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Lost Boys: A Novel

Lost Boys: A Novel

4.3 46
by Orson Scott Card

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For Step Fletcher, his pregnant wife DeAnne, and their three children, the move to tiny Steuben, North Carolina, offers new hope and a new beginning. But from the first, eight-year-old Stevie's life there is an unending parade of misery and disaster.

Cruelly ostracized at his school, Stevie retreats further and further into himself -- and into a strange


For Step Fletcher, his pregnant wife DeAnne, and their three children, the move to tiny Steuben, North Carolina, offers new hope and a new beginning. But from the first, eight-year-old Stevie's life there is an unending parade of misery and disaster.

Cruelly ostracized at his school, Stevie retreats further and further into himself -- and into a strange computer game and a group of imaginary friends.

But there is something eerie about his loyal, invisible new playmates: each shares the name of a child who has recently vanished from the sleepy Southern town. And terror grows for Step and DeAnne as the truth slowly unfolds. For their son has found something savagely evil ... and it's coming for Stevie next.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
First mainstream outing—a family drama with a touch of the supernatural—from the leading fantasist (the Alvin Maker series) and sf writer (The Memory of Earth, p. 81). Devout Mormon Step Fletcher, designer of a successful computer game called Hacker Snack, moves with his family to Steuben, North Carolina, to take up a new job. To Step's dismay, he is urged to accept a contract signing away his rights; he also discovers that his sole function will be to write manuals. Step and his wife DeAnne, now seven months pregnant, are given a warm welcome by their church—but eldest son Stevie (8) experiences difficulties at school and becomes withdrawn. At church, DeAnne fends off the meddlesome, self-proclaimed visionary Sister LeSueur, while Step has problems with Lee, who thinks he's God and wants to baptize Stevie; Step also meets a whiz programmer who calls himself Saladin Gallowglass (despite his talents, Glass turns out to be a child molester); and through it all, the house the Fletchers rent is subject to periodic horrid invasions of insects. Frustrated and exasperated, Step quits his job, intending instead to upgrade Hacker Snack for a new PC range. Meanwhile, Steuben is haunted by the disappearance of a number of young boys; the police suspect a serial killer but have no clues. Then DeAnne gives birth to a boy, Zap (who suffers from cerebral palsy); more boys disappear from Steuben; and, frighteningly, their names coincide with those of Stevie's invisible playmates. Even more confusingly, the computer games that Stevie has become absorbed in seem to run without disks or software. Finally, at Christmas, the matters of Stevie, the lost boys, and the invasions of insects cometogether in a wrenching conclusion. Once again, Card writes superbly about children, and here he adds a persuasive and heartwarming picture of a loving couple working hard to solve their problems. Affecting, genuine, poignant, uplifting: a limpid, beautifully orchestrated new venture from an author already accomplished in other fields.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One

This is the car they drove from Vigor, Indiana, to Steuben, North Carolina: a silvery-gray Renault 18i deluxe wagon, an '81 model with about forty thousand miles on it, twenty-five thousand of which they had put on it themselves. The paint was just beginning to get tiny rust-colored pockmarks in it, but the wiring had blown about fifteen fuses and they'd had to put three new drive axles in it because it was designed so that when a ball bearing wore out you had to replace the whole assembly. It couldn't climb a hill at fifty-five, but it could seat two adults in the leather bucket seats and three kids across the back. Step Fletcher was driving, had been driving since they finally got away from the house well after noon. Empty house. He was still hearingechoes all the way to Indianapolis. Somewhere along the way he must have passed the moving van, but he didn't notice it or didn't recognize it or maybe the driver had pulled into a McDonald's somewhere or a gas station as they drove on by.

The others all fell asleep soon after they crossed the Ohio River. After Step had talked so much about flatboats and Indian wars, the kids were disappointed in it. It was the bridge that impressed them. And then they fell asleep. DeAnne stayed awake a little longer, but then she squeezed his hand and nestled down into the pillow she had jammed into the corner between the seat back and the window.

Just how it always goes, thought Step. She stays awake the whole time I'm wide awake and then, just as I get sleepy and maybe need to have her spell me for a while at the wheel, she goes to sleep.

