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Let's Go Play At The Adams'

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  731 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Surely, it was only a game. In the orderly, pleasant world Barbara inhabited, nice children -- and they were nice children -- didn't hold an adult captive.

But what Barbara didn't count on was the heady effect their new-found freedom would have on the children. Their wealthy parents were away in Europe, and in this rural area of Maryland, the next house was easily a quarter
Paperback, 282 pages
Published August 1980 by Bantam Books (first published 1974)
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Lynette Browning-brock Up until a few years ago, it was common to find paperback copies on Amazon for as little as a penny. I believe the internet's given the book a boost…moreUp until a few years ago, it was common to find paperback copies on Amazon for as little as a penny. I believe the internet's given the book a boost and that people have been snatching up available copies based on word-of-mouth. Keep checking the secondhand markets! I found mine for a quarter at a yard sale so they are still floating around out there!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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mark monday
Apr 08, 2014 mark monday rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't believe in the world of this book, nor in its worldview.


three children and two teens, ages 10 - 17, trap a 20-year old babysitter; over the course of a week, she is repeatedly tortured and raped. in the end, they torture her to death.

I'm not a glass half-full kinda guy. I know that children can often (usually?) have little to no moral compass. more importantly, I know how the world can be a cruel and relentless place; I've seen the horrible things it can inflict on people.
Jun 15, 2011 Flannery rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Flannery by: "Most Disturbing Read" Lists
I like to be shocked. I like that feeling when I’m reading a book and I think to myself, “there’s no way the author is going to go there…oh, my gosh…he’s going there, OH MY GOSH, WE’RE THERE, so far past acceptability.” That’s why I’m trying to make way through a list of books that readers have told me are “the most disturbing book they’ve ever read.” Let’s Go Play At The Adams’ by Mendal Johnson made nearly every list I’ve looked at so it was an obvious choice for me. Comparisons are made betwe ...more
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Hope you get the bejeebers scared out of you!

I have no idea where to begin with my review for this book. It definitely ranks as one of the most frightening, disturbing reads of my life. It is not an easy book to finish, but once started I could not put it down. I had to know how it was all going to end. The terror and tension of the last 50 pages just about did my head in. My heart was racing, I was filled with dread. I felt nauseous. I was consumed with rage. I wept. For pity
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Jun 24, 2013 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it liked it
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: mark monday
Barbara is a 20 year old college student who likes kids and needed some extra money. She agrees to sit with Bobby and Cindy. Little does she know that these dang kids are the demon reborn. They along with 3 of their friends take Barbara hostage. Torture and rape are on the agenda. These kids see it as playing a game. They are the Freedom Five after all. Little bastards.

This book scared the hell out of me. I can see this happening. Kids live in their own world. Some of them don't see their actio
Amanda Lyons
Jun 15, 2010 Amanda Lyons rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Let's Go Play at the Adams' is a book that is dark, cold and yet infinitely readable. It stands as a strange and utterly true testament to the uniquely separate mind children have from adults and the dark nature we so quickly forget when we grow out of it. The simple rules we follow as children can seem innocent and wondering to us as adults but we rarely see how that way of thought can be changed and manipulated into being something far darker and very, very, calculating. Forgetting this then i ...more
Is there anything more scary than evil children? Maybe, but not in my opinion. Children are supposed to be the epitome of innocence and everything that's good in the world so when they do something horrific and psychotic that is something that I just can't comprehend. I know it happens. I know children like that exist, but it's a thought that I usually try to push out of my mind. A book like this shoves it right back. Do I believe that all children are like the ones depicted in this book? No. Do ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark's review reminded me of this notorious book. I remember leafing through it at a bookshop when it came out in the 70s and ending up reading quite a lot of it. I'm trying to recall if I found the story believable or not (Mark doesn't believe it). I was a teen at the time, about as old as the older kids in the book.

