The Girl Next Door
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The Girl Next Door

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  8,996 ratings  ·  851 reviews
A teenage girl is held captive and brutally tortured by neighborhood children. Based on a true story, this shocking novel reveals the depravity of which we are all capable.
ebook, 386 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Dorchester Publishing (first published December 1st 1989)
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Flannery
This is a fictional story based on an actual 1965 killing of a teenage girl in Indiana. The girl, Sylvia Likens and her sister Jenny were put into the care of a single mother by her carnie parents. The woman, Gertrude Baniszewski, several of her children, and some neighborhood children tortured and eventually murdered Sylvia. She was forced to endure unbelievable atrocities like scalding baths, the carving of words into her body with needles, repeated beatings, eating feces, and worse. Ketchum d...more
Stephen
WARNING: For those of you that still have a tattered, fragmentary scrap of optimism for the inherent goodness of people, this book may well rip it from you and shred your faith in mankind. This book is as disturbing as anything I have ever read. This is mostly because the novel slammed all of my soft/weak spots when it comes to violence, including:

1. Torture;
2. Sadism;
3. Violence against children;
4. Violence committed by children; and
5. Prolonged mental abuse.


…and worst of all, this is based on...more
Paul
Here's another long lingering gaze upon our inhuman humanity for everyone who is still labouring under the delusion that there might be a tiny shred, maybe just a single thread, something, anything, of common decency to be found in the vast majority of ordinary people. Jack Ketchum's here to tell you - sorry. There's not.

This novel is based on a real crime which took place in 1965. JK relocates it to 1958 and, creepily, as if this tale needs more creep, which it doesn't, to his home town - to h...more
Amber Rose
This is the hardest book for me to rate.

I want to rate it a 5 star because it was greatly written. I want to give it 5 stars because I couldn't stop reading. I did have to put it down once, and step away from it. It almost became too much for me. I knew what I was getting my self into before I even downloaded this on my Kindle. It is based on a true story. I read about the story on line and knew how it ended. If you are looking for a happy ever after with this book your not going to get it. I...more
Keith
In reviewing "American Psycho," all the other reviews from folks who said they wished the book did not exist struck a chord within me. AP never affected me that strongly, but I knew there was a book I felt that way about...oh yes!!! GIRL NEXT DOOR.

I wish this book did not exist. I wish all the people associated with its publishing had never been born. I almost considered ending my friendship with the guy who lent it to me just because I did not want to know a person who owned it, and that guy ha...more
Peter
Jun 20, 2007 Peter rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eh... no one. Ted Bundy, maybe?
Why is it always so hard to admit that I like Stephen King? (You see that? Right there! Even then, when I did kind of admit it, I made sure to censor myself, and under-exaggerate how I really feel...)

All right, fine. I love Stephen King. And I promise to spare you any rantings and ravings about how I think he's one of the most underrated writers of our time (nevermind that he's the bestselling novelist in the world), because this is not his book. I'll save it for "The Stand" or "Lisey's Story."...more
Kristen
Rating this book is one of the most difficult ratings I've done. On one hand, this is an extremely well written book. The characters feel real, you care about the ones you are supposed to care about, and genuinely loath those you aren't. The scenes are set well and it is very clear as to what is happening. Your mind will have no trouble picturing exactly what is transpiring, and that is precisely why this book is so hard to rate.

You don't want to picture what transpires in this book. You don't...more
Charlene
Before reading this book, you need to prepare yourself.
Yes, it's going to be disturbing.
Yes, it's going to turn your stomach to knots.
Yes, it's going to make you very, very angry.

I won't go into the plot since several reviews and the book description already do that. I will say that to me, this book reveals the ugliest possible sides of human behavior, the worst being when good people do NOTHING to help.
Even the author is disgusted by what happened, according to his note at the back of the book...more
Lou
A shocking story of abuse at the hands of an evil mother.
What was once a harmless game of fun that a group of friends played in a neighborhood turned into a game of torture and abuse.
Executed by the hands of kids ranging 7 to 13 and one wicked woman.
There was one boy who did not want to take part and tried to dissociate from what he was seeing.
The boy also fell in love with one of the girls, who was the person who was receiving the brunt of the violence.
She arrived in the neighborhood just r...more
Thomas
This is one of the leanest, nastiest books I've ever read. I consume a good deal of horror fiction, but this one really took some fortitude to get through certain sequences. It tells a fictionalized account of the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. Here's something from the wikipedia entry on the case:

Sylvia Marie Likens (January 3, 1949 - October 26, 1965) was tortured to death by Gertrude Baniszewski (née Van Fossan), her children, and other children from their neighborhood. Her parents, car...more
Barks & Bites
This is a disturbing book and a difficult one to read if you know beforehand how it ends (and it's pretty easy to figure out the outcome from the narrator's early comments).

