Friday, August 5, 2011

"Killing Mr. Griffin" by Lois Duncan

256 pages

Mr. Griffin is tough on his high school English students. He won't accept late assignments and he never gives As, so group of students decide to get revenge. They're a motley crew: Mark, who originally has the idea, is cold and cunning; David is sweet but insecure; Jeff is outgoing; Betsy will do anything to be popular. Susan is the real misfit, as she is quiet, mousy, and shy and doesn't hang out with the rest of the kids, who are the "in crowd." But she's got a big crush on David, so it's not too hard for him to talk her into helping them with their plot to get back at Mr. Griffin. All they're going to do is kidnap him, take him out in the woods, make them think that they're going to kill him, and make him beg for his life. They aren't really going to hurt him. But of course things go terribly wrong, and the kids end up with a dead body on their hands. No one can agree about what do to--and it soon becomes clear that one member of the group will stop at nothing to keep from getting caught.

I enjoyed the idea of this book and the message behind it, but I didn't really have that much fun reading it. The plot is pretty predictable and the characters fall flat to me, for the most part (with the exception of David's Gram). Also, the specific book that I read was an updated version, which confused me at first because I knew that the book was published in the late 1970s but they were talking about iPods, Google, and DVDs. Even after I realized that the book had been updated, it still seemed odd because other details were old-fashioned (the kids' names, the dialogue, etc). I don't see why they felt the need to update a book like that. It's like they think that kids these days can't concentrate on a book that doesn't have tons of computers, phones, and fancy stuff. That's probably true in some cases, but that doesn't mean we should go around changing all the older books. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox...as I said, this book isn't my favorite but it has some redeeming qualities.

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