Hepushed the tape the rest of the way into the player. It was the sweet junky sound of "The E Street Shuffle." He hadn't listened to that in a while. DeAnne must have had it playing while she ran the last-minute errands in Vigor. Step had played that album on their second date. It was kind of a test. DeAnne was so serious about religion, he had to know if she could put up with his slightly wild taste in music. A lot of Mormon girls would have missed the sexual innuendos entirely, of course, but DeAnne was probably smarter than Step was, and so she not only noticed the bit about girls promising to unsnap their jeans and the fairies in a real bitch fight, she also got the part about hooking onto the midnight train, but she didn't get upset, she just laughed, and he knew it was going to be OK, she was religious but not a prig and that meant that he wouldn't have to pretend to be perfect in order to be with her. Ten years ago, 1973. Now they had three kids in the back of the Renault 18i wagon, probably the worst car ever sold in America, and they were heading for Steuben, North Carolina, where Step had a job.

A good job. Thirty thousand a year, which wasn't bad for a brand new history Ph.D. in a recession year. Exceptthat he wasn't teaching history, he wasn't writing history, the job was putting together manuals for a computer software company. Not even programming — he couldn't even get hired for that, even though Hacker Snack was the best-selling game for the Atari back in '81. For a while there it had looked like his career was made as a game designer. They had so much money they figured they could afford for him to go back to school and finish his doctorate. Then the recession came, and the lousy Commodore 64 was killing the Atari in the stores, and suddenly his game was out of print and nobody wanted him except as a manual writer.

So Springsteen played along to his semi-depressed mood as Step wound the car up into the mountains, the sun setting in the west as the road angled them mostly east into the darkness. I should be happy, he told himself. I got the degree, I got a good job, and nothing says I can't do another game in my spare time, even if I have to do it on the stupid 64. It could be worse. I could have got a job programming Apples.

Despite what he said to encourage himself, the words still tasted like failure in his mouth. Thirty-two years old, three kids, and I'm on the downhill slope. Used to work for myself, and now I have to work for somebody else. Just like my dad with his sign company that went bust. At least he had the scar on his back from the operation that took out a vertebra. Me, I got no visible wounds. I was riding high one day, and then the next day we found out that our royalties would be only $7,000 instead of $40,000 like the last time, and we scrambled around looking for work and we've got debts coming out of our ears and I'm going to be just as broke as my folks for the rest of my life and it's my own damned fault. Wage slave like my dad.

Just so I don't have the shame of my wife having to take some lousy swingshift job like Mom did. Fine if she wants to get a job, that's fine, but not if she has to.

Yet he knew even as he thought of it that that was what would happen next — they wouldn't be able to sell the house in Vigor and she'd have to get a job just to keep up the payments on it. We were fools to buy a house, but we thought it would be a good investment.

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card has won several Hugo and Nebula Awards for his works of speculative fiction, among them the Ender series and The Tales of Alvin Maker. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife and four children.

Brief Biography

Greensboro, North Carolina
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1951
Place of Birth:
Richland, Washington
B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981

