I Got Class(ics) is a meme hosted by me here at Attack the Stacks in which I re-visit classics from my childhood/teen years and see if the nostalgia value holds. The name is punny, because I have very little class. Today I’ll be discussing the joys of another Christopher Pike novel. Fair warning: there will be spoilers.
By Christopher Pike
By Archway Paperbacks
Originally published 1989
School is almost over, and a secretive club on campus has organized a scavenger hunt for the whole senior class. The kids are led throughout the city and into the nighttime desert. Their goal is the wonderful prize promised to the winner. But for Carl, a troubled young man who has recently lost his best friend, the hunt will become a nightmare.
Here we go, in the usual bullet point style!
- Let it be said that this is the first book in Pike’s catalog where he genuinely goes completely off-the rails batshit. Just like, complete outer space crazy talk. I don’t remember reading this one when I was younger unlike most of his books – and believe me when I say I’d remember reading this one – and the further on I went the more I was like “Um, what?”
- In one scene, Davey is wearing “tight white slacks and a red half-button shirt.” O M GOD. Really? Was this the late 80s or the height of the disco era? Is this Davey?
Carl’s goal is Stayin’ Alive. Get it? Pun.
- In typical dumb dude fashion, Carl is lusting after the hot/slutty girl who ends up nearly murdering him while ignoring the cute, sweet girl who is willing to risk her life for him. Which only leads me to believe that he’s not worth risking his life over, but hey, what do I know?
- There are two scenes of animal murder in this book that are SO UNCALLED FOR. NO THANK YOU ON ANIMAL MURDER, PLEASE. Authors: nobody really likes this. Kill all the dumb guys and slutty girls you want, but I have to take a stand against animal killing.
- Let me ask this question – who in the name of holy balls actually skinny dips in their own pool in front of a group of dudes? Answer: nobody. And if you find a girl who does this, be sure to bring your Valtrex as well as your water wings.
- Does anyone else know that movie from the 80s called Midnight Madness? It was about a college scavenger hunt with all kinds of opposing stereotypical groups – jocks, nerds, delinquents, an unpopular sorority full of overweight twins and a woman who had a disturbing bowl hair cut, etc. It was Michael J. Fox’s first movie? No? Not ringing any bells? Well first of all, find it and watch it. It is AWESOME in terms of 80s nostalgia and actually a pretty funny movie. Second of all, this book kind of reminded me of a mean-spirited Midnight Madness, except instead of a Pee-Wee Herman cameo role it has people getting brutally murdered as human sacrifices.
- At one point it’s mentioned that nobody in town can afford a CD player. OK, fine, they were probably still kind of pricey when this book was written (although I was like 12 and I had one, but whatever). The technology was still fairly new at that point. But apparently nobody can afford musical instruments either, so I guess they’re basically living in a shantytown or a Hooverville.
- Hints of incest. No please. Even though it doesn’t actually turn out to be incest. Or probably not. It’s really pretty unclear. Still gross.
- LIZARD PEOPLE? Srsly? You’re killin’ me, smalls. Actually, that’s fairly tame compared to what I was pretty sure was going to happen based on events. I legit thought that they were going to turn out to be dinosaurs disguised as people. Or maybe they were and I was just so confused at that point that I don’t fully understand what was going on.
- Things got kind of religious-y at the end and it made me uncomfortable. I’m all for freedom of whatever but in a book about a scavenger hunt run by lizard people collecting victims for their human sacrifices to keep them immortal it just seemed a little out of place.
Still love, you C-Pike.
Posted by attackthestacks on September 28, 2012
I Got Class(ics) is a meme created here at Attack the Stacks which celebrates the awesome and oft-ridiculous books I enjoyed while growing up. Some are actual classics, most are personal classics.
Gimme a Kiss
By Christopher Pike
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 10, 1988
Jane Retton would never let anyone read her diary filled with her wildest secrets. Then somehow her diary ended up at school. And soon, everyone was reading her final, shocking entry. Some girls would simply die. Other girls would kill. But Jane Retton–she would do both.
As per usual with I Got Class(ics) these reviews are done in a clever (not clever) bullet point list style instead of a regular review that utilizes actual paragraphs. There will also be spoilers.
- First of all, let’s talk about that cover. I think this is not the original cover but one that was done to “improve” upon the original. What in the actual balls is going on here? Is that the lost city of Atlantis? And if so, why is it on fire? Or is the water itself on fire? Is that the Cuyahoga River? Whose dinghy is on the right? Is it the Love Boat? Is that creepy disembodied head floating in the water, or did she see a ghost? Medusa, is that you? Has there ever been a creepier disembodied head in the history of all forms of media?
Today’s secret words are “night terrors.”
