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Novels > Let's Go Play at the Adams' ***SPOILERS***

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message 1: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I couldn't put this book down. I spent 7 hours bored to tears in a hospital waiting room and was able to read 3/4 of this book almost in a sitting.

I am wrung out from this book! I thought I'd never read anything more harrowing than The Girl Next Door, but IMO this beats it by a mile.

There were so many sad and philosophical parts to this book. I almost cried when Barbara was trussed up and dragged to the extra house, and when she was thrown on the floor she tried to rest her head on John's leg and he shook her off. Just a human being seeking comfort from a fellow human being in a moment of pain.

And the way she scrambled at the end but finally accepted her own death. It was hard to be inside Barbara's head during the last few hours of her life...when Diane washed and brushed her hair, and when John raped her for a second time. And when he became bored and distant she realized he was thinking hours and days into his own future, and it hit her that she wasn't going to have one.

Her death was more brutal than I imagined it would be. Paul was a little sociopath, and Cindy was on her way to becoming one.


message 2: by Shaun (new)

Shaun (shaunjeffrey) | 245 comments Well you sold me on it. Just ordered a copy.


message 3: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments You should read Joseph D'Lacey's review of it here on GR. He makes it really interesting.




message 4: by Bunny (new)

Bunny (bunnycates) | 93 comments I would love to read this, if anyone is interested in a "loan"/"swap". :)


message 5: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Hey, Bunny. Since I paid $16 for my paperback copy it ain't goin' nowhere. :-) Some others here ordered it much cheaper or found it at a used bookstore. I originally got a copy through my library's ILL dept.

I'd love for others to read it and discuss. It's an amazing book.


message 6: by Bunny (last edited Mar 07, 2010 01:22PM) (new)

Bunny (bunnycates) | 93 comments I've been googling. The cheapest I can find is a used library copy for $22. I can't make myself pay that for a paperback. Im such a hardback snob. LOL!!! Thanks for posting about it though, I have never heard of it before. I am loving this group, for someone who "claims" to be such a horror fan - I sure am seeing a lot of new names and titles!

thanks again.

eta: looks like there are newer releases on amazon for around $5 for paperback. *sigh* I guess ONE paperback wont RUIN my collection. LOL!


message 7: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I know. I searched but that was the cheapest I could find it by going to the places I usually shop at. I'm just glad to have a copy at all.

It's an amazing book. Keep searching for it.

And this group has recommended so many wonderful books and movies to me. I don't know what I ever did without them!


message 8: by Maicie (new)

Maicie | -62 comments I found a copy at a1Books.com for $2.86. Even with the $3.95 shipping it was cheaper than the $20 Amazon wanted (which I ordered but they couldn't fill).


**************SPOILER********************
It's interesting to compare Let's Go Play with The Girl Next Door. Both based on the same criminal case but the writing styles are so different. Let's Go Play was written 30 years ago so the writing wasn't quite as graphic as Ketchum's. Both books creeped me out.


message 9: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Argh! Yet another GRer who got a good deal on this book. It's like a stab in my heart every time I find out.

There are some similarities and differences to each story. What made LGPATA more compelling for me is that we were inside Barbara's head through most of her ordeal.

And the rape scenes, my God, they were some of the most horrible I'd ever read about. Not because of their violence but because of the lack of violence. Sounds weird, I know. But Barbara's first time with a man was with John; and Barbara's last time and first orgasm was with John. It was so heartbreaking.

And with the exception of Paul, the others didn't get some thrill from the abuse. It was more like "We've gone this far, now she's just an imposition. Our parents will be home soon so we're going to have to kill her."

And her last few minutes were excruciating to read about. I get sick when I think of where one of them--probably Paul--put the red hot poker.


message 10: by Maicie (new)

Maicie | -62 comments I agree 100%. The rape in Let's Play was harder to read. Probably because my imagination was involved. The things I imagine are usually worse than what really happened.

Speaking of horror...what's up with Charlize Theron's dress at the academy awards? Were those two giant roses on her boobs?


message 11: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Barbara was a strong, independent woman who was captured by a bunch of kids and worn down over the course of a few weeks. The girl in TGND was born a victim of nature and of neglect, so we didn't get to see the demoralizing process like we did in LGPATA. It wasn't as shocking for me in Ketchum's book.

I stopped watching the Academy Awards back in the early '90s. Got tired of the increasing number of Hollywood award shows. They make millions reading other people's lines, now they have to be patted on the back several times a year?

