposed to be your average-joe type. Are there any teenage average-joe types in Hollywood? If this movie had been made in 2008, Ray could have been Michael Cera. Ridiculous.
Relationship Status: My Steady
I have to borrow this book’s 1970s terminology to adequately express how I feel about it. Somehow I had managed to avoid reading any Lois Duncan, which is too bad! Because this book was a fun, quick ride and now I will have to check out her others. Maybe this isn’t the kind of book you continue dating after high school but for now this book can be my steady Friday night date.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). I Know What You Did Last Summer is available now.