Reviewed by Aleah Yundt
Last Summer: A Review
I Know What You Did Last Summer was written by Lois Duncan and published by Pocket Books in March of 1975. It was later made into a movie and made an average of 16 million dollars in America, with a total average of 125.5 million dollars worldwide. The popularity of this novel was due to the fact that it was packed with suspense and mystery. The setting of the story is based in an un-named small town during a little before the end of their high school years, while all of the characters are still readjusting to the horrific night they all share. This includes who the best character is, the central conflict of the story, and the central theme. ‘It was one year ago that it happened. A night that they would never forget. Every day, each one of them was fighting a battle against themselves and the demons they carry, just trying to forget the horrid night they all share when they did something they could never fix or take back. They’re slowly getting better and forgiving themselves, but there’s one person who’ll never forgive or forget what happened, and he’s not planning on letting them forget either. He wants them to remember, to feel the pain that his little brother did that fateful night. He wants revenge, and he’s going to get it.’
The most interesting character is Julie, a small and red headed girl, who’s also Ray’s ex-girlfriend. She’s my favorite character for a handful of reasons. One reason is because of the huge change she went through after that one fateful night. She changed from a peppy, outgoing cheerleader to a calm, studious girl who’s trying to be accepted into her top pick college. Speaking of college, something worth mentioning is that she would’ve never went farther from home than to her home town university, but now she’s looking to go all the way across the country for schooling. Her and Rays relationship is also interesting to me. Before, even though she was an outgoing girl, she never seemed to open up. According to Ray, she had only ever opened up to him once. One day, she all of a sudden turned around to tell him she loved him, and that’s the only time. Julie is a character who has more to her than it seems, even when she didn’t have much to worry or be upset about, but now that she does, there’s a lot of conflict that she shares with the other main characters.
Julie, Ray, Helen and Barry all share the same central conflict. What they did the previous summer is coming back to haunt them and they need to figure out who’s sending them random messages. These messages include a letter, a newspaper clipping, a phone call, text messages and some cut out magazine pictures. Julie and Ray decide to try and solve this conflict, but Helen floats back into her own little world while her boyfriend Barry continues to pretend like nothing is happening. Barry’s gotten the worst of the four, which includes getting shot and getting thrown into the position of wondering whether he’s going to ever be able to walk again. These situations that the characters are in also leads to the central theme of Man vs Himself.
The theme is Man vs Himself. This is something that all of the characters are going through and it’s relatable to all people. No matter who you are, you’ll always have some sort of conflict that you’re trying to solve. In the quote,
“Aloud she said ‘Why not you Ray? You were involved with this as much as the rest of us. Why is it that Bud never tried to do anything to you?’
‘He did,” Ray said softly. ‘Tonight.’ His arm around her tightened. ‘He knew the worst thing for me was a world without you.’” (198). It exemplifies the theme by showing that Ray had previously worked through a life without Julie when he left for a year. He’s also still trying to deal without having Julie as his girlfriend, but as long as she’s alive and safe, he can live too.
Overall, I’d give this novel a rating of four out of five. I give it this because it has a good cast of characters, and the way the mystery unravels is really interesting. It also captured my attention and I would read it again. I would recommend this to anyone who likes mystery and is ages thirteen or older. I would also like to mention that there is some emotional things mentioned and involved, so it’d be for those who are more mature. If you’ve already read this book and enjoyed it, or are interested in this book, then I’d like to recommend you to a similar book called Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan. It’s by the same author and is also very mysterious. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.