That dress...looks like two balloons the day after a kid's birthday party.


message 12: by LinBee (new)

LinBee Tressa - I found a great site today called Bookfinder.com. It compares the prices on pretty much all the major book sale sites. That should help you next time. I found one copy for $6.52 total!


message 13: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Thanks, Lin!


message 14: by Lee (new)

Lee | 2502 comments Creepy...yeah. Disturbing...yeah. Revolting what one human being is capable of doing to another...yeah. You'd think I was talking about "The Girl Next Door"! And, to boot, they were kids, young adults. I like how Mr. Johnson pretty much kept the reader in the dark, about their "games" they played when they were younger (that's tough to say ) supposedly with dolls & whatever. The way the kids seemed to be influenced by TV and their fantasies that adults & kids were so different, that they couldn't coexist with one another.
Marcie's comment about written 30+ years ago is very true, being less graphic, but still very effective.

I still have to say TGND was creepier, but this was a wonderful find.


message 15: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments They played similar kidnap/"torture" games on one another, although obviously not to the extent they did with Barbara.

I thought TGND was more graphic, but not creepier by a long shot.

Glad you read it!


message 16: by Lee (new)

Lee | 2502 comments "I thought TGND was more graphic, but not creepier by a long shot".

That's a good way to put it Tressa. It's too bad this was his first & only novel.


message 17: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Yeah, what happened to the author? Did he die or did he fall victim to the old Harper Lee one-book curse?


message 18: by Maicie (new)

Maicie | -62 comments He died in 1976. Let's Go Play was his only published novel but he was working on three others at the time of his death. That's all I could find on the net. Weird.


message 19: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Man. I'd love to read what else he was working on.


message 20: by LinBee (new)

LinBee Just finished this today. It took me awhile. I find it interesting how he worked in the psyche of all of the "players" and went into how they worked. TGND was more graphic, but you only see what goes on in one person's head.

What I found the creepiest is that these kids tortured and killed her, for the most part, just because they could. Ugh.


message 21: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments The reason I liked Adams more than Girl is that we do get inside the victim's head. It's been a while since I read Girl, but isn't it told from the POV of the boy next door?

What turned into an annoyance to Barbara when she woke to find herself tied up snowballed into a nightmare. Didn't you want to kill Paul? What a psycho in the making.

The rapes were the saddest part of the book--her first and last time. :-(


message 22: by LinBee (last edited Mar 31, 2010 01:41PM) (new)

LinBee TGND was told all from the pov of the boy next door, yes. I like each differently.

Yes, Paul was the scariest I think. He definitely had that serial killer in the making feel. His sister wasn't much better though, she encouraged him too much. I think because she was worried about his mental state, but she fed the fire.

Yeah, the rapes were sad. Her first and last, at least the last was better than the first. But that is horrible to have that happen. And to find out Diane wouldn't help her wash herself because she probably knew the final outcome...ugh. Disturbing.


message 23: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments The ending of Adams was very disturbing. The indifference as well as the torture.


message 24: by LinBee (new)

LinBee It was. All that for...nothing really. Because they could...just to see what would happen...


message 25: by Anna (new)

Anna (stregamari) | 252 comments Tressa wrote: "I couldn't put this book down. I spent 7 hours bored to tears in a hospital waiting room and was able to read 3/4 of this book almost in a sitting.

I am wrung out from this book! I thought I'd n..."


That was horrifying, and very heartbreaking. The distance at the end "the subject wasn't interesting any longer, quit jumping and reacting, so they got bored, and just killed her". Yeah, so emotional


message 26: by Shaun (last edited Apr 05, 2010 08:16AM) (new)

Shaun (shaunjeffrey) | 245 comments Second book in a row I haven't been able to finish :( The story didn't grab me at all. I reached about page 90 before I gave up. By that time, nothing had happened apart from Barbara was chained to the bed and the kids were keeping watch on her while alternating going for a swim. Nothing about it made me want to keep reading, as I didn't feel anything for Barbara to be bothered enough to find out what happened to her. The style of writing also had me re-reading some sentences, which really drags the story down for me.

I now need to search my unread books for something that's going to keep me engaged.


message 27: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Didn't feel anything for Barbara? That is some cold heart you're housing.

You sound like my friend who couldn't finish Martyrs and A Tale of Two Cities because the beginnings were "boring." He just didn't give himself enough time to get to the good parts!


message 28: by Shaun (new)

Shaun (shaunjeffrey) | 245 comments Perhaps I've been immersed in writing warped, fictional scenes for so long, it takes a lot to get to me (I used to write some pretty intense - some would say sick - fiction, but I've calmed down a lot now). But if the good parts take that long to get to (90 pages was about a third of the way into the book), then I've lost interest. Sorry :(


message 29: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments When I'm reading a slasher book then I want the writer to get to the slashing ASAP. When I'm reading other genres I enjoy the teasing buildup to the good parts. Well worth it.

