Top critical review
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For the most part, still a good read 50 years later
on December 13, 2014
As a teen I loved Lois Duncan's books, and probably read every single fiction book she wrote. When I recently stumbled across Ransom in the Amazon Kindle Store, I bought it to read (or re-read, as I couldn't remember if I'd ever read the book) for nostalgia's sake.
Like many of Duncan's young adult books, this one is a thriller. Five high schoolers are taken hostage and held for ransom when riding home from school one day. At first they don't suspect anything is wrong when their normal bus driver is out and a substitute is in his place. After all of the kids besides the 5 that live in the "rich" neighborhood are dropped off, the 5 remaining kids are taken to a remote cabin, where they are held at gunpoint until their parents pay their kidnappers.
Reading this as an adult, I found the book enjoyable, but not too thrilling. If I were younger, I probably would have found it more exciting. The ending is a bit abrupt, and there isn't much closure on what happens to the kids after the events of this book. However, I still enjoyed the book and thought Duncan kept events from dragging on by keeping the book moving along.
One thing I thought was odd was that it seemed this book had clearly been edited to try to make it seem more current. This book was originally written in the 60s, but there were a few random references to cell phones in the Kindle version I read. The random references seemed to make it quite obvious that they were being added way after the fact to try to make the book seem newer, and I would have preferred to have just read the original book without these references, even if they had dated the book. For instance, when the kids are kidnapped, the kidnappers make a demand that everyone throw their cell phones on the floor. Then at another point, there is a single sentence about how there isn't any cell service up in the mountains where the cabin is at. In total there were probably only 3 or 4 sentences thrown in throughout the book to address or explain away why these teens couldn't have just whipped out cell phones to call for help, but I thought it took away from the book. I think teens today could have read the original version of the book and understood that this was written in the 60s, which is why cell phones aren't mentioned. My guess is publishers were afraid an older book wouldn't appeal to kids today without these minor edits, but I think I would have preferred a simple sentence about the year the book was set in to these stupid after-the-fact sentences that were added in, if they demanded something be added.
At any rate, this was a good book. For the most part, if you look past the stupid updates about cell phones, the book still holds up more than 50 years after it was written.