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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 477 commentaires
214 internautes sur 229 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Grinding Morality Play 1 février 2003
Par Jeffrey Leach - Publié sur
Format: Relié
"The Girl Next Door" is probably Jack Ketchum's most sought after book. I scrambled to pick up a copy when it briefly appeared back in print because buying a used copy requires a second mortgage on the house, signing an agreement to turn over your first born son, and swearing to never resell your copy for less than Bolivia's gross national product. When I finally clutched a fresh new copy in my grimy hands, I was struck with a sudden shudder of fear: is this book worth all the heartache of acquiring a copy? Is it as gruesome as everyone says it is? No, the book is not worth shelling out an insane amount of money for a used copy, but it is an unsettling, gruesome, and soul shattering read.
Jack Ketchum has a tendency to fictionalize real life crime stories. He accomplished this in "Off Season," "Joyride," and here in "The Girl Next Door." In 1960's Indiana, Sylvia Likens and her little sister moved in with Gertrude Baniszewski while their parents went out of town. Baniszewski, her children, and several neighborhood children tortured and eventually murdered Likens over a period of months. At the trial, the children involved in the crime got off with an insignificant punishment, leading to outbursts of rage among the community and anyone with an ounce of moral fiber. In what must surely rank as one of our justice system's lowest moments, Gertrude herself was eventually released from prison, dying peacefully several years later somewhere in Iowa. This case serves as the loose outline for Ketchum's diabolical novel.
Set in the seemingly bucolic era of 1950's America, "The Girl Next Door" starts in the present day with our narrator, David, setting the stage for a flashback to that peaceful time in American history when Ike was in the White House, McCarthy chased Commies out of the State Department, and the biggest fear for most people was the realization that the USSR had the bomb. For David, there is a worse fear from that time, something buried deep in his heart and in his mind that needs telling before it drives him over the brink of sanity. David's childhood was marred by a horrific event, made even more horrific by the fact that he stood by and watched it happen without doing anything to stop the nightmare.
When David was a child, he lived next door to Ruth and her three sons. Everyone in the neighborhood loved to hang out at Ruth's house, even though the father of the children no longer lived there. Ruth allowed the boys who came over to drink some beer, watch TV, and generally goof off. Ruth treated the kids like adults, which impressed David to no end because his own parents do not get along whatsoever. Going to Ruth's is a great way to blow off some steam if you can put up with Ruth's occasional tirades about her worthless ex-husband.
This is Ketchum, so the story gradually moves into realms of unspeakable evil. The trouble starts when Meg Loughlin and her crippled sister Sarah move in with Ruth. Meg and Sarah's parents died in a car accident, and Ruth is the only family they have left. Life is fine at first, but David realizes gradually that Meg is having big problems with Ruth. Ruth gets nasty with Meg, meting out harsh punishments for innocuous behavior. Then Meg and Sarah begin to suffer verbal assaults from Ruth, often times in front of David and other boys in the neighborhood. Ruth's rants begin to take on an insanity and incoherency that frightens David. Ultimately, Meg ends up locked in a bomb shelter in the basement, where the real pain begins. All of the kids in the area participate in the torture and debasement of Meg, overseen by Ruth. The final indignity committed against Ruth is so horrible I refuse to refer to it here.
The violence in the book is horrible and stomach churning, but the cruelty takes a back seat to the moral lessons Ketchum is trying to convey. While reading this book, Hannah Arendt's phrase "the banality of evil" repeatedly came to mind. These people are not monsters springing out of closets or hostile aliens invading the earth. Ruth and the children involved are everyday people caught up in an unexplainable web of heartless and devastating malevolence. Even David is caught up in the unfolding events, although he does not take part in the actual deeds. It is safe to argue that David's role is worse than those who commit the crimes because he knows it is wrong and does nothing to stop them until it is too late. "The Girl Next Door" is not a horror novel per se; it is a morality play. Ketchum draws us into this warped world and forces us to condemn David while at the same time recognizing that we very well might do the same thing if it was us in his shoes.
You will not soon forget this grim and unsettling novel. Ketchum penetrates depths here that he rarely plumbs in his other books. It is a darn shame "The Girl Next Door" is not available in a mass-market paperback edition. Many people want to read it, and an introduction by none other than Stephen King lends a stamp of credibility to the book. Look around for a copy, but think long and hard before shelling out large amounts of dough.
48 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Real-life horror, not for the faint-hearted. 18 avril 2001
Par Craig Larson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I'm not sure I can really add much to the other comments here, some of which are really quite eloquent in their discussions of the book. I bought the old paperback copy of the book, way back, a horrendous thing with a skeleton in a cheerleader's costume on the cover--the art had absolutely nothing to do with the story inside, as I was to discover. This was not the first Ketchum I'd read--that honor went to _Off Season_, which, if you've not read it yet, you owe it to yourself to find immediately. No, I came to _The Girl Next Door_ after I'd read a few more Ketchum titles, and I was still totally unprepared.

This is easily the most gripping, horrifying, impossible-to-stop-reading book I've ever had in my hands. At the end, I felt so dirty, so complicit in the experience of reading that I threw away the book. Now, that's not a comment on the book or the quality of Mr. Ketchum's writing. On second thought, maybe it is--I've never been in the hands of someone so brutally honest, so able to force me to endure such a horrifying experience as the story he chronicles. This is not a feel-good experience. This is not one of those books where good triumphs over evil. You should not read this book if you're looking for a reassuring, light, easy read.

