7 Rated Books Book Reviews YA Appreciation Month

WHY HAVEN’T I READ THIS BOOK?!: Monster by Christopher Pike

Today, we bring you two reviews for pretty well-known books that for some reason we hadn’t picked up yet. Before the onslaughts of “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN’T READ THAT?!” begin, let us just offer our profuse apologies.

We know.

We were ignoramuses.

But we’ve rectified that. Ladies and Gents, please accept these reviews as atonement: we give you our “WHY HAVEN’T I READ THESE BOOKS!?!” Day.

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Ana’s Pick: Monster by Christopher Pike (you can check Thea’s pick, the review of the Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld here)

Genre: YA (Horror)

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone

Publisher: Simon Pulse (latest edition)
Publishing Date: August 28, 2001
Mass Market paperback: 240 pages

Thea has been raving about Christopher Pike’s books to me for a long, loooooooooooong time.Last year, she wrote an incredible Dungeon’s post about his books and I was seriously tempted to give them a try but never did.

So, WHY did it take me so damn long to read a Christopher Pike novel? Because I frakking hate horror Because Horror is not one of my favourite genres. I tend to find most horror stories either very silly or very scary, the latter being the main reason why I do not read horror being the huge pansy that I am. Then, Thea sent me Monster as a birthday gift last month and that was the cue I needed to finally read it. I open the book and the first lines are ominous:

“It began with blood.
It would end the same way.”

Angela Warner was at the party at Jim Kline’s house when Mary Blanc, her best friend, burst through the door carrying a shotgun. She shoots and kills football player Todd and the lead cheerleader Kathy and goes after her boyfriend Jim next – while EVERYBODY STANDS THERE AND STARES. Remember I just said that I find most horror stories silly, it is because of stuff like that (or stuff like naked teenagers walking around empty houses in the middle of nowhere whilst there is a serial killer on the loose that likes to kill naked teenagers walking around empty houses in the middle of nowhere. But I digress).

Thus, I am thinking right there that this book will fall on the “silly” side instead of scary side. But them Angela, our protagonist, decides to do something and there is a kick-ass fighting scene between her and Mary complete with a kick on the face and everything. But Mary is woman on a mission and she chases after Jim, as he tries to flee jumping off a window from the first floor unscathed (clue numero uno that may be something weird about Jim) and they run into the woods. Angela runs after then to try and stop Mary and help Jim since she knows the area so well. That is when Angela tells her that “he is not human”. The police end up arresting Mary but not before she manages to shoot Jim on his leg.

She is taken to prison and Angela visits her one day later and they have a heart to heart conversation where Mary says that the football team and the cheerleaders are different somehow, behaving strangely, stronger than before– her verdict is that they are monsters and that she needed to kill them. Angela, quite appropriately thinks that Mary has lost it.

And promptly decides to carry on with her life and starts dating Jim, who by the way, recovered pretty quickly from being shot (clue numero dos that Jim may not be alright after all). But back to Angela: her best friend is in jail for a truly horrible crime, teens have been killed and the girl just goes about like nothing happened, because she is oh, so horny for the hawt jock. Dear readers, this is when I decided that definitely, 1) this was going to be a silly story and 2) that Angela was the monster of the title. Because, really. What.a.biatch.

Boy, was I wrong. Because Jim and Angela hook up and kiss and then go swimming in Point Late, a.k.a. Lake of Doom (which may or may not have something to do with the things that happen next) and then Jim gets hurt and there is blood everybody and he sort of spreads the blood on Angela’s belly (and I am like, DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER WILL ROBINSON) and that is when things get really, really scary. Because Angela is now hungry. Like, I- need-to-eat-raw-meat-now-now-NOW hungry and the coin drops leading her to start investigating Mary’s claims and learning more about the history and mythology of the town. And it is all very interesting and all but really, the strength of this novel lies in Angela, and how her character goes through this slow, horrific process of transformation whilst at the same time being completely aware of it. By the -INEVITABLE- end of it, she knows what she is going through and why and this certainly makes for compelling reading. Because Angela does have a mean streak, an attraction to the Dark Side of the Force but she is also painfully, fully human. And that humanity of Angela is what compels her to at least TRY to do the things she does towards the end of the book.

