Word count: 53400
Tiny synopsis: Angela’s friend Mary walks into a party and shoots two fellow students, claiming they are monsters. On closer inspection Angela realizes Mary was right- but now the monsters are after her.
Okay. I get why Christopher Pike is a highly successful author. Even with one book I could see he is incredibly imaginative, and I know he has written dozens of books (I count 62 on his Wiki page). I know they are on a wide range of topics—so he has imagination in spades. That being said, this book was not my cup of tea. I think this is partially due to style and in some ways about genre.
In terms of style, I found the language grating in many places. I wish I could find the quote I read out loud to Mike. It was a doozy. Since I can't find the quote, I'll say the language was sometimes overwrought and clunky. The characters were flat, almost caricatures: here’s the cheerleader, here’s the detective, here’s the smart new girl, here’s the boy that has a crush on her. I also feel his work goes for the cheap and easy thrills. Gratuitous sex, gratuitous killing, lots of gore. But, umm… that’s not exactly unheard of in horror, is it?
As for genre, I am just not a horror person. Long ago I read Stephen King. I liked it (I think my all-time favorites were Misery and The Stand) but in my old age I am less able to enjoy it. I adore good suspense, but horror not so much. Maybe this is a product of having kids?
I have never been a horror film fan. I remember going with my friend Christie to see Scream at the theater. I had heard it was funny. Nobody said “funny for a horror movie” or “a clever take on the horror genre”. I just thought it was supposed to be funny. It wasn’t. It freaked me out. I walked out and said “I didn’t know people were going to die!” to my friend. She didn’t realize I was clueless about the movie. That was when I didn’t have TV, so I was clueless about a lot. I recently watched Zombieland—parts of it were filmed in my hometown, and my brother-in-law plays an extra zombie. It totally gave me nightmares. I find that "edgy" movies I once loved are just too much for me now (for example anything by Quentin Tarrantino).
For reasons of both style and genre I was not crazy about this book. At the same time, I can recognize that I am not Pike’s target audience. I bet a horror fan or a teenager would love what he does. For me, I probably will not be reading another Christopher Pike book.
Let me emphasize: his imagination is exceptional. I think the part of his book that really drew me in was as Angela starts to become one of the monsters. She dreams about the origins of the monsters on their own planet, and it was really creative and fascinating. He could have easily said “they’re from space” and left it at that, but he went the extra mile to invent a culture for the aliens. What’s more: he related their entire history in about a page and a half. He’s talented and creative, but it’s just not my thing.