- Who actually says “gimme a kiss” when they want some affection? I mean, aside from your mother trying to plant one on you at Christmas? Maybe it’s just me, but I like a little more annunciation and a little less bossiness when someone is requesting a kiss from me.
- This book made me really glad that I was never a diary person. Think about it. Pretty much every sitcom or drama EVER has had an episode where somebody reads someone else’s diary and angst and/or wackiness ensues. Keeping a diary never ends well. Never. Best case scenario: your parents find your diary and you have to explain the term “sex bbq.” Worst case scenario: someone photocopies pages where you have written a fictional story about getting naked & sweaty with your boyfriend and you end up hatching an elaborate plan to make them think that they’ve accidentally killed you.
- Going to guess that Christopher Pike is a dog owner and not a cat owner, because at one point he actually refers to cats as “bloodthirsty.” Really? Are they domestic house cats or rabid pumas? The only time my cats have ever approached anything close to bloodthirsty is when I break out the catnip, and once I actually supply them with product they forget that I exist and busy themselves mainlining it.
- School counselor RED FLAG ALERT. At one point after the diary business has transpired he actually tells her that he’s proud of her for expressing her sexuality. Putting aside that no teacher has ever said this to a student ever without ending up behind bars, the dude would have a job for, like, ten seconds. He came off as basically Hugh Hefner, Guidance Counselor.
- Patty Brane is the bitch of the century. I guess I’d be a miserable hag too if my last name was BRANE.
- This book is peppered with leftover slang from the 70s to the point that I was actually giggling over it. I kept waiting for one character to invite another over to his pad so that they could have a rap session.
- Putting aside the complete ludicrousness of it – not to mention the utter futility and pointlessness – Jane’s plan is actually kind of ingenious. I enjoy her ideas and would like to subscribe to her newsletter.
- The thing that started this chain reaction of fuckery in motion – resulting in evil genius plots, deaths, burned homes, ruined trips, arrests, near murders, etc. – is herpes. HERPES. I shit you not. I guess they didn’t have antibiotics in the late 80s.
You’re my boy, Christopher Pike. Forever.
Posted by attackthestacks on August 10, 2012
Welcome to I Got Class(ics), my meme here at Attack the Stacks where I read and review classic books from my youth, and occasionally the actual classic. But mostly books I liked growing up.
By Christopher Pike
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: March 10, 1988
They found Karen Holly dead in the mountain stream and thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage. Now Jason has a new girlfriend, and together with some new kids in town is returning to the place where Karen was killed. Some will die. The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.
Hey, this book has a character with my name! Someone other than half of my friends’ moms shares my name! Awesome! Oh no wait…she’s dead before the book even starts. Nevermind.
As usual, these reviews will be done in “hey, this is interesting” bullet point style instead of a nice analytical (or as analytical as I get) review. I have more fun with them that way. And there are major spoilers.
- So, Cindy. Cindy is dating a guy who may or may not have murdered his previous girlfriend. I mean, he proooobably didn’t, so it’s ok, right? I don’t claim to be an expert on dating or relationships or anything but this doesn’t seem like the wisest choice of a mate to me. I know from experience that the pickings in the dating pool tend to be slim (and if they’re bad right now I can only imagine what they were like in 1988 – every guy probably had a mullet and drove an IROC) but still…you won’t care how cute or rich he is when he’s cleaving your skull with an axe.
On second thought, maybe the axe murderer doesn’t sound quite so bad.
- We find out on page 9 that Cindy has a dog named Wolf who is…wait for it…almost entirely wolf. Yep, almost no domestic dog at all in his blood. And he’s been taught to sic but only responds to that command if it comes from Cindy. GEE, I WONDER WHERE THIS IS GOING TO GO?
- Cindy is worried that her brother, Alex, will never date. I mean, he just got his drivers license but he’s never asked anyone out. He’s 16 and not dating! He’s one step and a penis from being a crazy cat lady! Am I the only one who finds it weird that an older sister would push her younger brother to start dating and/or interfere with his love life? I’m an older sister to a younger brother and trust me, when he was 16, the less I knew about his personal life the happier we both were. If I’d have started snooping around in or making snarky comments about his dating life he would have murdered me in my sleep.
- Another “ugly” best friend. Pam is short, has a big nose and her backside is chunky, but she somehow “avoids being a dog.” Cindy thinks that it’s because she’s always ready for a good time – in other words, she gives it up. Apparently willingness to have sex somehow is able to manipulate your appearance or something? As someone who is short and has a bit of a chunky backside (chunkier now than when I was in high school, granted) I can’t even tell you how rage-inducing I find reading something like this, especially in a YA book. Hey…if you’re short and a little chunky and your nose is on the large side it doesn’t make you ugly. Saying that it does is dumb. I’ve noticed the trend in Pike’s books that the heroine is always a slim long-legged type with a tan and long flowing hair. I know this isn’t unique to him but the habit of creating an “ugly” friend who isn’t built like a supermodel as a foil to the gorgeous protagonist is a pattern in his books. And hey, I’m not hating on the pretty girl either – I abhor girl-on-girl violence and I think there’s plenty of room for all types. But still, come on. You don’t have to be a supermodel to be pretty and having a little junk on the trunk doesn’t mean that you have to be a ho in order to not be considered ugly.
