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by Lois Duncan

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Five were missing—a terrifying ride into a nightmare!

In the beginning it's just another bus ride home from school. But the driver is a stranger . . .


Five were missing—a terrifying ride into a nightmare!

In the beginning it's just another bus ride home from school. But the driver is a stranger . . .

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The bus had ground into motion now, moving out of the school driveway, slowly turning into the street. It lurched a little and swung wide to avoid the Drive Slowly--School Zone sign which marked the middle line, and it seemed to straighten with an effort. To Dexter, who was always conscious of mechanics, it was immediately apparent that something was not as usual. He turned his gaze from the window and straightened in his seat, trying to see to the front. Glenn Kirtland's head blocked him, and he pulled himself higher.

"What are you looking at?" asked the girl next to him.

"The driver," Dexter told her shortly.

"Is something the matter with him?"

"He's different. He's not the guy who usually drives us."

"Oh? I hadn't noticed." Now she, too, rose, leaning out into the aisle to gain a better view. "You're right, he is different. A young fellow. Say, he's cute. Look at those shoulders!"

Ignoring the comment, Dexter sank back into his seat.

"I wonder if he's gong to be our regular driver from now on or if he's just a substitute." The girl looked at Dexter inquiringly.

When she received no answer, she flushed a little and looked ahead again.

"He is cute," she murmured, and her friend across the aisle giggled in agreement.

"Those shoulders!"

"All that red hair--"

"A positive movie star, worth riding the old school bus for."

"Hey," one of the smaller boys near the front of the bus said suddenly. "Hey, mister, you missed our stop! That was it back there at the corner of Rosemont!"

"Sorry, kid, I guess I just overshot it. I'm new on this route." The driver lowered the stop signal onthe side of the bus and slowed it to a quivering halt in the middle of the block. "You'll have to walk back to it."

For the first time since the bus had left the schoolyard, general attention was centered upon the driver.

"How about one of you kids sitting up front with me," suggested the driver, "to tell me where the stops are? Somebody who lives at the end of the route and knows where everybody else gets off?"

There was a moment's silence, and then Bruce Kirtland said, "I will. I live at Valley Gardens. That's the last stop."

"That's fine then." The driver had opened the door by now, and the first group of students descended, stretching and grumbling about the short walk back to the bus stop.

The door closed again, and with a grinding of gears, the bus lurched forward.

"He doesn't seem to know much about handling a bus," Glenn remarked in a low voice, regarding the driver with curios eyes.

"He's just a substitute," Marianne reminded him. "Perhaps he hasn't had experience driving one."

"Even substitutes have to have special licenses. They pass tests. You can't pull in just anybody to substitute driving a school bus."

The bus stopped, started, stopped. More students got out. Now there were only five of them left, five and the driver.

We're almost there, thought Jesse. In a few moments they would turn south on the road that led into the Valley Gardens area, down behind the country club.

Valley Gardens, she thought, keeping her eyes on her book, not really reading, but concentrating on the neat white margins in order to keep from having to make conversation with the boy across the aisle who kept staring at her so rudely.

Because her eyes were on the book, she was not the one to notice first that the bus had passed the turnoff. It was Bruce's voice that brought it to her attention.

"Hey we've come too far! Back there is where I told you to turn, back by the sign to the country club. You can pull right through the gates into the Gardens, and we all get off there."

"That's okay." The driver hardly seemed to notice him. I'm taking the long way 'round. I have to stop and pick up a friend of mine."

"Pick somebody up? With the school bus?" Bruce was surprised.

In her own seat Marianne echoed his reaction. "That's funny. Whom would he pick up with the bus? And why? It's not as though it were public transportation or something."

"Well, we'll see in a minute. He's slowing down." Glen leaned past her to gaze out the window with curiosity. "I guess that's the friend he's stopping for. It sure does seem peculiar."

The bus door opened, and a swarthy man in a leather jacket climbed aboard. The door closed quickly behind him, and the bus started up again. The man glanced about the interior of the bus and said to the driver, "Is this all of them?"

"These are the kids from the Gardens area." The driver spoke over his shoulder, his eyes on the road ahead.

"But there are only five. I thought we figured on at least eight." The new passenger spoke with a marked Mexican accent, not unusual in this part of the country. "Only five. Geez, Buck, it's hardly worth the risk of it."

"We'll make it worth it," the driver told him.

The bus turned now and started north, directly away from Valley Gardens. Dexter, who had been staring in bewilderment, came to with a start.

"Hey, you can't do this! Who are you anyway? Where do you think you're taking us?"

The man in the leather jacket was still standing with his back against the door. Now he took a step forward.

"I think you had better move," he said, "behind those other two up there. And you, girl"--he nodded to Jesse -- "you move up with him. I want you all together where I can keep tabs on you."

"What the devil..." Dexter began. And then he saw the pistol.

The bus turned again now, off the highway onto one of the dirt roads that led along the river.

"Where are we going?" Jesse asked numbly.

"Move forward," the man with the jacket told her, and she did so, closing her book carefully first, automatically slipping a bit of paper in to mark her place, too stunned even to attempt to grasp the significance of what was happening.