But if you're ready to look into the dark heart of human evil, this may be the book for you. It is truly a great book--an excellent novel with memorable characters and spot-on writing. But the story is not one you'll shake off easily. It really is something akin to driving slowly by the scene of an accident--you want to see what happened, while at the same time, you dread seeing what happened. If you feel up to the experience, give this one a try.
22 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
All Evil Needs to Succeed... 17 novembre 2007
Par Michelle R - Publié sur
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
All evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing. Most of us have heard that expression. It's a call to action, really. However, if people lived that principle, there would be no need for the expression.

The reality of human is nature is that, unfortunately, if the circumstances are right, not only will good people do nothing -- they will participate.

Humans don't want to hear that they could do monstrous things or have monstrous things down to them if the situation is right, but history proves it, and the breadth of evidence is irrefutable.

Nazi Germany, Milgrim Experiment, Abu Ghraib...

This story takes you in the mind of a young boy who is pulled into this group think, and allows bad things to happen to someone he had started to care about. It gets into his head and shows how his own sense of powerlessness, his willingness to objectify this girl, his need to see her as "other," allows him to allow the unspeakable.

One of the two star reviews states the first 100 pages don't matter, but this is only if you come into it as a voyeur. Those first pages show the lead character as being a good kid, they show his genuine regard for someone he will allow to be harmed, they make sure that you can never fully lose sight of the sweetness and innocence of Meg. The books essential nature would have changed without it, and David could have been too easily dismissed as having been a monster.

And that misses the point.

Some of the other low reviews seem to punish the story for being true to its genre. Granted, there are some horror novelists who lean toward happier endings -- they give you the whole roller coaster ride, but nobody (at least no one you can about) will be harmed in the end. Still, there is nothing in the description of this book that would indicate that to be the nature of this book or author.

If your romance novel with hearts and flowers and a wedding chapel on the front cover ends with the woman dumped at the altar, then you complain. When your horror novel is horrifying, you shouldn't punish it for delivering what it promised. I suppose you still give it the one or two stars, but then you come up with some reason better than it being too intense, disturbing, hard to read...

Yes, this book is disturbing, but it needs to be. Anybody purchasing it should do so with the knowledge that it will get under your skin, because it's not just about a girl next door, but also about the "devil" inside of us all.
53 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Disturbing Tale of Torture and Madness 31 décembre 2005
Par Kelly Houser - Publié sur
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
David is your average 12-year-old boy. He has friends in his neighborhood and is becoming interested in girls. When Meg and Susan Loughlin move in with the family of his best friend, David thinks he has an opportunity for a new friend, even if Meg, the sister he encounters first, is a girl and a little older than him. Meg and Susan's parents were killed in an accident, and David's neighbor Ruth and her sons are all the family the girls have to speak of.

It's not long before Ruth begins a descent into madness and begins abusing the girls. First come the beatings, then a campaign of torture that David and other neighborhood children witness and participate in. The cops had already been involved and hadn't listened to Meg's pleas. Her and Susan's only hope is David. Will he be able to save the sisters before it is too late?

This novel was very disturbing. It includes graphic depictions of torture, rape, and other violence. It is an interesting character study in how people in violent situations respond to that violence; whether they become the predator or the prey. "The Girl Next Door" was very hard to put down, but very hard to read, as well. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart.
19 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Matter-of-fact Writing Rings Haunting Resonance 14 février 2001
Par ConstantConsumer - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
First, let me say that if you read this book, you will not forget the experience, not for a long time. Whether it stems from the piercing theme or from the realism that sears through the work like a hot rivet in the snow, this novel resonates more than any other I've ever read. Sure, the unthinkable violence and cruelty keep you turning the pages the way a line of ambulances and crunched cars make you turn your head when you drive by a multi-car pileup, but it's more than that. I'm a slow reader and I downed this book in two days, mostly in one evening. But it's more than that. A lot more.
The narrative is the wizened recollection of a man haunted by the past: the summer of his thirteenth year on the planet in the late 50's. The realism comes from his devout memory of the period. The initial sympathy is driven by everyone's memory of early adolescence and the first love during that phase of life. But that is only the primrose covering the path. As we follow Ketchum, we find things beyond the thin dressing along the trail; we find dark shadows and strange twists and decisions and sharp things that hurt and water that scalds and scalds again and searing needles that carve words on a young girl. And hot irons. Hot irons that melt flesh.
The novel is essentially about a murder. A slow torturous murder of a 14 year-old girl, but the central story nonetheless. The theme and ideas revolving around that occurrence are what make this novel one of the most resonating I've come across. He reminds me of a severe Maxwell Smart in his storytelling. Would you believe a woman goes crazy and tortures her niece? Maybe. Would you believe she brought her boys in on it? Well, that's tougher to swallow, but sure, it could happen. OK, would you believe she had every kid on the block helping beat, cut and dehumanize the girl? I don't thinks so.
But you will, if you read this book.
I've never been so haunted by a story in my life. So torn between loving it and hating it. I hated what happened in it, but no more that I hate what Jeffery Dalmer did. But I still watch the documentaries about him when they're on. I still watch.
A boy in The Girl Next Door watches too. He's the only one who never actually harms the girl. But he still watches. He still lets it happen. And that begs the question, which is the true monster, the aunt or the boy? By the end of the novel, we know. We know because he knows and he tells us.
I've tried not to give too much away here - no more than you can read from the dust jacket. But I would heartily recommend reading the Introduction after the novel. It's written by Stephen King, who is always worth reading, but Mr. King gives a bit much away. Better to read it later, as the resonance begins to hum.
This is the first Jack Ketchum novel I've ever read. But it will not be the last.
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