- I feel like a broken record here, but tanning is BAD FOR YOU. If you’re going to do it that’s your business, but it shouldn’t be encouraged in YA books. You might not think it’s a big deal while you’re a teenager, but it is. Trust me. While these tan goddesses may look good now, they’re going to look like an alligator handbag by the time they hit 30. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand. And those of us who remain ghastly and pale year round? We’re still getting carded buying liquor in our mid-30s. So there. Ahem…rant over.
- If your boyfriend maybe possibly didn’t kill somebody, don’t return to the scene of the crime with him. Even if you don’t think he did it. It’s always best not to push your luck.
- I seriously don’t remember reading this book at all. I thought I had read the entire Pike catalog but I’m wondering if I may have skipped this one? I don’t remember a single thing about it.
- Possibly one of the most melodramatic reactions to anything ever – one of the characters, upon hearing of the death of another, actually says “damn this world!” Damn this world. Lulz.
- At one point the sheriff of the tiny town of Timber, WY decides that he no longer feels safe raising his children there and decides to pack up and flee to the much safer confines of Los Angeles. What? And please don’t misunderstand, I’m not putting down LA in any way, but I do have a hard time believing that the crime rate there is lower than a small town in Wyoming. Call it a hunch.
- Murderer or no murderer, Jason is a dickbag.
- I hated the ending. Hated it. Who is mean to a blind old parrot and lets a vulture spirit enter its body willy nilly? Bitch move, Cindy. Bitch move. And it kinda made me think of this:
I still love you Christopher Pike. Even if your aversion to overweight women borders on pathological and the ending of this book was totally uncalled for.
Posted by attackthestacks on June 15, 2012
Welcome to my feature here at Attack the Stacks called I Got Class(ics), where I review both personal classics from my youth and books that are actually considered classics. The name is punny. Get it? Class(ics)? It’s funny because in reality I have very, very little class.
Today’s review is yet another Christopher Pike book. SHOCKING.
By Christopher Pike
Published by Archway Paperbacks
A group of high school seniors put on a play about murder. When one of the leading ladies is shot, another actress must ferret out the killer.
As usual for this feature, my observations will be presented in a nifty bulleted list. And as always, spoilers ahoy.
- This is the first Pike I’m re-reading as an adult where I remember absolutely nothing about it. This leads me to believe that it wasn’t one of my favorites then, and it’s still not one of my favorites now.
- In one of the most colossal dick moves of all time, Melanie’s boyfriend breaks up with her BY SNAIL MAIL. I’m pretty sure telephones existed back in the 1980s so this is an unforgivable transgression. Sort of like a retro version of the email breakup (which I have been a victim of and please do not do this to someone because it’s really very shitty and rude). Also? He threw her over for a girl named Judy who he met while – I shit you not – playing Centipede at the arcade at the mall. Centipede. Arcade. THE MALL! Well actually, I guess malls still exist. Still, how 80s can you get there?
- Since when do students direct plays? or do they? They never did at my school, probably because some joker would have put on a production of Boogie Nights or something. No, we always had adults directing our plays.
“And you tell me you’ve got some P.E. teacher directing? That makes me want to puke all over your head, sir.”
- The douchey guy in the book wears leather pants. I thought this was a work of fiction! And he’s violent over a role in the school play. Step down, girlfriend. Stop dressing like a member of Skid Row if you want a role in an Iowa high school play. But wait…what’s this? It’s the guy who already HAS the starring role in a play! He’s just pretending to be an unstable lunatic!
- I never did plays in high school but if Pike’s book is realistic in any way, it certainly did attract the drama llamas.
- Melanie orders milk on a date. When a hot guy agrees to go out with her, her reaction is “Oh, neat!” Frankly, she should be behind bars. This was the 80s, not the 50s. Have a little pride.
- Melanie makes herself exceptionally annoying by continuing to ask the guy she’s currently on a date with/dancing with/kissing about his feeling for another (hotter) girl. Ladies, don’t be dumb.
- There is no way on this earth that high school kids are allowed to use a real gun for a school play. The entire PTA would spontaneously combust. Plus, who would even WANT to? I’m not letting some teenager point a gun at me, even if they say it’s unloaded or filled with blanks. That’s just crazy talk. Even when I WAS a teenager I didn’t trust teenagers. It’s such a preposterous idea that is so central to the events of the story that I had a hard time getting past it.
