Book Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan is the book that the film of the same name was based on. The revised edition was published by Atom is 2011 and the book is 233 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Last summer something terrible happened, causing four close friends to make a pact they swore they would never break. They want this secret to stay hidden forever.

Now, someone has learnt what really happened that summer and is out to make those four friends pay. Someone is stalking the group, one by one, making them realise that their secret is never going to go away. Is this stranger looking to just scare them into admission or is he playing a much deadlier game?

What I thought
Being a massive lover of horror films, I was quite excited to read this book. I don’t read a lot of horror books or books that have been made into films in general, just because of the worry of being let down but I was prepared to give this one a go. As much as I wanted to like it though, I just didn’t.

Characterisation was pretty weak from the very beginning. In the film, Julie James is quite likable because it seems like she has a head on her shoulders and actually has some morals but the book doesn’t show her the same way. Before the main event, Julie is as much of a partygoer as the rest of the characters, obviously only out to have a good time. What I liked about her in the film was that it was clear how much she cared and felt guilty about what happened but only a glimpse of that was shown in the book. For once, I think the film version actually did something better.

Other characters, like Helen, also didn’t impress me. Again, in the film, although she is a beauty queen, she comes across as quite strong and being able to fend for herself pretty well. The book shows Helen as a whiney, needy girl who can’t see that she’s being used. A high school drop out, basing her whole life on her looks, is not a good role model for anyone even though she was shown to be handling herself quite well at times. Barry was annoying as he was in the film, being self centred and arrogant didn’t do him any favours whatsoever. Ray was one of the characters I actually did like a little bit but I think that was mainly because I had Freddie Prince Jr. in my head the whole way through the book.

As for the plot (minus some changes), it moves the same way that the film does. The four main characters are all thrown back together after their actions of the previous summer are found out and the trouble begins. The thing that I love most about the horror genre is the tension. Although you can generally see bad things before they happen, the mystery is always there but not in this book. Even though I did already know what was going to happen, there was no tension at all. The excitement wouldn’t have been there had I not known what was going to happen. I was really disappointed with this aspect of the book and while it did read a little more like a thriller, it wasn’t that thrilling either.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to good to say about this book and I really wish I did have. I wanted to like it so much but due to hating most of the main characters from the start, I couldn’t get into it.

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