There are many books I've read in my youth that mean something completely different to me today. Whisper of Death's actual meanings changed completelyThere are many books I've read in my youth that mean something completely different to me today. Whisper of Death's actual meanings changed completely because I never fully understood some of its plot points - I first read it in middle school and then a few times in high school. I always remembered it being one of my favourite Pike books, and maybe that was because it doesn't have a neat, happy ending.
However, there's an overarching storyline about the main character, Roxanne, getting an abortion. And to be sure, the story never gets preachy in any respect, but this is a storyline which had a larger context that I had no clue about in middle school. And so, it almost became more scary when I realized all the implications this time. The story's plot is also very Twilight Zone in the fact that five teenagers wake up to a town with nobody in it - and there's a reason why. Again, like Pike's other young adult books, there's a lot more going on in the heads of these characters, be it Sita's spirituality in The Last Vampire or Roxanne's mystification with the stars and Mars, in this book. Interestingly, Roxanne sees a movie called Season of Passage, which ended up being the title of an adult Pike book years later - about aliens from Mars.
I'm still enjoying my Pike retrospect at twenty-five; it's fun to connect to my younger self....more
**spoiler alert** I'm going to get fangirly in this, and also make a few comparisons to Twilight, just sayin'. It's SO much better. It's long and ther**spoiler alert** I'm going to get fangirly in this, and also make a few comparisons to Twilight, just sayin'. It's SO much better. It's long and there are lots of spoilers.
I've decided to unearth my Christopher Pike collection from my parents' basement, and the first book I went to was The Last Vampire, as I just finished reading that other young adult vampire series, Twilight. Basically, it's about 600 fewer pages, and so much more goes on...and the writing is worth a damn.
First, Pike's main character, a 5000-year-old beautiful vampire named Sita narrates the story in a way that explains all that being a vampire entails from kicking ass to living through history and demonstrating that no matter how inhuman she may be, she can still love and care for things and people. She's not unfeeling and murderous. Though, she is a murderer. She relates how she lived in the South during the Civil War and how soldiers roped her up and dragged her through a swamp while talking about what they would do with her later - and how she killed all twenty of them in particularly grueling ways for their treatment of her. During part of the book she pretends to be a high school student (she has looked about 18 years old for 5,000 years), and she almost shoots down a teacher during the gym archery practice because he's sleazy, hits on her, and she knows that he takes advantage of his female students. Basically: SHE KICKS ASS.
And you know what? There's sex. It's not gratuitous but Sita ends up naked a few times - once to wipe off the blood of a few assailants that attacked her, another time to seduce someone who has information she needs. But she doesn't sleep with him then, because she realizes that he reminds her of her husband in her human life, 5,000 years ago in ancient India.
"His remark - so simple, so innocent - pierces me like a dagger. No one in many years has said something as charming as 'I like you' to me. The sentiment is childish, I know, but it is there nevertheless. I reach to kiss him again, knowing this time I am going to squeeze him so tight he will not be able to resist making love to me. But something makes me stop."
Later, she realizes she loves this man, and she does have sex with him because she believes she's going to be assassinated soon (ps she's not THE last vampire). Sex is not a subject that's simply tread on and then avoided in the book, a la Twilight. And it's not something ridiculously gratuitous and offensive - it makes sense. I read these books when I was about twelve or thirteen, and all the sex (and violence, gore, and there's a storyline with a character with AIDS) was nothing that impeded on my morality - something that I simply couldn't take while reading Twilight.
And it's NOT BORING. Reading about Bella made me roll my eyes constantly with how much repetitiveness there was in the writing (stop idolizing Edward please) and how she had absolutely no personality. I think the fact that she was clumsy was supposed to make up for this? No. Sita, on the other hand, is fully drawn and embodies so many traits that make up the vampire she has been for 5,000 years. She is confident, observant, intelligent, caring, thoughtful and her awesome powers as a vampire only enhance these things with more of that kick-assness. Basically: I totally wanted to be Sita when I read this growing up. There's also so much action in the book, that only comes along in Twilight at the end when Meyer realized she probably needed something resembling a plot. The Last Vampire begins with Sita killing a man who has been following her; the story begins rolling from the first sentence, as the mystery opens with an anonymous person who is trying to track her down. She must figure out who it is, and why.
I haven't even talked about the way Pike has used India as a backdrop to Sita's beginnings and the way he infuses the story with Indian lore - like Krishna, whom Sita has met and refers to as a god, and possibly God. It's not so much religion that takes the main stage here, but faith and believing in something even if you believe you have no right to believe in anything.
Of course, this is a young adult novel - you have to take it for what it is in terms of writing and subject matter. This is no great feat in literary history, but it's miles above the drivel that is Twilight. I still love it, and I'm excited to continue the series....more
The book really throws you into the story with no exposition; four voices revolve in sections and not until a good deal into the book do you figure ouThe book really throws you into the story with no exposition; four voices revolve in sections and not until a good deal into the book do you figure out who they are and how they are related to each other. It didn't deter me, though I can see how it might for others. It calls for active reading, and I always enjoy that. There's also a lot of commentary through these characters on Colombia and its tumultuous history...it's definitely a bit hard to try to explain the novel, but I liked it because it was original and the writing was excellent. I enjoyed the narrative - and kept thinking about how hard it must have been to write four very distinct voices in such a manner. Also, references to Latina culture made me smile throughout....more