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THE LOST BOYS
By CRAIG SHAW GARDNER (Berkley; 1987)

One of the most collectible of all movie novelizations, this paperback was number 98 on Bookfinder.comís top 100 most sought-after out-of-print books 2012 listing. It was the first movie tie-in written by the prolific fantasy novelist Craig Shaw Gardner, who followed with novelizations of the first two BATMAN and last two BACK TO FUTURE movies, among many others.

     Surprisingly, this novel isnít all that bad--even if it contains the expected hasty prose and wobbly storytelling Iíve come to expect from movie novelizations--being quite slick and enjoyable overall. Gardner was already adept at crafting audience-pleasing fiction, and shows off that talent here in admirably unaffected prose, related in a succession of short, pointed chapters and an economical 220 page count.

     Iím sure you already know the story: the teenaged Michael and his younger brother Sam move with their recently divorced mother to their eccentric grandfatherís home in the (fictional) California beach town Santa Carla. Apparently the ďMurder capitol of the world,Ē Santa Carla is home to a coven of teen vampires known as the Lost Boys, who live in a seaside cave and are lorded over by an elusive head vampire.

     In keeping with his reader-friendly bent, Gardner keeps his descriptions short and to-the-point. This isnít always for the best, as in the chapter where Michael and the Lost Boys hang from the underside of a railroad bridge as part of an initiation ritual; as related here, the succeeding action is all-but incoherent, even for readers whoíve already seen the LOST BOYS movie. Iíll also complain about the rushed and perfunctorily described action of the final third, although Gardner nearly redeems himself in an intriguing two page coda (which didnít make it to the screen) suggesting that the Lost Boys werenít the only inhabitants of the aforementioned seaside cave.

     One of the strong points of the movie was its skillful juxtaposition of screwball comedy and R-rated horror. That combination of goofiness and scares is definitely present in this novel (often in the same paragraph), but the mixture is far less harmonious. Thatís due most likely to the accelerated time frame granted for movie novelizations, which doesnít leave a lot of time for nuance. So no, Craig Shaw Gardnerís LOST BOYS wonít ever pass muster as a ďrealĒ novel, but again, for what it is itís not all bad.

     

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