The human factor though is the most saddening of it all. And I can’t go on without talking about Kevin, Angela’s friend, the requisite Geek Sidekick with the crush on the Girl. There is one very poignant scene where he learns that she is going out with Jim and he gives her a hurt look and asks “what’s wrong with me?” and I was like awwww Duckie!

The sweetness of Kevin’s character only adds extra sorrow and horror to a later sequence in the book, the sequence that caused me to have one night full of nightmares and which definitely, totally moves the book away from “silly” to “scary”.

So I email Thea to say that I finished reading the book and that against all odds, I did like it, although probably not as much as I would have had I been a Horror fan. She emails me back, and says, Thea-Style: “isn’t it beautiful”? er, HELL NOES. It is freaking scary, that’s what Monster is, which I am sure is the whole point. (But also, a little bittersweet, which I guess could be seen as beautiful by some).

And this is it, my first ever Christopher Pike book read and reviewed. Would I read any other Christopher Pike book? Why, you know what? I think I would.

Verdict: a little bit silly to start with but undeniably scary when the plot gets going.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

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12 Comments

  • Bridget Locke
    August 6, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I went thru a huge R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, L.J. Smith glom when I was about 13. I think I read every book by the authors and then some.

    My favorite was the series LJ Smith did about the kids with special powers. It’s not Secret Circle or Vampire Diaries…it’s the other one. *sigh*

    Anyhoodles, I’ve always liked stories like this. I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as horror though. Maybe I haven’t read a lot of horror books to quantify, but it seems that way.

  • Lusty Reader
    August 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Oh Ana, make that a table for two at “I frakking hate horror Because Horror is not one of my favourite genres.” I’m so impressed you pushed through Monster, espceially after hearing about the bloody lake scene, already my pansy stomach started to feel nauseous.

  • Adrienne
    August 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Ana-holy crap that was funny! I don’t know what I laughed harder at, your “hate horror” or that what.a.biatch. Good review; now I am going to have to read it, damn it :mrgreen: Thanks for another awesome review and the giggle at my computer screen

  • Rhiannon Hart
    August 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    @ Briget Locke You mean the Dark Visions Trilogy! They are probably the only actually scary books that LJ Smith has written. Well, scary for LJ Smith. That sense deprivation box that people get put into and then come out all loopy. *shudder*

    Ana, if you want to try more Christopher Pike I remember enjoying The Last Vampire series. I think there’s six books and she’s a pretty cool vamp. Uses her nails instead of her teeth and doesn’t go on and on about bloodlust. That I can remember. Very funny review, I should try this book as every other Pike book I’ve read has felt a leetle cheesy.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    August 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I love this book. As I was telling Thea earlier, it’s my favorite Pike. Also, oh, the nightmares. I remember the long sleepeless night I spent after finishing this about 15 years ago.

    The ending! And the dog! And oh!

    Also, if you want a romantic Pike (more your style, yes?), with decidedly less blood/guts/horror, I recommend See You Later.

  • Anonymous
    August 7, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Omgsh!! The Dark Visions and Last vampire series I read religiously when I was a teenager.. still do haha!! Great awesome books that I would totally recommend to vampire fanatics =D Yea for Christopher Pike! Brings back old memories lol 😀

  • JJ
    August 7, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Okay wow totally lost my head there for a sec hahaha the “Annonymous” comment is me btw lol totally forgot to put my info -__-

  • heidenkind
    August 7, 2009 at 2:26 am

    I used to read Christopher Pike by the cartload, and I’m not a huge horror fan, either. His YA books are great. I think my favorite was called Return to Me or something like that. It was about a girl who died and her ghost was trying to find the killer.

  • Jennifer
    August 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I was a huge Christopher Pike fan from the time I was 12 until I was 16. I found his later books too depressing, but I still love Weekend, Slumber Party, Last Act, the Final Friends Trilogy, and Witch.

  • Bridget Locke
    August 7, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Dark Visions! *smacks head* That’s what that series was called. Now I’ve got to go find copies. Eee!

  • Adrienne
    August 10, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I picked up that Last Vampire series (three books in one and it was a good price) on Friday and the previous poster is correct, the stories are very good. I like a vampire that actually drinks blood and is sort of a bad ass.

  • Cheap Thrills and Other Bookish Shenanigans « The Lit Connection
    June 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    […] of Pike cover art images on the web. Also, the Book Smugglers has two excellent posts about Pike here and here. *shakes virtual fist* Read. […]

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