Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil (Christopher Pike)


Fran comes home from working at McDonald's to find a purple envelope in the mailbox. Naturally, it is a new chain letter sent just to her.

The book then jumps to Tony and Alison. They planned to both attend college in LA and stay together, but then Alison got accepted into NYU and decided to move across the country. They haven't had sex lately and they just keep fighting about her move. She's pissed that he brought it up yet again before they could have sex, while he's pissed that she's leaving him behind. He eventually walks out on her and seemingly breaks up with her.

Since she has plans to go shopping for school clothes with Brenda, she heads over to her friend's house. Brenda says that Fran called her, so they head over there. Fran tells them about the letter, which has her task hidden in a secret message in the classified ads. They read the message, and it tells her to drown her puppy. Alison calls the other friends, but no one answers their phones.

Tony heads to the mall, half expecting to run into Alison shopping. After grabbing some food, he sits down by the fountain and makes a wish. A random woman starts talking to him and introduces herself as Sasha. He lies, telling her he goes to UCLA and they do a little flirting, though he is supposedly guilty since he still has a girlfriend. Sasha says that he looks like he has a back injury and gives him her number, telling him to call if he wants a deep tissue massage.

Tony heads over to Kipp's house who just got a message from Alison. Tony calls Fran and Alison tells him about the letter. He offers to call Joan, but it turns out that she's on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere. They all wonder if someone in their group is playing a prank before wondering if someone knew what happened to them before.

Then, the book jumps to this guy Eric. He always wanted to be a detective, but he had ear infections that left him almost totally deaf. His uncle works as a desk jockey and gives him the code that lets him read the police files, which will supposedly help him when he starts working as a private investigator. He randomly comes across Neil's file and realizes that there's something wonky. Neil was identified by his emerald ring, but Eric knows that emeralds melt easily in heat. He contacts Neil's former dentist and gets a copy of his X-rays, which help him discover that the body found burned in the house was someone else.

Alison wakes up in the middle of the night and hears sirens nearby. The phone rings, and it's Fran's mom. The police called and asked her to come to the hospital because of Fran, but she can't find her glasses and her husband is out of town. Alison calls Tony and he picks up the mom, and they all meet at the hospital. They try to reassure her that she's fine, but then the doctor announces that she died.

Alison manages to track down one of the officers who grudgingly tells her that Fran hit a tree and was somehow decapitated in the accident. They all gather together the next day, and Alison is the only one who finds it odd that Fran died immediately after refusing to do what the note writer asked. Kipp got his message, which told him to burn the arm of his beloved little sister. They all agree that he should get out of town instantly. Tony and Alison exchange words, and he immediately storms off to take a run by himself.

When he gets back in the car, he finds Sasha's number and calls her. She invites him to meet her for a drink so he swings by her apartment. After noticing that it smells medicinal, she tells him that it must come from her working at the hospital and changes the subject. They go dancing, have a few drinks, and then she asks him about his girlfriend. When he says that Alison wouldn't be with anyone else, Sasha suggests driving by her house to check it out.

Meanwhile, Alison decides to take a drive to clear her mind and winds up by the lake. As she sKipps a few stones, a mysterious man pops up next to her. He seems to know her and invites her into his cabin for a cup of tea. He makes a few cryptic comments about how love will save them all and that there is someone who can help. She leaves, then checks the cabin, and finds that it's completely empty and looks like no one lived there for years.

One of the things that “Chris” said sends her back to Neil's house. She finds a weird guy poking around, which is actually Eric. He tells her that he works for the police, but finally admits that he found the file. They go to Denny's to talk about the case, and she ends up telling him what really happened and the notes they recently got. Eric uses the information to find the guy who they hit that night in the first book: James Whiting. He takes her number and agrees to help her, and she gives him a kiss on the cheek.

Tony sees it happen, and Sasha tells him that it's okay and takes him back to her place. She has him get undressed and gives him a long massage before he falls asleep. Tony has an intense dream of Kipp burning to death, wakes up, and calls him at his aunt's house. After getting off the phone, he tries to leave and Sasha basically seduces him. She takes him into the bedroom and makes out with him, and he confesses everything to her.

Alison wakes up to Brenda calling because Kipp is dead, burned to death early that morning. She's next on the list and wants everyone to stay away from her. Alison gathers everyone together for another meeting and Eric comes along. Brenda's message told her to cut off her trigger finger and give it to Joan. Tony gets belligerent and tries to walk away from the group. This is pretty much the moment that I start hating the fucker.

