Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monster (Christopher Pike)

I’ve read this book a few times lately and every time, go into it thinking that I don’t really like it, but then I remember that I do. Maybe because there aren’t any sci-fi elements or aliens in it! Well there are alien like things, but not like in his later books.

Angela is a fairly new kid at school, who somehow gets invited to a party with all the popular kids. Her best friend Mary walks into the party, brandishing a shotgun. Without saying a word, she blows away football player Todd and cheerleader Kathy. Five seconds later, she points the gun at her own boyfriend Jim.

Angela stops her by screaming and Mary retaliates by kicking her in the face. Jim, who’s basically a big pussy, runs off into the woods, with Mary hot on his tale. Angela follows and runs into Lieutenant Nguyen, who listens to what she says and then goes after Mary. Angela wanders into the woods and runs into Jim. Mary pops up and tells them that Jim “isn’t human” and nearly kills him, before Nguyen stops her.

Nguyen brings Angela in, but mainly to ask her questions about Mary and Jim. You just know that he thinks it was a lover’s spat gone wrong. Or maybe she caught Todd, Jim and Kathy in some kinky three-way. Angela gets in to see her former bestie and thinks the girl’s gone nuts. Mary rants about how they were some kind of monsters, saying that she once saw Kathy lift over 1,000 pounds in the gym. She also reveals that she followed the three one night and saw them pick up some people in a club. Ooh, kinky. They went to a warehouse and came out alone. She went in and found blood on the floor. Nguyen tapes their conversation and thinks Mary is nuts, but then decides to check around and see what he can find.

Jim is apparently feeling no pain by what happened because at the funerals, he asks Angela out. His story is that he tried to break up with her and she went crazy, even threatening Kathy. I had some bad breakups in high school, but never went on a killing rampage. Angela goes home and finds the house empty, which isn’t surprising. She lives with her grandpa, who apparently has a jones for young ladies and frequently disappears for days or weeks.

She sees their dog Plastic, looking at the lake and thinks it’s funny that the dog never goes into it. Her buggy Kevin comes over and they flirt a little. He’s got a huge crush on her and she cock teases him, but never ponies up. He tells her about how (before she came to town), a bunch of kids got sick, mainly athletes and cheerleaders. Experts came in from around the world, but couldn’t figure out what happened.

Away to the library they go! Angela discovers that Point Lake was formed when a meteor crash landed. Kevin tells her that most people get their water from the lake, but some get it from private wells. Angela finds this all interesting, but not as interesting as Jim. She races off to the football game, where she watches Jim run around like a superstar.

The two go out to dinner and she notices that Jim eats pretty much everything, only stopping at the tablecloth. He nearly causes the propane tank outside their house to blow up, when he hits it and rather than being a little freaked out, she takes a walk with him. He tells her that he wanted to date her, which is what set Mary off. I call bull shit on this one.

Jim ditches her, to go swimming in the lake and then chases her for a bit, trying to get her to go with him. He cuts open his arm on a tree branch and even that doesn’t deter him. Then again, he is a 17 year old boy. They start making out, he goes for her ass and her breasts and then she realizes that he’s bleeding all over her. Wow, what a way to kill the mood. Angela fixes him up, makes him go home and then has a dream about the world being hungry and bleeding rain.

She wakes up feeling squeamish, as would I after a bleeding rain dream. Angela talks to Kevin, who tells her that the team sucked ass last year and Jim could barely throw a ball, which makes their sudden winning streak a little odd. He also tells her that an opposing team player was nearly killed when someone hit him on the field.

Angela wants to see Mary and makes Kevin stop at McDonald’s, where she eats everything in sight. Mary immediately notices something different and asks if he went after her. Mary says that Jim will probably kill her, on his way to get her. She gets some more info on the warehouse from Mary and they head off to find it. They manage to find some dried blood there and she starts to feel even worse. Once again, that doesn’t stop her from seeing Jim and eating a ton of food on the way home, including an extra rare burger at McDonald’s. Um, am I the only one who realizes you can’t order a burger like that?

Angela goes back to the library and asks for info on Native Americans and the meteor. She gets an article on the meteor, which compares the crash to a similar one that happened in South America. The author, Alan Spark, is at the University of Michigan, which is conveniently close by. She also discovers that the Indians never drank from the lake and urged settlers to follow.

She then goes to see an old guy by the name of Shining Feather, who knows everything about the tribes that once lived there. After stopping for another snack, she meets with Shining Feather, who pretends like he can’t speak English. He refuses to talk about the lake and starts getting agitated when she asks about names she found in her readings. She tells him that students are turning into Katuu and he tells her that’s an evil word. He tells her that before people change, they suddenly get hungry. He grabs her and calls her Katuu. Then he gives her a necklace with a headless bat pendant and tells her to wear it.

Angela stops for some more food on the way home and finds Jim waiting for her. She cooks a few steaks for 3-5 seconds and then they go off together. She does notice that he seems less interested in her than he did before. Of course he does! He got what every teenage boy wants: to implant their alien species in you! They go back to her house, go swimming and make out for awhile. He bites her tongue, she starts bleeding all over the place and they just keep going at it.

