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review & discussion: “locked in time” February 24, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Hi, everyone! It’s time for another first-read/re-read challenge between me and Mandy from Edge of Seventeen! This time our selection is one of my favs — “Locked In Time” from Lois Duncan.

Here’s how the book club works. I’ve got a review, some questions Mandy and I emailed about, and at the end of the post is a chance to win your own copy of the book. Then, head over to Mandy’s post to see her review, the rest of our discussion and enter again to win a chance for the book!


Nore comes home after a year at boarding school following the death of her mother. But Louisiana isn’t really Nore’s home, it’s home to her father and his new family – stepmother Lisette, and stepsiblings Gabe and Josie. Her new family welcomes with what appears to be open arms…but it doesn’t take Nore long to start to suspect that something fishy is going on in the house around her – and more specifically, with her new step-family.

I went through a really big Lois Duncan phase when I was a tweenager. My library had only two little turnstile shelving units for teen books and I read all of them. Which meant I read every Lois Duncan, Lurlene McDaniel, and whatever Apple Paperbacks were on the shelves. I was probably too young for the books because I was always jumpy after reading a Lois Duncan book.

This book creeped me out so bad – I distinctly remember having nightmares about being buried alive. You can imagine that reading this book as an adult had me shaking my head about why I had been so scared. First of all, Nore is never buried alive! (She does spend some time in a cemetery though…which I might have chalked up to being buried.) The ending still wound up giving me the shivers because the climactic scene involves one of my worst fears ever and poor Nore has to experience it!

Even though the book didn’t scare me nearly as much, this time around I feel like I appreciated the book’s setting and descriptions more than I used to. I had actually forgotten that the book took place in Louisiana!

I love Nore as a character, she’s smart and doesn’t shrug off her suspicions. She’s got this minor superpower (always knowing what time it is) that winds up coming in handy quite a few times. Also, she only takes matters into her own hands when the adults in her life refuse to listen to her. Which is SO refreshing compared to what teens in books do now-a-days! (Yikes, I’m sounding old.)

Lisette is this totally old-fashioned, manners and etiquette mother and I remember rolling my eyes at her all the time. Still wound up doing that during this re-read. Gabe and Josie were much more tolerable than I remember! Especially Josie. But I wonder if that’s because I know the end of the book or because I’m an adult and can better sympathize with people.

I think my biggest complaint in this re-read is that the ending feels so tacked on and conclusion-y. It almost feels like an older Nore is writing the last chapter (which could be – because she does say that she’s writing down the story), but it actually drew me out of the plot and kind of jarred me. I wanted more falling action, I wanted to find out what happened immediately afterwards instead of years in the future.

All in all, this was definitely a good re-read. It didn’t make me as nervous, but I found new things to appreciate about the book. Now, Little Brown is updating some of Duncan’s books – I know “Killing Mr. Griffin” is the one that she’s working on now. I’d like to see this one updated (removing the cassette tapes!) so that it might get new life on a library shelf. Our mangled paperback copies still see circulation, so I know the teens are still reading.


Katie: What did you think of Josie as part of the story? (I feel almost as if her story is more interesting than Nore’s this re-read. I’d like to see a companion book written from Josie’s point of view, after this story takes place.)

Mandy: It’s neat; I could see Josie in Nore’s role if Nore wasn’t around. Josie is this ambiguous character who wants to do what her mom says because Lisette is a powerful woman, and at the same time Jo also wants to follow her own sense of what’s right. She’s trapped in that rebellious stage at thirteen.

I was surprised when Lisette first drugged Jo so she wouldn’t pitch a fit about Lisette’s actions. It’s when I first thought of Josie as being different than her mother and brother. Gabe didn’t fool me for a minute. But I was constantly surprised by Jo’s actions–I first thought she was just fickle in her affections, but then I realized that she really did have a bond with Nore.

My biggest question about Josie, when I finished the book was, why didn’t her story continue? I felt that it fell into this stagnant pattern after the events at Shadown Grove, and like you, I would have loved to see a sequel. I mean, Josie has this dramatic personality and she never really does anything with it. I’d have love to see her really break out.

Katie: Why do you think stepmothers/stepfamilies always wind up getting such a bad rap in books?

Mandy: I think stepmothers had a worse rap at the time this book was published, versus now. Now, throw a stone and you’ll find an extended family rooted through many step-family members. I have a stepson myself and my partner’s parents are separated so our family has a lot of branches. But I think this type of family network was less accepted even twenty years ago. When I was young, my friends always complained about their “stepmoms”. Maybe now we are more communicative about relationships in the family. I don’t know. I just feel a shift in teen fiction towards the stepmother/father being an okay person. Versus step-parents in teen fiction from the eighties and nineties, where they try to kill you in the book. I’m thinking of the great steps featured in books like King Dork by Frank Portman and Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen.

But evil step-parents are a total trope in storytelling. Moreso the stepmother, I think. Who’s always jealous of your beauty and trying to kill you. Think apples and talking mirrors and housecleaning hardships. Interestingly, the opposite of the evil stepmother in storytelling is the fairy godmother, who’s more of an aunt figure.

Katie: What did you think of the town and the setting?

Mandy: The description in Locked in Time was very well done. It had all the sensations going for it, in the writing, and I loved this deep look into the setting of Shadow Grove.

I don’t think that the Town really sticks out in my mind because the characters didn’t really spend much time there.

My favourite scene, the one that sticks out the most, is the same one that was so powerful for you: the graveyard scene where Nore is hiding and playing that mental memory game with herself to pass the time. She tries to remember one memory from each year of her life, until she can get out of her hiding spot. She keeps it up to calm her nerves and settle her mind and I totally started this exercise too! Just like you. I think it’s kind of a neat thing to do.

But the way this scene is written in the book, I’m not surrpised it held so strongly in your imagination.

Katie: So, did this satisfy your craving for scary? Or did it border on just mildly creepy?

Mandy: It was creepy. Locked in Time creeped me out. But, if I had read this book when I was like twelve or so, I would have found the premise of a dangerous adult as your caregiver a truly frightening scenario. I mean, at that age you are dependent on your caregivers for almost everything. Imagine if one of them was evil and the other one was completely unaware? Chilling.


Both Mandy and I have a copy of the book to give away. Fill out the Google form to enter (all I need is a name and an email)! Twice the chance to win! Good Luck! (Giveaway ends March 10th.)

Click here to go to the Google form to enter for a chance to win!



1. Mariska - February 24, 2010

HAven’t heard about this book before. I’d like to win it !

readwhatyouknow - February 24, 2010

Please fill out the Google form to enter for a chance to win!

2. Shannon O'Donnell - February 25, 2010

Between you and Edge of Seventeen, I totally need to read this book. I’m convinced! 🙂

Thanks for the contest.

3. brizmus - February 25, 2010

Oh, this was such a fun discussion! I’d never heard of it before, but it sounds awesome, and after hearing you girls discuss it, I MUST read it! The form is filled out! 🙂

4. Donna - February 26, 2010

This sounds like a book my daughter would like!

5. Sheila - February 26, 2010

Thanks for having this giveaway—please enter me to win.

readwhatyouknow - February 26, 2010

Please fill out the Google form to enter for a chance to win!

You can find it here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dFNOZzdpQjlXajJ0NTRlVW1QbmNGTXc6MA

6. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - February 27, 2010

This was one of my favourite books as a teen – it’s so great to see the two of you rereading it. I actually reread it last year and for some reason I was more than a little reminded of Twilight. Not sure how I feel about updated versions, but if they help find some new fans for these books that that’s fine by me. Lois Duncan rocks!

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