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Lost Boys 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
Set in the early 80's, Step Fletcher and his wife DeAnne move to Steuben, North Carolina to begin his new job as a technical writer. With them, are their three kids, Stevie (7), Robbie (4) and their toddler sister Elizabeth. DeAnne and Step are expecting baby number four and life looks promising. Except, that the job isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and Step's real passion is designing video games. Having previously been self-employed, Step finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. You see, he's been hired as a tech writer, yet his real job is to audit code behind his boss' back which is really, an impossible situation to be in. On the home front, DeAnne is trying to find her place in this new neighborhood, and since they are of the Mormon faith, they are immediately accepted into their new ward. However, that's not as perfect as it sounds, as this particular ward has some colorful characters who set out to make things difficult for the Fletcher family. Stevie has an increasingly hard time in school and cannot seem to find his place. The house they live in is plagued by insects (no one knows why) and there is the quite a bit of debt hanging over them all, which forces Step to work in a place that he truly hates. This novel is classified as a horror story, and I must say, it took quite a bit of time for the horror to sink in but when it did, it took my breath away. It's not the type of horror that is obvious. It's the slow realization that something is desperately wrong. While the Fletchers try to settle into their new life, little boys begin to disappear one by one and then it becomes obvious to both DeAnne and Step that Stevie is not quite right. I loved this novel so much that I turned right around and listened to it on audio. The audio version is read by Stefan Rudnicki who is absolutely fabulous. I've never read anything by Orson Scott Card so I had no expectations while reading this book but I don't think it could have been more perfect. You must read or listen to this book and then tell me what you think of it. Since it was originally published in '92, the references to computers and video games is quite dated, but since I work in technology, where everything becomes outdated in just three months' time, I found this to be quite entertaining. Also, don't let the religious undertones scare you away. The Mormon faith plays a big role in this novel, but it's not preachy in any way. Rudnicki does a wonderful job reading. Told with feeling and very convincing.
Skum More than 1 year ago
Card is a character driven writer. In most of his books you get to know the main characters in depth. We are in the heads of the characters themselves. As a young father of the 80's I could identify with the main character of this book. This is about a family struggling with job, church and staying together. At times you will want to consul the family, at times you will want to reach through the book and choke them saying, quite being so stupid, and at times you will be saying what would I do. Card usually writes great fantasy. This book has a little fantasy, but it is more about a family struggling. You do not have to be a fan of fantasy to enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't add much to the previous reviewers except to say I have not had a book I have not wanted to put down in a long time, and I am an avid reader (about 2 books a week or more). I haven't read OSC in a very long time, but I am SO glad I got this book. WOW.
Guest More than 1 year ago
But it still easily deserves 5 stars. Lost Boys is a very deep moving novel. For those of you who mentioned how real it seemed, do some research; he based the book off his first year in Greensboro, NC (except for the climax.) The book is about a young couple with kids who are moving to a new town. They are going through tough times which ends up being tougher with all the strage creepy people they run into. While also, their oldest son, 8 year-old Stevie, becomes more and more distant from his family, which makes his parent wonder what's going on. Very well developed characters and not boring for a moment. For me, ever part was intense. If you have any questions about the book, e-mail me because I've already asked Mr. Card tons of stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been an OSC fan since Ender and enjoy his SF very much. I cna only compare OSC writing a great work of fiction (I would call it drama, not horror) with the same surprise when people find out Stand By Me and Shawshank were written by S. King. I've read this book 3 times now and will read it again. It remains as relevent a life path story as Sidhartha but in a very real and modern way. This is not a book about Mormons. It is a story about a family making their way in the world, facing obstacles, and from time to time turning to their faith as a compass (just like any of us). The set up for the supernatural ending is one of the best I've ever experienced. Enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First I have to say that I am a huge fan of Orson's, and I loved his novel Lost Boys. The characters in this book are given so much depth and personality that I was beginning to think they were real. A lot of the time I found myself not wanting to put the book down because it was so good. It gets really suspenseful at times and even sad. And from reading this book, I found out more about the Mormon religion which was interesting. But there was also a lot a boring parts in this book. Some parts were so slow and boring, I considered not reading the rest of the book. And after I read the book, I still had a lot of questions that were left unanswered. The ending was confusing for me, I didn't quite understand the deaths. And what ever happeneded to Lee Weeks? What happened with Mrs. Jones? How did Zap grow up? It's these kinds of questions that I still wonder about and I wish the answers were stated more clearly. Overall, I loved the book. I would recommend to anyone who's 14 or older and to anyone who just wants a great book to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read. The sad thing is that this book is advertised as a horror novel, which it definitely is NOT. It is really about a Mormon family who moves to a southern town and struggles to cope with the adversities they find there. I think some people are getting the wrong idea about this book. As one reviewer stated, this is the first book OSC has written about an actual Mormon family, and the reviewer was disappointed because all of the bad guys were NOT Mormon. This can't be further from the truth! There are two distinct characters that are Mormon that are definitely "bad guys" in the novel. One is Lee Weeks and the other is Sister LaSeur. Both play pretty big parts in the novel, and I have no idea how the reviewer missed the fact that Card shows both the good and the bad of the Mormon religion, warts and all. For an area that has very few Mormons (North Carolina), OSC did not ignore the ones that were there, and made sure to include a few characters that definitely were not considered "good people." But that is beside the point. I think many non-Mormons may have difficulty fully understanding some of the Mormon aspects of the book. However, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that OSC does such a good job with the characters that I can't help but wonder if they are based on his own life or other people he knows. They are that REAL. Read this novel! As long as you go in understanding that it is more about family relationships than horror, you will be truly touched.