I don't think it seemed that implausible. The author appeared to be saying: actually, it's pretty easy for the right social pressures to turn normal kids into psychopaths. Well, why
Jan 17, 2011 Jules rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
...or let's not!!!

I read this book as a young teenager. I found this to be a disturbing read that has stayed with me to this day!

The thing that gets me every time, is that I repeatedly forget it was based on a real event, until I click on it on Goodreads, and see one of my friend's reviews directly below mine, reminding me of this fact.

I still have my paperback copy, and wonder if one day I will dare to read it again. As I've read a lot of horror and dark psychological thrillers since reading th
Joseph D'Lacey
Nov 19, 2009 Joseph D'Lacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those of you with your fingers on the Horror Reanimated pulse – er, I mean flatline – will know I rarely review books. However, every now and again something truly unique comes along. Mendal Johnson’s Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ is one of those books.

It’s difficult to attract attention to a novel without ruining its mystique but that’s my aim with this post. This is an unmissable read.
1974 was a good year for horror. Carrie was published and so was this little frightener. One of the authors went
Alisha Marie
Aug 05, 2010 Alisha Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, tearjerkers
I really have no idea what to rate this. I mean, Let's Go Play at the Adams is one book that I truly regret reading. I'm intentionally ignoring Twilight and Companions of the Night (they were two of the worst books I've ever read) because those really didn't make me feel physically ill while reading them. Let's Go Play at the Adams did. I don't regret reading it because it was terribly written or because it was complete and utter crap, but rather because it was just so disturbing and horrifying. ...more
Barbara was an attractive 20 year old competitive swimmer whose summer job was to baby-sit the Adams’ children, Cindy (age 10) and Bobby (age 13), while their parents are away for 10 days. Efficient and proper, Barbara likes and is liked by everybody, young and old. Barbara’s proper world turned seriously wrong when she woke up one morning to find herself tied to the bed, under the mercy of the Freedom Five. The Freedom Five composes of Cindy and Bobby, John Randall (almost 17), Paul McVeigh (ag ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Grady Hendrix
Mar 27, 2017 Grady Hendrix rated it it was amazing
Quality literature or exploitative crap? Who knows, but this WASP horror novel about nice suburban kids torturing their babysitter is an experience that sticks with you, for better or worse. "Goodness, go out of the world."
Jun 07, 2012 Laima rated it it was amazing
Let's Go Play At The Adams' by Mendal W.Johnson

This is one of the most frightening horror stories I have ever read.

It is a profoundly disturbing tale of 5 kids who capture their babysitter, tie her up and torture her. They have the imagination, the means and lack of other adult supervision to carry out their macabre game. To them, this is only a game. Barbara, the 20 year old babysitter, does not take the kids seriously at first but quickly realizes that they are not so innocent and want to win
Jun 08, 2017 Addy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If u want to live in a world where no good or kindness lives, read this book! I still like Ketchum's better, however, Johnson's vision for what goes on in a victim's mind is pretty spot on. I do admit that these descriptions bored me a bit but somehow he was able to grab me back in so kudos for that! The ending was a bit shocking and definitely un-put-down-able. Make sure u have time to just sit down for the last four chapters. A lot went down in this book that I will have to reread it at some p ...more
Rebecca McNutt
May 20, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it liked it
Run-of-the-mill "evil children" plot, sort of a combo of Child's Play, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny And Girly and Communion, but it was well-written and entertaining for the most part, with some surprising and chilling moments that sort of creep up when you least expect it to happen.
Feb 19, 2010 LinBee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2010-2011
This book was, understandably, hard to read. Not only due to the torture and other things done to poor Barbara, but the author goes into the depths of the children's and their captures psyche. Explaining why they did it, and Barbara as she slowly breaks down with each passing day. Not to be taken lightly, it is a reflection on what human beings are capable of doing to other human beings...just because they can.
And THAT'S why I don't have children. :)
Nathan Robinson
Nov 25, 2012 Nathan Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

