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They Never Came Home

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,428 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Dan and Larry’s hiking trip ends in a missing persons search. Can Joan find her brother before it’s too late?

When high school buddies Larry Drayfus and Dan Cotwell take a backpacking trip into the Mogollon Mountains, nobody is concerned when they don’t come home exactly on time. Dan is a natural outdoorsman, and he knows the mountains well. Larry is smart and resourceful.
ebook, 184 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Open Road Media Teen & Tween (first published 1968)
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Just because Lois Duncan’s They Never Came Home was written in the late 1960s (my Avon paper book edition published in 1969) doesn’t mean it should be as incredibly stupid and sexist as it is. This book is awful. I picked up this book somewhere, sometime during my travels and it’s sat on my book shelves for years. Because I needed some brain candy relief from the intense intellectual strain of my current book, I decided, hell yeah. Now’s the time to read this. Blech. Cardboard characters, melodr ...more
Rachel Finney
I normally love books by this author, but this one was unironically sexist and left little to the imagination in terms of plot. Love the author, just not this book.
Kelly Hager
This is one of Lois Duncan's novels that I hadn't read before. Most of her books have some sort of supernatural occurrence (whether it be a main aspect of the book, like in Locked in Time, or a brief moment of ESP, like in Killing Mr. Griffin or I Know What You Did Last Summer) but this one didn't. It also wasn't particularly creepy, as her books tend to be. (Although yes, I know she wrote Hotel For Dogs and that she writes a lot of non-scary books, too.)

I really like the premise of this book. W
This is my second Lois Duncan book. It's not amazing, but it's servicable, especially considering it was first published in the 1960s. The mystery isn't particularly hard to figure out, but it might be surprising for younger readers.

I've been reading ebook versions of Lois Duncan's books, and funnily enough, they've been slightly updated. So you'll see mentions of cell phones & online classes in here. And I never would have known this on my own, but according to other Goodreads reviews, the
Aug 04, 2015 Edwina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in an evening. The twist was obvious, but still I wanted to finish it. Simple but interesting. Unfortunately, I got the 2012 edition from the library. This meant that most of the story felt like the sixties, and then Joan takes online courses like it's the nineties all of a sudden. I then questioned how much else had been changed.
Apr 23, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I started reading this and realized I read it when I was in High school. I enjoyed it though, it has a nice twist to it, although it is pretty predictable throughout the book.
Jun 21, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really liked this book! it really kept me on my toes to find out wat happened next! i highly recomend this book!
Oct 11, 2016 Ri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist, 2016
1st star - As always, I give one star for finishing a book.
2nd star - The writing itself, not the plot but the grammar, is good. I always give a second star if the writing doesn't bother me, either if I don't notice any errors because I'm so drawn into the story, or because there really aren't any. I did notice one typo though: one page has the word game instead of gave.
3rd star - I really liked the story-line. It drew me right in pretty close to the start of the book and held my interest all th
Jan 20, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Well, I’m continuing my Lois Duncan bent by reading through the books that I don’t remember very well first. All I could remember from this one was basically what it says on the front cover… two boys go camping and they never come home.

To be honest, I can see why (comparatively speaking) this book didn’t stick in my memory as much as the others. It’s not as…. what’s the word I’m looking for… relatable? No, that’s not it. I think maybe the word is just interesting. It’s not as interesting as all
Apr 03, 2016 LobsterQuadrille rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody, unfortunately
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mariana Nava
Have you ever thought that it could be the last time seeing someone or never coming back? this books Genre is realistic fiction because this is a story that can happen. My overall opinion on this book is that i really liked it it was really exciting and it made you want to never stop reading it.