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a big OSC fan, following him into genre's I don't normally read (as in fantasy). He's such a great writer that he is worth reading in any format. This is a horror story, but it's like no other I've read. There is a low tension in the book that build and builds as you read about people you can relate to and come to care about. Where's the horror? I kept waiting for it, and noticing that I was coming closer and closer to the end of the book. Then, OSC drops a hammer on you. I was emotionally moved for days. I couldn't believe it. I was totally set up and took the fall. Wow! No other book as moved me so. (and I haven't told you about the story for a reason). I had my wife read the book. She was mad at me for a couple weeks and won't read any more books by OSC. That too is a testimony to the power of this book. She reacted even more strongly than I to the ending. She is not avoiding OSC because the book was boring, poorly written or not of her taste. She's avoiding him because she read a horror book that suceeded in horrifying her. Kudos to OSC.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read almost all of OSC's books and have loved most of them, but this was one was a definite "miss" for me. The story has an interesting premise, but also has some significant flaws: 1) I did not find any of the main characters to be particularly engaging, 2) there is a lot of time spent delving into the mundane details of life as an active members of an LDS congregation, 3) some of the characters' actions just didn't make much sense. For example, the Fletcher parents are terribly concerned about their son, but never really attempt to have an in-depth conversation with him about his imaginary friends. Or, the father is a video game programmer and sees his son playing an unfamiliar game with amazing graphics, and never investigates this until the last chapter. And would a small town really wait for so many children to disappear before the newspaper ran a story about it? Overall, it was a chore to finish the book - very unlike the other Card books I have read.
theshippingnews More than 1 year ago
I'm having a hard time understanding why I liked this book, especially since there were so many things that seemed to go nowhere, suggestions of possible difficulties with characters that turn out to be dead ends. Still, the characters were interesting and I cared about them, particularly Stevie, who sufferes in unexpected and uncomfortable ways in this book. The ending, though - one could see it coming, if not too distracted by all the loose ends in the story. Worth reading, though.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I loved the overall book! I had a bit of a hard time understanding the technology language. I never truly understood the part about why eight bits had to not choose the IBM for Step to be able to create games or whatever for a year, but I managed to understand enough to keep up with the story. My only true complaint is about half way through the book I started seeing a lot of typos. Glass is Class a lot. That confused me at first. It's like whoever turned it into an ebook got lazy, or maybe someone different did the rest of it. Other than that, great book with an excellent climax!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure. What do we do? Oh by the way im julian
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry I bought this book. The description made it sound like a mystery but it wasn't. It was boring and I wish I could get my money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only officers permitted. Officer rank over sargeant. Same rules as barracks. Help is at minecraft res 1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wher is the first one?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love your story! Please hurry up with the next part cause I'm practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. By the way I have a character . Can you please have her be like a stow-away or something? Here's the Bio. Jessica (Jess for short) Chesslacy* Age: however old you want but around 13* Godly Parent: Apollo* Looks: wavy red hair cut just above the chin, brilliant blue eyes, tan skin, big ears, freckles EVERYWHERE, kinda tall and lanky but with strong arms* Style: basically the first thing she sees when she gets out of bed, it could be a Dunkin Donuts teeshirt 4 sizes to big, a pink fedora, a glow in the dark headband, Hello Kitty flip-flops, anything, but never dresses, they get in the way of running around which Jess is always ALWAYS doing* Personality: SUPER A.D.H.D., she is always moving quickly, running somewhere, doing something, remembering something else she needs to do and then running there, she hardly ever stops to think about things, she just jumps right in in, super curious , she likes to know about and be a part of everything, even though she's impulsive she's actually super smart and clever, just a bit flakey* Weopon: like most kids of Apollo shes super good at archery and fights mostly with a bow and arrows, her talking also can be a weopon because it's enough to distract almost anybody, she also has an emergency dagger,* Powers: she loves rhyming and can come up with a rhyme for pretty much everything, she also can speak to animals and has like 20 pets- Hope you will use her!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I left you some suggestions we should do and DOS should do next time at pups result 1.~ your lovable fan girl, Michelle &star
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a person name Jack Skeleton weapon a walking stick that can turn into any weapon but mostly a bow and arrow for far range fighting and a 5 foot sword for close range fighting personality funny,smart,witty,good at anything you give him such as archery,sword,fighting,canoeing,art,sports,foot raceing godly parent athena. Please make him a quester
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok my charecter Name is Daisy Hail Parents are Hecate and Mr. Hail Powers are control and make mist Weapon is a celestial bronze knife sort of like Annabeths but longer and i keep it on my ankle Appearence: really dark brown hair(almost black) big brown eyes olive skin freckles and tall(5'6") I live in the Bronx and I have a crush on Connor Stoll(if u r using people from the percy jackson books) Age: 13 Favorite color is dark green and i play soccer PLEASE PUT ME IN YOUR BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanls for put both olivis and james in there. I dont mind if they are twins i think its cool. Cant wait to read the first part ~~~~ Alexia
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dear LIGHTNING MUST STRIKE, I have a great idea for a character in your book! Her name is Angelinana. She is the daughter of Posidon and Aphrodite. Yes, that does mean that she is a new goddess. She is the goddess of song and of the sea creatures. She has long light brown hair that she keeps in braided pig-tails. She can kill her immortal( not including the gods, of course) or mortal enemys if she sings a particular song called "Not this Time". If you think she would help your book please message me at House of Hades result one. I hope you take Angelinana into consideration. Yours truly, THE GODS SHALL RULE FOREVER