Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review of Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike

Name of book: Whisper of Death

Author Name: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-69058-2

Publisher: Archway Paperback, Simon and Schuster

Type of book: Young adult, horror, contemporary, science fiction

Year it was published: December 1991


Roxanne and Pepper are a teenager couple with problems. They leave their small town for a weekend to try and solver them. They don’t really succeed, and when they return home they find their town empty.
They call other towns.
They find the whole world empty.
But eventually they discover three other kids their age who are still alive in the town. They cannot imagine why the five of them seem to be the only ones left of the entire human race. They have only one thing in common. They were each directly or indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue-the plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short time ago. Betty Sue-the quiet, brilliant girl who wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world.
It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was.
Or what Betty Sue was."  

Characters:  This is written in first person and it's from Roxanne Wells' perspective. Roxanne's manner and speech struck me as a bit ignorant and humane. That is she tends to speak like others speak. She is reminiscent of someone who knows herself well. Roxanne and Pepper live in a poor town and both don't have plans or know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The characters, although slightly round and could easily be related to, seemed to lack the necessary change as the novel progressed. Despite the feeling, the characters are unique and highly enjoyable. 

Theme: Why did Christopher make a choice to write this novel? This will take a lot of deep thought to talk about. I think the theme is best expressed as Betty Sue's question towards the end of the novel. "'What would this world be if one child who was born had never been born? Would it be the same world?'...'That is the mystery. It would not be the same at all. It would be nothing.'" (164) The symbolism can also be used in this way; the deaths can be seen as failed abortions or miscarriages, the emptiness of the world can be seen as 'what if everyone, not just Roxanne, had abortions?' and I often now link the climate of the desert to the idea of a womb that kills instead of nourishes. 

Plot: The plot is very interesting and has a lot of twists that a reader will not expect. I would say that the plot is the main strength of the novel. The idea itself is very unusual; Roxanne and Pepper decide to abort a child, and then change their minds. So when they come back, they realize that the whole world is empty except them and few other teens. One by one everyone dies. The reader is instantly introduced to the characters and the "apparent" conflict. The climax of the novel is unexpected and so is the ending. The ending itself desires a sequel, although I will argue that the sequel will spoil the first novel. 

Author Information:  Christopher Pike wrote 30+ novels mainly for young adults, the most famous or well known one is The Last Vampire Saga, Final Friends and Remember Me, and his real name is Kevin McFadden. One of his books, Fall Into Darkness was created into a movie. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website, but there is a fan club that is devoted to him. (http://www.christopherpikefanclub.com/ ) 

Opinion: This is the second Christopher Pike novel I have touched many years ago. This is actually one of my favorites, perhaps due to unusual plot or the suspense in it. I used to always imagine that it took place in 1950s (don't know why,) and one thing that I always thought about was this sentence: "'We are born dead,' she says. 'It is just a matter of time before we realize it.' She touches her belly. 'The rare one realizes it even before emerging from the womb.'" (162). Whenever I read this novel as well, I felt that I was a teenager again in middle school, sitting in the class, liking a boy from afar while in front of me sat his ex girlfriend, (for some reason she always reminded me of Betty Sue, maybe its because of red hair or the fact she also always wrote in front of me and carried a binder,). The novel itself is a puzzle that I can't understand no matter how many times I read it. 

5 out of 5 
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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