This book is about this two Boys Dan and Larry that that go camping in Mountains put end up going missing. There family looked for them but had no success and assumed the dead mean time Joan Griebers sh
Geraldine Orlik
This story begins with the disappearance of two teenage boys who spend a weekend camping in the mountains and never come home. As weeks turn into months their families agonize over the sketchy details surrounding their disappearance. Local authorities call off search parties and peg the two youths as dead. However, Joanie, the sister to one missing boy and girlfriend to the other is trying to stay strong and keep her family from falling apart. Her mother, in shock, now lives within herself, and ...more
Jun 20, 2010 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Joan’s brother, Larry, and boyfriend, Dan, mysteriously disappear while on a camping trip. No bodies are found. After the search is called off and newspapers release news of their assumed death by drowning, Joan receives a phone call from a stranger who claims her brother owes over two thousand dollars. She believes his story when she examines an IOU with her brother’s signature. The man tells her about the business her brother was involved in and gives her the opportunity to fill in for him in ...more
Alexandra Holt
Mar 04, 2015 Alexandra Holt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-13-25
Joan's boyfriend, Dan, and her younger brother, Larry, leave for a camping trip that quickly becomes a missing persons' case. Search party after search party continue to scour the wilderness for signs of either boy, but after months of not finding anything, Dan and Larry are presumed dead. As Joan grieves, she receives an unsettling call that Larry owes a 'John Brown' thousands of dollars, stating that if she doesn't help him recover his lost money by selling Indian trinkets, he will come after ...more
Sanjana Dantuluri
May 27, 2015 Sanjana Dantuluri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They Never Came Home, by Lois Duncan, is about two boys who decide to go camping in the mountains but end up going missing. The sister of one of the boys discovers that they might not really be missing, and that there might be more to the case.
Overall, the story was quite solid. Duncan provided enough information to imagine the settings and the characters. There wasn’t a lot of show not tell, but something that I personally found interesting was how Duncan described the personalities of the ch
Wing Kit
Two boys are gone on a camping trip, never found or returned home. Somewhere out in the world, 2 boys are living together some place else. One has forgotten his memory and one seems to know it all. Could these two boys be the missing boys from the camping trip? This book has a lot of plot twists which makes it very interesting and intense. Who knew that one of those boys who felt so mistreated and seemed kind could have been the one to cause many problems to two families. There are some confusin ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Relyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who likes the feel of shivers up their spine
I discovered Lois Duncan when I was a teenager. We lived in places with tiny libraries so I never got to read all her books. (Thank God for modern libraries and interlibrary loans.) This summer I was reading The Longstockings Blog ( and one of the writer's mentioned that this was her favorite of all Duncan's books. I still enjoy young adult literature, so I thought it would be fun to read a book I missed as a teenager.

I did enjoy this book. It was slightly
The slang in this book was very dated, but it was written in 1969. I enjoyed much of it, but the ending was so out of character for Dan. He wouldn't have just left and not told Joan what was going on with her brother. If he plans on marrying her, knowing what really happened to Larry is an awfully big secret to keep from her for the rest of his life, and he is too honest to carry it off. Besides, how would he ever explain how he ended up in California without implicating Larry, or making himself ...more
Robin Conley
Lois Duncan is always a reliable YA read. The stories aren't generally amazing, but they are a good, solid read that will keep you interested, and this book is no different. I think the thing that always kept me interested in Lois Duncan's books is not the characters, but the plot. There is usually some kind of twist at the end, though as I get older I'm finding the twist is less and less impressive. It is still a good story, but based on the last two Duncan books I've read, age really kills the ...more
Sukie Viars
I like few of the characters but I kind of wish this book wasn't too sexist and too simple. It was quite easy to figure out what happen to the two boys on their mountain trail once we discovered Larry or Lance owns someone two thousand dollars, and we can kind of figured out who is the two brothers in California. The plot was eh. Not enough twists/turns. Some of it seem pretty unrealistic. There should have been more drastic measures, but it was a little bit childish. I did enjoy Joan, Dan, and ...more
Lindsay Robertson
This novel follows Joan, a senior in high school, as she tries to cope with the loss of her brother and boyfriend to a storm in the mountains. As the resignation sets in, Joan receives a call that suggests that there may have been some shady circumstances involving the disappearance of the boys who might be alive.