During a quick nap, she has yet another dream. She dreams that she came to earth in a human form and was accepted by the humans. Then she turned into some flying creature and hid herself away. The humans come after her and make her watch as they decapitate one of the creatures. Her dream self says that more will come and take form on earth, right before she’s decapitated. She sees Jim for a few minutes when she wakes up, but then he disappears. While researching at the lake, he found a magnetized fossil or something that had a weird DNA structure inside.

She decides to visit the college and talk to the professor who wrote the paper. He tells her about electric wires giving off magnetic fields and how those fields disrupt the human body. He thinks the rays/fields somehow damaged the water. The same structure was found in the South American meteor lake. The Indians in the area used the word Kalair to describe creatures that came from the water. She tells him about people getting sick and he points out that the sickos are the ones drinking the most water. She leaves when she imagines eating him and has some more Micky D’s.

That’s where she learns Mary was released on bail and immediately goes to her family cabin, where she finds a dead cop and a dead Mary. She realizes that the monsters set it up to look like Mary killed the cop before killing herself. She can’t stop herself from tasting Mary’s blood, which is right when Nguyen walks in, but he lets her go.

Angela is so hungry when she gets home that she almost eats Plastic, but Jim stops her. He tells her that he ate her grandpa and forged a note from her. She finds his body in pieces and cries a lot. Then she decides to blow up her house and kill all the monsters.

She drives around, buys a bunch of gas and sets it up at her house. Nguyen finds the warehouse and tests it, determining that four people donated to the sample. He goes to see the mortician, who shows him the blood from the dead teens at the beginning. It has some kind of green shit inside that seems to be crawling towards fresh blood.

Angela invites over all the peeps and Jim arrives last, with Kevin in tow. She tries to make him leave, but when he won’t, Jim knocks him out and then knocks her out too. She has a dream that kind of explains the whole thing, but it’s really long and boring. Something to do with the earth needing live blood because of the iron inside and how that’s connected to the magnetic fields. I don’t know, I just like the rest of the book. Something like humans were here and aliens attacked, killing them all off. They came back and started the world again.

Angela wakes up and gives Kevin the abbreviated version of the story, including her plans to blow everything up. She can’t find her lighter, so she makes a fire by rubbing two sticks together. Someone was in Girl Scouts. Kevin tries to deter her, but she knows that he’ll die in the explosion or when the aliens attack. They start kissing, she bites him and then realizing that she doesn’t want to turn him, she breaks his neck. Nice. I think I see why she only had two friends.

Eating Kevin, turns Angela into one of the monsters. She wanders upstairs, takes a shower and sees some stuff from her life, including the headless bat amulet, which she puts on. That’s enough to turn her back into herself. She lies to Jim and makes him think she turned, also tries to push Plastic outside while she grabs her lighter.

She also stabs Jim in the neck, which is awesome and lights her fuses. She gets blown into the lake, while the rest of the house explodes. Nguyen goes to the cemetery and hears noises coming from Todd’s grave. Realizing that the girls were telling the truth, he runs to her house and gets there just as it explodes.

Nguyen goes back to the site of the explosion three months later. He’s with Plastic, who he found on the beach after the explosion and who’s now death. He thinks about how someone blew up oil wells in the area, which caused the oil to spill into the water and make the water useless. As he walks off, some weird creature flies into the woods, watching him. It has a headless bat amulet on and remembers that it can’t eat people….


  1. I love that you've been recapping some Christopher Pike books lately!

  2. I have a bunch of them! When I first started buying the YA books, I was fixated on finding all of his books first. Then I kept coming across SVH books instead lol

  3. This always seemed like one of the goriest and weirdest Christopher Pike books (and that's saying a lot). I think I re-read this one a billion times, because it gave me the creeps.

    I re-read it about a year ago and it still freaked me out.

  4. It always bugged me that she orders a rare burger at McDonald's, too. Aren't their patties frozen before they're made? So "rare" would just mean... a burgersicle? I dunno, maybe it was different in 1992.

    The ending to this one is great. People are not for eating.

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers this book! I read it when I was about 13, and it changed the direction of my writing career (not that I realised that until now).

  6. I'm not sure I read it when I was a teen, or if I read it later. I started buying all the Pike books in my early 20s, which might be why I remember it so well!

  7. This may help me pass my test over the book I started reading it and forgot the test was due two days later

  8. Wait, there are schools using this for teaching? Man, things have changed since I was in school LOL

  9. Thanks jenn. I'd been Jonesing for a recap of this book. It had been fading from my synapses. Your review was perfect!

    1. Thanks! I think this is definitely one of those books that sticks with you :)

  10. I too thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've never forgotten it. it's one of my favorites. great recap!

  11. I realize I'm commenting 7 years later but this and Whisper of Death were my 2 favorites as a teen! I'm currently watching Jennifer's Body and kept thinking it reminded me of this book. I haven't read it in roughly 20 years but I still feel like the guys who wrote this movie must've read this book!

    1. IIRC, Diablo Cody wrote Jennifer's Body. I wasn't a very big fan of that movie though, so I'm hoping she actually doesn't wind up doing the SVH screenplay!