A Mad, Bad, Twisted World (Ransom – A Book Review)

Author: Lois Duncan
Published: 1966

On Goodreads


My Rating: 

Rated D for dangerous means to do whatever it takes to survive.

The lives of five captives hang in the balance while their families gather the ransom.

Two brothers, a loner, an army brat, and the popular cheerleader are kidnapped but can their families raise enough money to get them back? Time is not on anyone’s side.

While the parents of the kids work to get them back, the kids work on a plan to get free of their captors. Each of their true colors come to light during this trying and scary time and then it becomes a question of who’s willing to do whatever it takes and who is more dangerous? The kids or the captors?

Duncan has always impressed me with her stories. I find them thrilling and quaint and there’s always something to take away from them. This one is no different. There’s something to be said about discovering how much love your family has for you and the lengths they’ll go to for you, not to mention how much love you have for them. This story did well in expressing that as well as bringing the thrill only she can in such a way that I can describe as classic. Classic 90s that is, and I love that about it too. It’s an entity all its own.


Each family versus each captive shows such drastic differences in character and growth the dynamics are wild. While the popular kid’s sociopathic side shows more and more, I have to wonder if he’ll be the next criminal, the loner is the one that acts as a hero, trying to help the others also held captive. It was engaging and totally freaky. Yet, it was this aspect that really made the book for me, not waiting and wondering when the kids would be okay.

Getting to really know those around you that circulate your life and realizing that you may not know everything about them like you thought you did is at the forefront of this book. It’s not like some of Duncan’s other novels like Summer of Fear (book review) or Down A Dark Hall (book review) where there’s a layer of supernatural over top of the story. This one is sheer thriller.


This is a tricky one to determine for me. On an entertaining level, I just wasn’t feeling it, but I was really enthralled with the characters and the way Duncan really delved into their true natures. It’s so intriguing. So this book split down the middle for me. Not bad but not really something I got super into.


“I asked you to be my friend? I’m revoking the offer. With you as a friend, I wouldn’t need any enemies.” (Glenn, p. 72)

“I’ve heard symphonies written by blind composers and seen cathedrals designed by dying artists, and none of them was a cripple, one of them! It’s bitterness that makes a person a cripple, bitterness and meanness and smallness! It’s an emptiness inside them, not anything to do with their bodies! (Jesse to Dexter, p. 159)

“…everybody isn’t the way we wish we they were. Everybody has faults…” (p. 171)

More to come soon…                                                                                                


P.S. Song today? Give a Little More by Maroon 5.

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