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The Lost


Jack Ketchum

The Lost
average rating is 3 out of 5

Horror, Crime, Extreme, Thriller

R. Alex Jenkins

The title of this book says it all, we're all lost in some way or another, ultimately doomed and hopeless. There are no happy endings and no-one comes off better than anyone else, I totally get it.

But this is not the standard I was expecting from Jack Ketchum, who wrote two very engrossing and shocking books in the 1980s - The Girl Next Door and Off Season, followed by a really good sequel to Off Season, Offspring.

Because of its ranking on Goodreads, The Lost would is a sure-fire continuation of extreme and disturbing literature, right, and while it hits these heights in places, it never gets going, instead trudging through character development chapter after chapter until at 80%, expecting a massive finale to satisfy that craving, it fails to deliver.

It's too reflective and indulgent, with constant references to bygone musicians, TV shows and movies from the 1950s and 1960s as a throwback to memory lane. It has an odd mixture of historical events and personalities, such as Woodstock, the Spahn Ranch and Charles Manson, in an attempt to weave these realities into a fantasy narrative about murderous young adults living in a small town.

The Lost feels a bit corny in places!

The characters are still great though. You get to know them well and enjoy their indulgences in sex, drugs and rock and roll, but there's also a weird lack of tension because of the yearning for the past as though Jack Ketchum doesn't seem to know what he wants from The Lost, other than to tell us we're all doomed.

The message becomes increasingly confusing as the worst character in the book, Ray Pye, is humanized at one point as a regular guy with desires and feelings like everyone else. By the end, I didn't know whether to like him or despise him.

The main issue with The Lost is the over-extensive character building and low payoff as you feel next to nothing for anyone. This isn't an important Jack Ketchum book, but definitely worth a read if you like his early work, just not in the same extreme-horror ballpark.

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