Kirsten's Reviews > Lost Boy Lost Girl

Lost Boy Lost Girl by Peter Straub
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's review
Mar 15, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: from-library, read-pre-12-07, fiction
Read from July 10 to 13, 2010 , read count: 2

Ok, so this is definitely a book that improves with re-reading. When I first read it, I only rated it three stars. This time, it blew me away! I had forgotten how creepy and atmospheric the novel is, particularly several scenes inside and abandoned (and possibly haunted) house. Last night I had to put it down to go to sleep during a particularly creepy bit, and I actually found myself turning off the light and then immediately pulling the covers over my head because I was feeling so spooked. Gave me weird dreams, too.

One of the things that's interesting about this book is that in the end it's left up to interpretation whether anything supernatural has actually occurred or not. The only "confirmation" of the supernatural comes from the protagonist's journal, and thus could be a lie or a defense mechanism. I prefer the supernatural explanation, but I do love the ambiguity. Straub uses techniques here that he expands upon in A Dark Matter, but overall I think this might be the stronger book.

Definitely recommended for anyone who likes horror but also doesn't mind a non-linear narrative, and also recommended for those who like an unconventional (possibly) haunted house story.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Charlotte Don't see how it's up to interpretation whether or not anything supernatural has happened. I mean Mark keeps seeing ghosts. The girl at the end whose name escapes me is invisible. The weird emails after Mark 'dies.' I would very much like to believe that nothing supernatural happened, but I am not convinced. Would you care to explain your view that it is ambiguous?

Charlotte [[p.s. Rereading, that comment sounded a bit hostile. Sorry about that. I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, I just want to hear your views. xP]]

Kirsten *Warning to others: spoileriffic!*

If you think about it (and if you read the book "straight" without assuming that since it's by a horror author there are supernatural elements), the only evidence we have that anything supernatural happened are the parts from Mark's point of view, and the weird email at the end. Mark believes he's seeing ghosts, but no one else ever sees them, and much of what he encounters could also be chalked up to the killer who's lurking around. There's also some ambiguity about the bodies that are dug up at the end; we get Mark's father standing there denying that his son could be there, but is his father working within reality? What's kind of nifty is that no one in the book is a reliable narrator, because everyone is stricken with grief. And Tim Underhill is a writer, and freely admits that he might be capable of distorting or re-writing reality. There's a wistfulness in the end that could almost have me believing that Underhill himself had invented the details of what happened to Mark, because he was unable to face a senseless death.
I don't REALLY think that there were no supernatural elements in the book, because it takes more mental contortion to assume that there weren't than to assume that there were. But I do think Straub purposefully injects some uncertainty, particularly in light of his recurring obsession with authorship and bending reality in his novels.

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