Knowing so much about this book before I picked it up (I read about the real life case it is based upon on crimelibrary.com), I figured I'd be able to handle the content but it was so unrelentingly brutal near the end that I had to put it down and watch a silly movie (The 40 Year Old Virgin, if you must know) to help me tempo...more
Wendy Darling
I've read many accounts of crimes that are as horrible as (and sometimes even more horrible than) the terrible things that happen in this book, both in terms of real-life non-fiction crimes and in visceral thrillers. The voyeuristic, no-accountability POV in which this story was presented, however, relegates it to nothing more than straight out, uninspired shlock horror. Even then, the most gruesome parts are skated over and related in such a no-frills way that the book doesn't even succeed in b...more
Tressa
This book was well written, but I could barely bring myself to get through it. I'm a chicken when it comes to watching or reading about people being physically, mentally and verbally abused, and no one stepping in to stop it. What makes it worse is that this book is based on a true story.

The ending made gave me a tiny sense of satisfaction.
Gatorman
This was a terrific book, brutal to read at times but wonderfully written and gripping from beginning to end. The fact that it is based on a true story made it all the more horrifying. Ketchum took a tough tale and managed to keep you glued to the pages even when you wanted to look away. Highly recommended but not for the squeamish.
Anton
This book is revolting. I read it knowing that it would be. If memory serves, the Village Voice once said Ketchum amounted to "torture porn." They were probably talking about this particular novel, which is based on an actual torture-murder in Indiana in which a child was imprisoned in a basement and brutalized by the woman with whom she boarded and the neighborhood kids until she died. My primary motive in reading it was a more or less clinical interest in popular horror fiction, and this guy i...more
Brainycat
This book should be required highschool reading. Forget Knowle's A Separate Peace and Golding's Lord of the Flies. This is the book to read if you want to explore the space between empathy, peer pressure, cruelty, and the turmoil of adolescence.

This book tells a fictionalized story of two girls,10(?) and 14 years old who are horribly abused, one of whom ultimately dies at the hands of her sociopathic guardian. In the epilogue, Jack says his book is based on a true story, and he strove to maintai...more
Trudi
Ketchum's prose is tight and puts you right into the story. Considering the brutal content of this particular novel, that can prove for heart-rending, heart-stopping reading. This book is not for the squeamish, and I'll admit, there are a few places where I thought I would have to quit it for my own sanity. Gets under the skin.

The Girl Next Door is the harrowing tale of two sisters, Meg and Sarah, who lose their parents in a car accident. They are sent to live with a relative, Ruth, who over th...more
Patrick
Jul 18, 2008 Patrick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patrick by: Stephen King
Shelves: 2008
Finally something that lives up to the hype! This book has a reputation as being one of the most disturbing things ever and did not disappoint. Ketchum begins by expertly crafting the idyllic world of 1950's suburbia as seen through the eyes of the white, preteen boy. All of the horrific scenes throughout the book only have their impact because of how authentic of a world he creates initially, the way young boys think, talk, and act. The story is about two sisters who lose their parents in a car...more
Ⓑⓔⓣⓗ
*breaths*

I will start by saying the 4 stars are for the author and his writing style and for the fate that I will go on to read more books by him.

I tried to read this book as fiction I honestly did, all the names etc are different and heck even the plot in this book is different (no spoilers here) but I simply could not get away from the real crime this book is based on. I first learned bout it about 10 years ago when I watch the movie and although I'm a true-crime buff and I've seen more than e...more
Bill
Behold, the holy grail of horror novels is back in print. The Girl Next Door has been on my to-read list since forever, but good luck finding a battered paperback on Ebay for less than $60.
Well, May 2005 it was re-issued. And good thing too. Because this is not a $60 read. The Girl Next Door has gained infamy over the Internet as being the one novel that, no matter how prepared you are for it, it will still shock you.
The violence in this novel is well over the top. And the storyline regarding th...more
Kim
About 3/4 of the way through...
I have read a lot of disturbing books, this is definitely one of the most disturbing, it almost makes you feel guilty by even reading it. Wonderfully written & grips you the entire way, even though you are distraught through every page.