- After their co-actor/classmate has been murdered, they decide to get together to re-enact it. Ok, that’s kind of a Scooby Doo solution, but whatever. I can see it happening, I suppose. But their “re-enactment” took place in front of a crowd. They sold tickets to a murder re-enactment! That school is really looking to recoup their costs for putting on the play.
- I enjoyed that in the heat of a catfight involving gun play, the first insult to spring to mind – by someone who has already murdered one rival and is in the process of attempting to murder another – is “you little pipsqueak!” Because it’s ok to shoot someone in the face, but you’d better watch that potty mouth.
I liked this one less than the Pikes I’ve re-read and reviewed previously, but it still has his trademark teenage insanity.
Posted by attackthestacks on April 10, 2012
Welcome to I Got Class(ics), my feature here at Attack the Stacks that celebrates classics from my youth, and very occasionally, real classics. This week’s classic is:
By Christopher Pike
Published by Harper Teen
When Alison first read the chain letter signed “Your Caretaker,” she thought it was some terrible sick joke. Someone, somewhere knew about tha tawful night when she and six other friends committed an unthinkable crime in the desolate California desert. And now that person was determined to make them pay for it.One by one, the chain letter was coming to each of them … demanding dangerous, impossible deeds… threatening violence if the demands were not met. No one out of the seven wanted to believe that this nightmare was really happening to them. Until the accidents started happening — and the dying…
I have to say that sadly, Chain Letter didn’t hold up to time for me as well as Slumber Party and Weekend did. Not that it was bad, because it wasn’t – and ‘bad” is really relative anyway – it was just lacking something that the other two books had. I don’t know exactly what. A gleeful evilness, maybe. A joy at completely destroying the lives of deserving teenagers. Instead we get a bunch of “victims” who really suck because they’re all complicit in some way, and a villain who you really kind of end up feeling sorry for, even though he’s obviously completely and totally batshit insane.
What Chain Letter teaches us (spoilers ahoy):
- Chain letters existed before the internet got big. Who knew? And even back then, they were threatening you with horrible punishment if you didn’t follow their inane instructions to the letter before sending them on to the next unwilling victim. Unlike current chain letters, though, this chain letter didn’t cause a fabulous money saving coupon to pop up on your screen when you sent it along to the next schmuck (that does not really happen, people…stop sending chain emails).
- This is basically an 80s version of I Know What You Did Last Summer. Like literally, the plots are the same. I’ve never read the book but I did see the movie, which caused me to picture Alison as Jennifer Love Hewitt the entire time I read the book.
- Nostalgia value is high with this one. People are still sending letters in the mail! They use classified ads instead of Craigslist! VCRs instead of streaming Netflix! CD players instead of iPods! It’s like someone found a flux capacitor and sent us all back to 1985.
- Reason #727 why I don’t miss going to high school: “If only he’d get a decent hair cut and some new clothes, he’d be more popular.” Oh, high school. Where your social caste is based on what kind of jeans you’ve got on and whether you’ve got a super awesome spiral perm…oh wait, that’s me when I was in high school. For the record, I did have a seriously awesome spiral perm.
- Actual comment by a guy called Kipp: “Girls can’t be trusted.” You know who else can’t be trusted? Guys named Kipp with two p’s at the end, that’s who. Nice misogyny, Kipppp. It’s mentioned several times that he is the smart one. Apparently, ‘smart’ is interchangeable with ‘chauvinistic doucherocket.’
- One of the punishments for one of the characters is to make her spread a rumor that she is gay. She declines, apparently deciding that it’s better to be dead than thought of as a lesbian. Too bad the book didn’t take place 20 years into the future. She’d have probably already been pretending to be into girls so that guys would think she was hot.
- A deaf mute is referred to as “deaf and dumb.” A guy drops the insult “fa**ot” to insult another guy. The “grossly overweight” teacher is compared to a rippling bowl of Jello. Political correctness was not a big deal in the 80s. Apparently neither was not being an asshat.
- Pike’s “whiny unattractive girl” character track record remains intact in this book. Fran is such a whinging, joyless buzzkill that I was crossing my fingers that she’d be murdered. Quickly.
- Once again, Pike provides us with the most forgiving characters of all time. You kidnapped us, held us against our will (some of us for extended periods of time), made us humiliate ourselves in public, injured us, damaged our possessions, did major damage to our homes, and inflicted vast emotional torment…but hey, you’re our friend and you’re otherwise a great guy, and you didn’t ACTUALLY kill us, so we’ll let it slide just this once.
Posted by attackthestacks on March 15, 2012