Perched at the front of the bus, Bruce stared back at them all like a small, startled owl.

"What--what's happening?" he asked shakily. "Glenn, do you understand?"

His brother's handsome face was incredulous. He drew a long breath.

"It looks," he said in a strange flat voice, "as though we are being kidnapped."

Meet the Author

Lois Duncan is the author of numerous bestselling books for young people and adults. Her novels have won her high acclaim, and many have been chosen as ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She lives in North Carolina.

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Ransom 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is thrilling and kept my interest throughout the whole story. The question of 'What will happen next?' was always going through my mind while i was reading and I found it impossible to put this book down. The story of 5 children held hostage all started one day when they were kidnapped while on the school bus on their way home from school. This story explains how close people can become aside from their differences. I highly recomend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was, for lack of better term, a complete bore. The characters were underdeveloped and typical. The girl with a devoriced family. The boy with a haunting past he cant get over. The loner girl. The self obsorbed jock and his scrawny, less populare brother who admires him but in the end finds out the truth. I felt nothing for them. No feelings supported ANYTHING. Not worth the money. 15 year old girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It only took me an hour to read. I loved it so much i couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lois has not dissapointed e yet!!!!! I love her books so much and this one is one of her best master pieces! Every teen character is relatable in some way. I recomend this book to anyone who loves Lois Duncan, or a thriller. She can write some awesome "never let go" books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ransom by Louis Duncan is a book about 5 kids in Vally gradems who get kidnapped and they also are held for ransom.I highly recomend this book to teenagers and young adults.The book is very well writtten and in every chapter the book,builds on supense and emotion.Lastly,when you pick up the book,you can never put it down. So do the right thing and buy the book.Trust me you will love it as much as I do !!
AlainaBrown More than 1 year ago
This book was so real I felt like this could happen to me or anyone who has ever ridden a school bus. I couldn't put it down. It's a real page turner and had me scared for the characters. Recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ransom By Lois Duncan This is a story focused on 5 kids, Bruce, Marianne, Glenn, Dexter, and Jesse, who live in a rich neighborhood called Valley Gardens. It all starts when at the end of the school day there original bus driver is out and a sub is in the seat, and at the moment they didn¿t think much of it. They went through the normal routine dropping off everyone except those in Valley Gardens. He took them to a lake where another car was parked with a woman, his wife, waiting there. They switched from the bus to that and traveled up to the mountains to a cabin far away from any village. The kidnapper and his wife planned to keep them there until their parents paid the ransom. I recommend this book to someone around the age 12-14 and who loves books focused on suspense and action, which is mainly the author¿s style of writing. Anyone who enjoys reading and watching cliffhanger plots would love to read this book. In my opinion this wasn¿t the best book but it was decent and enjoyable. Such as when somewhere along the story someone gets shot! Also when the kids attempt a thrilling escape plan. Find out for yourself by reading Ransom. Overall I would probably give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. If you like split stories where different characters come together with all different backgrounds than this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was good, but some parts were a bit predictable. I read this book in two days. It was hard to put down :).  I think the book may have been too short to really develop the characters and situation, but the twists Duncan provided were enough to keep one's attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!! I love all of Lois Duncan's books. Right now im reading "They never came home". I like it so far. READ THIS BOOK AND ALL HER OTHER BOOKS!!!!=-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasnt her best but it was ok. I wouldnt recomend it or anything like that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!! Jessse and dex are so cute!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK IS SOOOOOOOO COOL!!!!!!! It has so much suspense, this story will leave you hungry for more. SO BUY IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good if u like mysteries
2462 More than 1 year ago
Ransom by Lois Duncan, is about five teens: Dexter, Jesse, Bruce, Glenn, and Marianne. All five students were kidnapped from their bus coming home from school one day. The story takes place in Albuquerque.The cool thing about all five characters is that all five of them have the same thing in common, they are all from the same part, Valley Gardens. Valley Gardens is where all the rich people live so this was one of the reasons why they were kidnapped. The title pretty much explains it all because the kidnappers only kidnapped them for money. Ransom was one of the better books I have read. I really love thriller books and horro books and this book was a combination of the two. I really hate reading but I actually enjoyed this book. What was really cool about this book was how the kidnappers picked five students who were pratically exactly alike. The only thing I didn't really like about the book was how the title pretty much gave the book away. Lois Duncan is my favorite author when it comes to horror books. I would recommend this book to young adults who are looking for a book that keeps you constantly on your toes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NLopez25 More than 1 year ago
This book is really lovely. It is a book you can really get in to. The characters are okay but other then that the book is great. It has a lot of detail to. I would recommond this book to people but i would recommond another book first to be honest. But this book is really gooooooooood!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ransom is a good book but too much detail and the characters feel like they are with you which I suppose to. When you get to the back of the book it starts to lose all of the details and it Is good for me and probably not for someone who likes detailed books. The setting of the kidnapping was great because you think you are like right there with them and feeling what they are feeling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
madisonlily More than 1 year ago
This book was definitely a page turner, and was really good. It had a good plot line with developed characters. I would recommend this book to a friend, but it wouldn't be the first on the list. Overall, I liked it a lot and it is definitely worth reading.