Sorry you didn't enjoy it. I myself went through a reading slump lately but got back on track with Lansdale's Nightrunners.


message 30: by LinBee (new)

LinBee It was very hard to get through, I had to keep coming back to it. I almost gave up, but found when I started skimming that it went faster. It was rather boring in parts, but you have to get past the first half. Then it picks up a little bit.


message 31: by Tressa (last edited Apr 05, 2010 08:40AM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I ate up every word of this book, but do understand that the long, setting-up passages at the beginning and in the middle might call for some skimming if the reader is really not into the book.

This book can't just jump into the horror of the second half because it takes that much time to introduce the characters and events to understand how a group of wealthy children could be bored or presumptuous enough to pull off such a horrible act.


message 32: by Anna (new)

Anna (stregamari) | 252 comments The systematic de-humanization was the worst part, and therefore the "slowest" part. At first just the small "indignities", then removing her clothes, escalating to the tortures, rapes and death. Made me wonder if I could ever do something that bad. nah. and look at people differently


message 33: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Right. That was the slowest part because it had to be. I guess the author was trying to show that these "good" kids could take a simple idea--a game, if you will--and run with it until it explodes into such indifference and violence.

By the middle of the book and the end, Barbara had ceased to be a person. She was an inconvenience they had to maneuver around; she was an it to be used for their own experiments in how far they were personally willing to go.

I think it's a great book.


message 34: by Alisha Marie (new)

Alisha Marie (endlesswonderofreading) | 1 comments Delurking to say that I just finished this book like a half hour ago and I'm a total mess. I just thought it was so disturbing. I have read The Girl Next Door and found it a little less horrifying because you had an adult in that situation so the children were sort of feeding off her frenzy. However in Let's Go Play at the Adams, the children do this with no prompting from an adult, just because they wanted to. This is sort of one book that I regret reading...


message 35: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments It's certainly a book you won't soon forget. I read it last year it still resonates with me.

The most disturbing part for me was Barbara's rape. It wasn't done with rage and violence, but gentleness. This woman who had her whole life ahead of her in terms of courting, dating, marrying, and possibly having children, had her first and last time with this teen, and her first orgasm. It hurts me to think about it.

The ending was horrific, what they did to her. Her night hogtied in the boat house signified that she was not going to be allowed to die a painless death.

So sad this is the author's only book. Imagine the other novels he would have written.


message 36: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Galstere (ThenewAmericanPsycho) | 219 comments i bought this book, i had to order it from a used book store that specializes in used books, tressa recommended it, and it was amazing!!! i don't say that about books a lot...


message 37: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Hey, glad you "enjoyed" it. Very disturbing.


message 38: by Trace (last edited Aug 09, 2010 05:42PM) (new)

Trace (trace_is_ace) | 107 comments I would love to read this one too but atm am out of book cash. I would be willing to swap too. I have a list of books I would be ready to swap if anyone is interested!! The catch is yes I do live in Australia but I thought maybe we both pay the individual postage to get the book there. Make sense?


message 39: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 4052 comments 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 (age 13), and his sister Dianne (age 18).

While watching the children for the first four days, prim and proper, beautiful and athletic Barbara became the object of eroticism for the children. They have fallen in love with her, a love that is filled with resentment against Barbara’s assuming of the adult role. They fantasized about the games they would play with her. Games that involved imprisoning and possessing the object of their eroticism, an object that is also a symbol of adult control. After four days, they imprisoned her in a game of their own making. They did it because they wanted to know that it can be done. They wanted to know that it is possible to reverse the adult/child, warden/ward roles, in which the “adult” does the punishing/reward if the “child” behaves accordingly. When Barbara asked Bobby “Why?” did they do it. He answered because “it’d be fun,” in the way young children can answer, unreflecting, unsympathetic and egocentric.

As the children became more powerful and Barbara became more objectified, the children changed in disturbing ways. As Barbara thought:

“OK, I am their new toy. Like Terry said. I walk, I talk when they let me. They can move my arms and legs. They can even dress and undress me if they want. But how do they play with dolls?”

the children planned more destructive ways to play with their toy. As Barbara contemplated the children’s innocent play with their toys, each innocent play became deadly and sinister when she puts herself in the place of their toys. Barbara’s belief in the order of the adult hierarchy slowly unravelled as it became clear that the children were only following rules that are clear to their children minds, as the line between play and real blurs.