First published in 1974 and based on the real life murder of Sylvia Likens, Let’s go play at the Adams’ seems like a great horror novel that never achieved the success it deserved. I for one had never heard of it until a month ago, perhaps because Mendal Johnson only ever had one book published and died soon after, leaving behind a handful of unfinished and since still unpublished manuscripts.
Let’s go play at the Adams’ involves twenty year old Barbara, hired to baby sit the rich and seemingly w
Mar 18, 2010 Tammy rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, ill
This was a great read and is hard to get out of your mind. Of course, one cannot help but compare it to The Girl Next Door. I found the children in LGPATA to be less menacing (other than the psycho Paul)than the horrible family in TGND. I also thought LGPATA was less horrifying because Barbara (the babysitter) maintains her humanity throughout the book, the poor girl in TGND was reduced to a submissive, heart-breaking shell.
Aug 28, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
I heard about this book from numerous "most disturbing books" lists. About half way through I thought I was going to be disappointed and then it suddenly turned into a very dark and haunting story. Great read!!!!
Kelly B
Horrific. One of the hardest (emotionally) books I've read. Yet, it's brilliantly written, and makes you think (depressing, dark thoughts;-).
Feb 04, 2017 Michael rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that always end up on someone's top ten list of great horror novels, but I could never get my hands on a copy. One look at the going price for a battered uses copy is insane. Is this book really that good? I was on my library app and saw that one of the libraries my local branch partners with had one so I put a hold on it and waited for it too arrive. I would soon find out if all the hype was truly deserved.

As soon as it arrived, I ran to the library and with shaking
Paul Hayes
Mar 09, 2010 Paul Hayes rated it it was amazing
I think those who approach this book expecting shock a minute, "torture porn" on the level of The Girl Next Door will come away realizing they've mistakenly gone down a far darker path. Not to say there isn't torture, but it seems almost an aside to the true horror of individual logic and morality subsumed by that of the group. The omniscient tone of the narrator twists the needle under the fingernail of the reader, expounding on the reasoning of the participants in this "game".

This book is pro
Apr 18, 2009 Dreadlocksmile rated it it was amazing
A novel that claims on its cover to be "more terrifying than Lord Of The Flies & The Exorcist combined". I picked this novel up having never heard of Mendal Johnson before, but I thought that I would give it a go. And how glad I was to do that. This horror tale will engulf you from start to finish with an incredible degree of suspension that will end up harrowing you as it brings you to its deeply disturbing climax. A novel well worthy of the five stars I have given it.
Jun 10, 2010 jaimie rated it it was amazing
alli will say about this book is this: my mom had a copy when i was maybe 12. i loved books and used to sneak her books off the shelves and read them in secret. lets go play was one of the first adult novels i ever read, and it haunted me until i was in my 40's. i finally hunted down a copy and omg it was just as disturbing. my daughter read it as well, and she still names it as one of her most disturbing.
Will Errickson
Jan 12, 2012 Will Errickson rated it it was ok
Out of print '70s cult novel is a fictionalized version of the horrifying Sylvia Likens murder. Literate, merciless, but not nearly as disturbing as I'd expected (hoped?) it'd be. Not even close to as unsettling as Jack Ketchum's novel about the same case, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. The "climax," such as it is, burns cold and true. Mostly interesting as a sort of misanthropic political allegory.
Jan 21, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is all kinds of effed up. Read it as a teen in the 80's, and it troubled and disturbed me, but in a way that I...? Liked? Not liked, but in a way that I sought out, if only for the shock value. Still think about it to this day. Might have to do a reread just to see if my adult mind still finds it as shocking.
Jul 16, 2008 Erzebetdahmer rated it it was amazing
A bit slow at first, but picks up quickly. Many ppl have considered this to be one of the most disturbing books out there. It's about a group of kids that decide to hold the babysitter hostage for a week or so and to torture her. Sounds tame, right? It's not.
This is the book you really wish you hadn't read.
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