Fast-paced and steeped in intrigue, They Never Came Home delivers the classic elements of suspense without the blood, guts, and gore that turn many people off of the genre. With many n
Jimbo Pantas
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

Far from what I expected, They Never Came Home by Lois Duncan is a mediocre, predictable thriller with uninteresting, two-dimensional characters in a plot that showed promise at first but eventually grew tiring and ended in a letdown. This book swelled into a balloon, but as quickly as it did, it never exploded. Its air whistled out painfully gradually until it's nothing but an exhausted, baggy piece of rubber. Maybe because I raised my hopes too high, being a huge Dunca
Sep 10, 2011 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I think this was one of Lois Duncan's earliest books. It feels like it, partly because it's very dated--there's a lot about dating and relationships that is very 1960s (steadies, calling around for a date for the dance, running with crowds). It's actually a little slow, and the plot revolves around a kid who's in some very dated trouble.

Honestly, I was going to give it two stars, but that dated trouble is just what dragged it back up to three. Because there are some FABULOUS rants about "dope fi
Sep 14, 2007 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleased to find a paperback of this in a thrift store, because it's one of the few Lois Duncans that hasn't been available in the libraries I've visited. Now I see why: it is HILARIOUSLY old-fashioned, and they probably only reprinted it when the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movie came out. It was written in 1969 (before she started getting into the occult/ESP stuff with A Gift of Magic) and has very funny ideas about The Dangers of Marijuana. It's genuinely suspenseful for most of th ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Elle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just read it and it was great. It was copy written in 1969 but though the lack of technology, it reads as timeless. It was a wonderful read that kept me riveted throughout. I didn't even think that I was going to like it. I didn't like it. I loved it.

Joan Drayfus' boyfriend and brother went for a hike. They never came back. Her mother is in a fragile state and everyone is mourning their death. It's easier to put the tragedy behind her. But there is a call and a man wants something that was owe
Kay Schenkel
Jan 23, 2016 Kay Schenkel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: enjoyment
I read this book as part of Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reading Challenge. One of the categories wanted you to read a book you've read before. I'm not a re-reader. There are too many new books I want to read. This book was one that I read as a teen and it's stuck with me since then. I decided to read it again to see what I thought of it now. Though the storyline is dated, I still enjoyed the read. The ending leaves unanswered questions. Like "Go Ask Alice", this is a cautionary tale about the evils of d ...more
Amy Hunter
I was struck with a bit of nostalgia and picked up a Lois Duncan book at the library this week. I used to love her books and spent many summer days full of suspense through her writing.

Reading this book was a quick and easy read. Not very engaging nor really even believable. The characters were very straight forward and the ending doesn't really finish. For a young adult book it was clean and although it talks of drug use but presents it in a negative way, so I would recommend this author for p
3.5 stars. This book was originally published back in 1979, 35 years ago. I read Lois Duncan when I was a teenager, and thought it would be fun to read her again (books I hadn't read yet). They Never Came Home is about 2 boys that go on a camping trip in the New Mexico mountains and never come home. Their bodies were never found either - so what happened to them? It was a good mystery and plot, although the ending was a little disappointing. The book tackles some adult themes and is thought prov ...more
Although I really like Lois Duncan's novels, this one was not one of my favorites. I didn't like the ending - it was a bit abrupt and left too many questions unanswered - almost like the author just wanted to end the novel rather than deal with some of the issues raised by the sequence of events in the story. Just my opinion, but the story line was intriguing. Picture yourself as a high school teenager whose brother and boyfriend go missing after they go camping for the weekend. How do you think ...more
do you know someone who went somewhere and never came back?you nshould read this book because......if you how it feels to lose someone you really love and thought that they were dead because they never came back form a store or a camping trip,then you know how the draydfus family feels when their son larwance or larry go on a camping trip with his best friend Dan and they get lost and they were supposed to be commimng back monday moring but the two boys never came back family went out looking fo ...more
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Lois Duncan (born Lois Duncan Steinmetz) was an American writer and novelist, known primarily for her books for children and young adults, in particular (and some times controversially considering her young readership) crime thrillers. Duncan's parents were the noted magazine photographers Lois Steinmetz and Joseph Janney Steinmetz. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Saraso ...more
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