As an adult that loves YA Lit I have a very odd history with the genre. When I was a teen sometime in the 90s (I am not giving away more than that) I didn’t like YA. I was too mature for those kids books. I jumped straight from Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitters Club to Michael Crichton and John Grisham. However, there was a subset of YA that my teen heart embraced and that was the “Now a Major Motion Picture” or “The Soon to Be Movie of the Week” novel. These were the YA novels I craved, the YA novels I devoured and no one did these books better than the great Lois Duncan.
Her books came to life on the screen and I had to have more of the stories. I had to read about the issues between perfect Laura and the “bad vibes” emanating Lia after watching Stranger with My Face . I needed to know more details of what actually happened to Mr. Griffin on that mountain in Killing Mr. Griffin. Then there was I Know What You Did Last Summer. The book and the movie so very different that it feels like we are actually rewarded with two separate stories.
I realize that these films have received many critiques and criticisms however they perfectly illustrate the wonder that was Lois Duncan’s writing. Duncan was an author that understood how the teen mind works. She understood no only what they wanted to read but what they needed to be entertained. She knew how thrill with a topsy curvy mystery or how to enthrall with a terrifying enemy. She understood the power of creepy noise in the night or a moving figure just outside your peripheral vision. She was the master of making the mundane terrifying and a villain so human but so twisted that they will haunt you for days. It is for all of these reason that it was such a loss to the YA Lit community when Lois Duncan passed away on June 15th. She will be missed but her legacy will never be forgotten.