As Barbara became further degraded and objectified by the children, she became a different object for each children. She was an object of nurture but became an object of blame for Cindy, a duty for Bobby; an object to study the effect of torture for Paul, an object of lust for John, and an object of jealousy for Dianne. The further Barbara became objectified, the deeper the children transitionned into their cruel roles. Cindy became more vengeful; Bobby became coldly efficient; Paul became sociopathic; John gave in to his lust; and Dianne seized her leadership role like a cold tyrant.

Through this frightening transition, the author never let us lose sight that they are still children, that their cruelties were because of their innocent children’s mind, the reasoning distorted by their children’s fantasies and fancies. This made them deadlier in that they cannot be persuaded by adult logic. The idea of having another person’s life to control and even to kill became a fascination for the children. In their simplified observation of the adult world, they see the killer doing the killing because he could, done to a person who cannot stop it. Seen as a natural order of life, the children discounted any morality involved in the taking of a human life.

In the end, this is nothing more than a game for the children. It is a game in which somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. When the children see that the end result is that the winner be either them or their prisoner Barbara, the children made their decision accordingly.

This disturbing book was written with mastery, like a virtuoso playing a psychological piano. I’m glad I purchased this in hardback. It will go on my shelf as a prized and deeply probing book. I wish Mendal W. Johnson had written more book. I would have liked to read more of his sensitive style of writing.


message 40: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I can't believe they got away with it.


message 41: by Aloha (last edited Sep 12, 2010 08:23AM) (new)

Aloha | 4052 comments The book brings up the question of whether life is chaos, as in there is no moral order, as much as we'd like to think of such things as karmic law and justice.


message 42: by Aloha (last edited Sep 12, 2010 08:29AM) (new)

Aloha | 4052 comments Another question I had which I forgot to put in my review was the nature of morality. The book seems to suggest that morality is learned, not inherent. The children's undeveloped morality made them be insensitive and a law unto themselves.


message 43: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I can remember being crueler as a child. Therefore, I never, ever think any heinous act is beyond a child, and am shocked that others do. Don't they remember being a child? I don't think I would have ever kidnapped and murdered a person, but I can see myself being sucked in by peer pressure and taking something too far. Thank God I never did.

What was the worst part for you? The worst part for me--and I covered this in my posts above--was Barbara's rape. This might sound awful, but I never see rape as horrible compared to losing a life. However, the two rapes in Adams really bothered me, because it was Barbara's first time and in the second rape it was her first--and last--orgasm. That really bothered me she had to share something so personal and wonderful with him.

The two other scenes that bothered me were when she was left tied in the boat house and ceased to be a human at all, and when they finally killed her with the metal pokers. It didn't have to be done that way. What was it Diane told her when she was cleaning her in the boat house right before her death? Something like she shouldn't expect for it to be painless. Wish I could remember. Might have to dig my book out since the details aren't as fresh. I think I hated Diane the most.


message 44: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie Has anyone every bought a book listed under "Unknown Binding" ? Amazon has this book for .01 list there.


message 45: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Tressa wrote: "I can remember being crueler as a child. Therefore, I never, ever think any heinous act is beyond a child, and am shocked that others do. Don't they remember being a child? I don't think I would ha..."

Yeah that second time was even rougher in my mind than the first. I kept hoping Bobby would grow a pair and help her even though I know it couldn't happen the way the book was written.

I thought of the psycho little boy as being the worst though because he'll clearly have a strong chance of continuing and progressing as an adult. Don't get me wrong , the fact that Diane enables him makes me think of the mother in The Girl Next Door that she could keep the whole group going on like this. I just find him more chilling because he would be that with or without her.


message 46: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 4052 comments The worst part for me was when they put the hot pokers in her. If it was a matter of a game in which they wanted to win and her living meant that they would lose, then why inflict torture on her? What is the purpose of that in the game? Then the only reasoning would be that they did it because they could. Which makes it total anarchy, and does not even match the rules of their game.


message 47: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 4052 comments Bobbie, I don't think that would make too much of a difference unless you're a book collector and you're persnickety about the type of binding your book has.


message 48: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie I'll think I give it a go, I'm not a collector or picky I just want to read this book ever since Marisella recommended it but I have never paid a high price for any book LOL and dont intend to but 1 cent + shipping thats in my price range LOL


message 49: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie Ok I just ordered my copy
If I dont like it and it is not in bad shape it has a good resale value LOL


message 50: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Bobbie, I hope you didn't read all the spoilers here.

From the first description of Paul, I knew he'd be a little psycho and probably carry his evilness on into adulthood. Those nuts are a dime a dozen. More frightening to me are the other four who will grow up, graduate, go to college or get married, have jobs or be housewives, and have some children--all this occurring with the murder in their history. They may never hurt another soul again, but it's chilling to know that they could carry on like fine upstanding citizens knowing what they did, and it doesn't affect them.


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