Hey kiddos! Meredith here. I never really read much YA as a YA. I mean, I definitely dug the classics (Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, etc), but I mostly stuck to the scary stuff. Stephen King (still and always), James Patterson (HAH! Oh young Meredith, no), Agatha Christie, R.L. Stine, Shakespeare (hey, it's bloody), and my once-obsession: Christopher Pike. Holy buckets, I loved that Christopher Pike! He was all sex and drugs and MURDER and mystery. To me, it was like middle-school nerd porn.
As an adult, I have decided to revisit that world that so consumed me as a kid. I remember once reading a particularly tense passage and literally FALLING out of my chair when someone knocked on the window next to my desk to say hi. When was the last time I was that absorbed in a book?
Alas, my reacquaintance with Mr. Pike didn't do the trick, either. But I did learn something new! Pike has publishedaround 70 books, but he has precisely 18 plot devices in his arsenal. To be fair, these plot devices are AMAZING. So before I delve into the sample of 7 books I researched for this purpose, allow me to introduce you to Christopher Pike's Favorite Literary Devices:
Shit is habitually 'sploded in the Pikeverse. Occasionally it's accidental, but far more likely it's the work of some deviant little asshole.
It's hard to argue with a good switched-at-birth story.
These siblings are unnervingly close. Often, one is dead. Sometimes they both are.
Typically old, grizzled, alcoholic and (insert noir voice) he'll get to the bottom of this scam if it KILLS him, seeee?
I know: why? But it's a key deus ex machina in a Christopher Pike novel, you'll find. Like charades (why?), but I couldn't find a clever picture for that one.
I'm talking insanely fucked up dreams here. And the sequences don't lend themselves nearly so well to character development or foreshadowing as you might believe. They're just there for the sake of being nutballs.
They're ubiquitous! And never in an After School Special way. No, Pike makes drugs fully glamorous. Like Dynasty!
You may think this character's dead, but is he? IS HE?! (no.)
So few characters in Pike's cache are who they say they are. This little contrivance often goes hand-in-hand with Faked Death (above) and Secretly Related (below).
They must carry their guilt to the grave! But can they trust each other?! (No.)
I know, right? Ew!
Everyone is always having all sorts of wrong sex with all sorts of inappropriate people. Much like our friend Don Draper.
People Of Fiction, heed my words: this never ends well.
So many elaborate revenge scenarios up in this bitch!
Two characters are friends, or enemies, or lovers (INCEST!), and then BAM! Turns out they're related!
Just balls to the wall, bullets flying, fuckin' shit up old-school shootouts. By high school students, no less!
What would any good mystery be without an overly-long and utterly unnecessary explanation by the villain of his complex nefarious doings?
Now that you're familiar with Pike's tools, let's get into the content. For each book, I'll answer 4 questions:
1. Can I guess the end?
2. How fucked up is this book?
3. Does the cover/title accurately represent the story?
4. Should I read (or re-read as an adult) this book?
Chain Letter, 1986.
A group of friends with an awful secret are forced to engage inincreasingly dangerous pranks at the hands of an all-knowing mastermind.
1. Yes, you can totally guess the end.
2. Eh, it's a little fucked up.
3. Yes, the cover and title are totes accurate.
4. Skip this book.
Die Softly, 1991.
Total skeezeball Herb sets up a camera in the girls' locker room. When he retrieves the film, he discovers that he inadvertently captured...A MURDER! (duh duh DUUUUUUUNH!)
1. You can sort of guess the end, but not all of it.
2. It's pretty fucked up.
3. The title makes no kinda sense. The cover is fairly representative of Herb's pervy sensibilities.
4. Do not read this book. It is stupid.
The Eternal Enemy, 1993.
Rela saves up money to buy a VCR so she can ogle Mel Gibson's bare ass in Lethal Weapon in slow-motion. No, really. But as she begins recording news programs, she realizes she's recording news from...THE FUTURE! (This book gets a sneaky shout-out in Remember Me!)
1. You can DEFINITELY NOT guess the end of this book.
2. IT IS SO FUCKED UP!
3. OMG, I love this title and cover. They're ridiculous, but apropos of the story.
4. Read it! It's absolutely crazy!
Fall Into Darkness, 1990.
Sharon is on trial for murdering her best friend, Ann. (Ann RICE, no less.) But there are far twistier plots at play than plain old murder!
1. You can probably guess the end of this book.
2. It's moderately fucked up.
3. The title and cover are both kinda weak, but somewhat representative of the book.
4. Nah, don't read it. I LOVED it as a kid and it's just not nearly as diabolically brillz as I'd remembered.
Gimme a Kiss, 1988.
Jane writes tawdry fiction about her crush Kirk in her diary. When the diary ends up photo-copied at school, Jane's mortified and enraged. You know what that means, kids? Elaborate Revenge Scenario! (This book gets a secret shout-out in Fall Into Darkness!)
1. It is highly unlikely you will guess the end of this book.
2. It's totes fucked up.
3. The title and cover are perfect!
4. Yes! Gimme a Kiss is a blast and surprisingly clever.
Remember Me, 1989.
Shari Cooper goes to a party, stands on a balcony, and wakes up dead. The police aresaying she committed suicide, but she knows she didn't. And she's not going anywhere until she solves her murder and clears her name.
Devices Included: Lots
1. You almost definitely can't guess the end of this book.
2. It's pretty fucked up, yo.
3. I love this cover! It's not in print anymore, but Shari totally wears that exact fug outfit. The title's okay.
4. READ IT! It's SO good! This was my favorite CP book and I'm so glad it didn't disappoint. It's the first one I re-read and because of it, I had unfair expectations of the books to come.
Slumber Party, 1985.
Lara and the girls get together for a weekend of ski and slumber at Nell's mansion. They haven't all been together since that tragic night eight years ago...and now it's happening... AGAIN.
1. If you can't guess the end of this book, raise your hand, and Tommy will come back there and hit you over the head with a tack hammer because you are a retard.
2. It's not even fucked up.
3. The title and cover are both entirely prosaic, so yes, they are representative of the book.
4. Oh HELL no. Slumber Party is unbelievably tedious. It seriously took me WEEKS to finish the book, and it's like 150 pages. I'd read a couple of pages and then just groan and throw it down. It's also Pike's first published novel, so I'll give him a pass. Grudgingly.
You know what this post needs more of? Visual Aids! And because I
am married a nerd, I made had him make a handy-dandy chart!
Yeah, I know, Robot and Baby Swap each only appear once, which is hardly a recurring trope. BUT HELLO IT'S ROBOT AND BABY SWAP. I had to include them!
I hope you enjoyed your spooky and repetitive walk down Pike Memory Lane. Happy Halloween, kids!