When she tries to talk to him, he calls her a whore and bitch. He tells her that he saw her with her new boyfriend and that it doesn't matter because he has someone new. He points out Sasha waiting in his car and says that he had sex with her. He gets in his car, they make out, and Alison realizes that there's something off about the woman.

Eric tracks down Whiting's brother who now runs his business and the man gives him the guy's former address. They go to see his wife Carol, and Alison tells her that they killed her husband. Carol is upset, but she tells them that her husband was already dead. It turns out that James was one a nice guy who got messed up in some weird shit.

He had an affair with a girl named Charlene who frequently came into his record shop. By the time his wife realized it, he was into drugs and other crazy stuff. She caught him using cocaine in their bathroom and threw him out. Charlene was a Satanist, which she discovered when she found dead animals buried in their backyard. She saw Charlene and her friends drag James out of the house one night and followed them to a warehouse.

They all came out alone, so she went to the police. The wife sneaked into the building and found blood, dead animals, and symbols everywhere. A few days later, she got a call that Charlene's body turned up. She killed herself by throwing her body on a knife, and her parents found her just before she died, giving her time to confess to his murder. She said that killing him would give her immortality. Alison immediately thinks about Sasha, and Carol explains that she knows her husband was already dead when they hit him, but she thanks them for trying to find his body.

Carol tells them that Charlene was actually named Jane, and they track down her parents. Her mother died, but her father still lives in the house. While Eric talks to him, Alison looks through the family pictures and realizes that Jane/Charlene is actually Sasha. Is anyone really surprised? Eric has to drag her from the house because she starts screaming and crying.

They decide to dig up Neil's body, but stop by Brenda's house first. She cut off her finger and delivered it to Joan, but she refuses to get medical attention. They rush off to the spot where Tony buried Neil in the last book. Meanwhile Tony has a nightmare that he's trapped in a metal room with Brenda who demands that he kill her or she will kill him. Then he sees Alison who tries to kill him before turning into Sasha. When he wakes up, Sasha tells him that Alison and her new boyfriend want to dig up the body and turn him into the police. Joan shows up, hands him a bag with the finger and one of her dad's guns inside, and tells him that it has his note too. The note tells him to blow Alison's brains out.

Sasha smacks Eric over the head and knocks him out, and Tony threatens to kill Alison. This recap is so long that I kind of want to just cover things quickly. Basically, they all fight, and Eric grabs Sasha's leg and pulls her into the grave. Tony keeps waving the gun around and pointing it at Alison. She flashes back to what the man said and realizes that Chris was probably Neil. She puts the gun against her chest and pulls the trigger herself.

That snaps Tony out of his little spell, and he shoots Sasha in the head. A man comes walking out of the middle of the desert and starts talking to them. Tony begs him to help and the man just keeps talking. A giant snake crawls out of Sasha's body and starts toward Alison, but the man steps on it and smashes it. He tells them that the Caretaker is now gone. He starts to walk off again, and Tony begs him again.

The man stops and tells them that Alison isn't actually dying. Joan switched the bullets with blanks to get back at the Caretaker. It tore up some of her skin, but she will survive. As he walks away, Tony realizes that the man is Neil and rushes to talk to him. Neil says that they will see each other again. Alison comes to and they help her to her feet. Eric wants to check on the gun, but Tony tells him to leave it alone and just believe in miracles, and then he and Alison kiss.

*Seriously Alison, you can't understand why Tony would be upset that you're moving across the freaking country? I guess if he suddenly up and moved to another city, you'd be fine with it.

*I'm not sure how Pike thinks colleges work, but most schools won't send a letter, telling a student that a spot opened TWO WEEKS before classes start.

*Carol handles things a whole lot better than I would. Giving the time frame in these books, it's only been about two years (or less) since everything happened and she's totally fine, she even still lives in their house!

*I totally want to believe that Tony was just an asshole who wanted an excuse to cheat on Alison. Eric didn't see the snake coming out of her head, so in my version of the story, he takes some drugs with Sasha and goes crazy.

*Supposedly, Charlene was embalmed before becoming immortal and she smells like embalming fluid. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't catch a whiff of that and believe it's alcohol like Tony does.

*Charlene apparently met Neil one day and kissed his knee, which led to the tumor that eventually killed him. Nice way to completely change the book series Pike.

*I'm not a big fan of this book at all. I enjoyed the first Chain Letter book, but this one feels unnecessary. It almost seems like he wrote one book and then decided that it needed to fit the craziness of his others. God forbid he just have a book about a guy who goes a little crazy and tries to kill his friends. Nope, it must be some ancient evil that took over his body.

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