Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Chain Letter by Christopher Pike (1986)

So, we can all agree that Christopher Pike is kind of a goofy writer. His brand of young adult fiction, while extremely appealing to the pre-driving set, is often melodramatic, stilted, and involves inconsistent characters, plots that don't make sense, and oddly detailed descriptions of the characters' hair. Chain Letter (1986) is no different, but maybe because it was one of the first Christoper Pike books I read in my youth, I feel it has a certain charm and consistency lacking in some of his later books.

In Chain Letter seven high school friends are piled into a car heading home after a rocking Beach Boys concert. [Note: I have been assured that in the early 80s, the pre-Kokomo Beach Boys would not have been a very cool band for a bunch of teenagers, including the "punk rock"/sex-crazed girl, to want to go see, but that is part of the charm of Christopher Pike]. They have all been drinking a little (you know how crazy those Beach Boys concerts get), and they get lost somewhere out in the country. Tony, the driver, loses control of the car and they go off the side of the road and into the brush. Oddly they hit a man with their car, even though they are in the middle of nowhere, and they find him dead by the side of the road. Freaking out, they hastily bury him in a shallow grave and vow never to tell anyone about it.

And then, one year later, they get the chain letter from "The Caretaker." Someone knows what they did and wants them to pay for it. One by one they receive tasks from The Caretaker, coded in the personal ads of the local newspaper. The tasks move from embarrassing to illegal, but if they refuse to do them, they are threatened with punishment. And then members of the group begin disappearing. Then dying.

The ending is a little goofy, and it doesn't make any sense at all that the grown-ups and parents would react to everything the way that they do, but there is a very nice climatic chase/attack scene and some good twists along the way. If you are feeling the need to re-visit some Christopher Pike, you won't be disappointed by Chain Letter.

And because I know you want it, here is a little hair-description for you:
Her clear-skinned oval face and wide generous mouth gave her the foundation for an above-average appearance. Plus her light brown hair had a natural sheen that none of them could duplicate with expensive shampoos and rinses.


Corie said...

Wow, an "above-average appearance!" Layin' it on a little thick, Christopher Pike!

Corie said...

PS: I think we still have your copy of Last Act.

Spacebeer said...

No hurry -- I've got plenty of Pike left in my "to read" pile. I seem to remember Last Act being particularly silly...