Ok I'm finished now. This book was amazingly captivating & wonderfully written, I felt like I was there watching it all. That said, this is officially the MOST disburbing book I have ever read.
I am still shaken, and am now...more
Pam Godwin
I picked up this book one night, sat on my deck, and didn't move until I finished the final chapter. Didn't get a drink. Didn't eat. Didn't go to the bathroom. I was so engrossed, so horrified, my muscles strained in anticipation, I couldn't've pulled myself away if I wanted to. This book is gruesome, heart-aching, and based on a true story. Took me days to stop thinking about the horror that was this girl's short life. And now, years after reading it, the story still haunts me.
Marc-Antoine
Disturbing, gory, disgusting and really messed up. Scary because things like this really do happen. You keep reading for the same reason you slow down to look when there is a car accident. Nothing scares me more than psychotic sociopaths.
Candace Moser
I gave it 3 stars because I thought it was a decent read, I couldn't put it down and read it in one night. But this book is heralded as a horror classic. What a joke. There is no horror here. Just a well written fictionalized account of the torture of a young girl based on an actual crime (the case of Sylvia Likens). Graphic and uncomfortable does not equal horror.

It was recommended to me because I like horror and gore. People try to recommend me "the most horrible/awful/traumatizing" books they...more
Mon
Sep 09, 2010 Mon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mon by: http://www.popcrunch.com/the-10-most-disturbing-books-of-all-time/
Let me start this review by stating that I'm not a squeamish person. Without sounding like a testosterone filled, Chuck Norris worshiping teenage boy, I must say I'm a big fan of horror film, not for its suspense or thrill but plain gore. Yes, I like things that involve a lot of blood, severed body parts, weapons, creative killings, zombies, vampires (not the sparkly kind) and things your mum covered your eyes from.

I came across Ketchum's novel when I googled 'most disturbing book of all time',...more
Sam
A frustrating, yet thought provoking reading experience.

I liked Jack Ketchum's style of writing in terms of how it flows nicely; is easy to read; strong atmosphere and pacing etc... but the actual story didn't work for me. I have a high tolerance for bad-taste, torture-porn, gore, whatever you want to label it. But the gratuitous and incredibly repetitive violence isn't what made this book a let-down for me, what did was that I felt like Ketchum didn't really have anything to say about abuse. Th...more
Gary
This book was my introduction to Jack Ketchum and it definitely put him on the map as far as horror authors are concerned. His other books were okay (a little on the slow side for me). This one is the epitome of what Ketchum is capable of.
As things like this continue to occur in our society it becomes apparent Ketchum tapped into a current of thought in an archetypal way like Bentley did with Jaws in the 70s. This time the monsters are human-not fish.
He lets you inside the mind capable of tre...more
Lindsey
This book was quite a horrific story based on the Killing in Indiana (1965). I only wish that I had known this was based on an actual occurrence before I started reading it or else I would have known to read the book written about the first. The non-fiction and actual account of what happened on that terrible day is covered in the book "House Of Evil: The Indiana Torture Slaying."I would recommend reading the actual account of what happened before reading this book in order to gain a true unders...more
Josh
Based on a true story, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is a difficult read yet one that is hard to put down once you start. Made more heinous by virtue of its true crime origins, the fictionalized account of a teenage girl's prolonged torture at the hands of her caregivers and neighborhood teens has all the hallmarks of a classic Ketchum horror with an added element of suspense and omnipresent dredd.

Using a first person narrative, Ketchum provides a voice as well as a hint of hope to Meg's predicament. Thro...more
Nibra Tee
If you've always believed in fairy tales and unicorns and your head smells like sunshine, then better look away from this book.

A few years ago I've seen a documentary, which I no longer remember in details, about a woman who floundered into madness after several failed marriages. She bore five children from all her affairs: two boys and three girls. She was pretty much a mother to her boys, but to the girls, it was a different story. She was jealous of her daughters. Some said it was their yout...more
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Consensus: Most disturbing book ever? 47 396 Jun 14, 2014 06:12AM  
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Horror Help 8 64 May 03, 2012 08:28AM  
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90070
Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is per...more
More about Jack Ketchum...
Off Season The Lost Red Offspring: The Sequel to Off Season Triage

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“As though all the world were a bad joke and she was the only one around who knew the punchline.” 18 likes
“I lay in bed and thought about how easy it was to hurt a person. It didn't have to be physical. All you had to do was take a good hard kick at something they cared about.” 5 likes
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