November 20, 2012

Christopher Pike: "Remember Me 2: The Return"

Title: Remember Me 2: The Return [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Remember Me (2nd of 3 books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 1994
Age: 12+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Well-established female lead (well, part of the time, that is). A sweet siblings reunion.
Cons: Very small action. No real mystery. Some clich├ęs. Some new age blurbs (if you're not into it). Weird and abrupt ending.
WARNING! Moderate sex references (though a not deliberately induced miscarriage is mentioned).
Will appeal to: Those who need more Shari Cooper.

Blurb: Shari Cooper is dead, the victim of a murderous attack. She is on the other side, but she is given a rare offer. To return to Earth into the body of a depressed teenage girl. Shari is given a chance to be a Wanderer, and to do a great service for humanity. It is an offer she gladly accepts. At first she recalls nothing of the afterlife. Perhaps it is just as well. Not everybody on Earth welcomes Wanderers. Of the few who know of their existence, some want them dead. And others, the truly evil ones, wish them much worse than that. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: When you reach perfection, you'd better not tamper with it. Most of the time, it doesn't work (very well).
There's no denying I was excited when I found out that there was more to Shari's story. And, to Pike's credit, it wasn't a three-or-four-books-deal era back when he wrote this. Nowadays, most books are born with a sequel, often two or three, already attached. Remember Me was originally a standalone book, till - after five long years - Pike was struck with inspiration (ahem, not sure) *, or maybe Shari possessed him too, after her brother (see RM, I mean book 1). So Remember Me 2: The Return came to life - and Shari with it. In the sense that she was actually back, flesh and all. Only, she wasn't really Shari anymore.
OK, first off, the blurbs about this book are deceiving. There's no conspiracy against the Wanderers in RM 2. Now, onto the actual review. Let's start from where RM finished (if you haven't read the book yet...spoiler alert!).




RM 2 opens a year after Shari's death, with a total different story about a total different character. Poor, Hispanic, can-see-no-future girl as opposed to rich, all-American, eager-to-live one. Wrong side of town, wrong boyfriend. We follow Jean to a disastrous birthday party (history repeating), at the end of which something happens to her - we're not sure of what. It seems it all turned right in the end though, because after the accident (?) Jean is apparently able to recover (while her bf Lenny, also involved, is crippled for life).
In the meantime, we also follow Shari (and later on, Peter) in the afterlife, chatting with a superior entity called the Rishi, a lot of new age blurb really - though I can't say I was annoyed by that. We learn that Shari can go back in someone else's body, if she agrees - and Peter too, but in his case, because he injuried his previous body by purposely ending up his own life, he can't go back in a healthy body, but must suffer a disadvantage of sorts. Guess whose body will Shari wear? and Peter?
[...]

It's only now that we learn how, on Earth, Shari is already in Jean's body, because the poor, Hispanic, can-see-no-future girl was badly injured in the accident, and ultimately decide to let go and embrace her wonderful dreams instead of returning to her dull everyday life. Only, Shari hasn't realized the switch yet, because Jean is still attached to her body somehow. Only when stumbling onto her former brother (she still looks upon him like that) Shari does remember who she is. Or was. Anyway, Shari and Jimmy's reunion is the most powerful episode in the book...I mean...the only one. After that...well, the book is already about to end, and I won't spoil the ending for you - though this is not a book you read for its ending. On the contrary...when you reach the last page, you're in for a HUGE disappointment. You're like, WTF is that? Abrupt, shallowly built, it sounds like the last sentence of a bad joke no one laughs at. OK, I'm sure you were able to figure out what happened by now (spoiler? not really, LOL - but still...here it is!).



But this is not the real issue. The real issue is, the ending royally SUCKS. Besides loosely hinting at a possible future installment of the story...which will be released a year later (so I guess it was meant to be this time).
I forgot to mention Jean-Shari begins to write stories after her accident, and we are treated to a fairly weird (and long) one along the way. As you may have read in my Christopher Pike Room, I think short stories are not the kind of stuff he handles best. And I found this one rather disturbing.
All in all, this isn't an awful book, but mainly because it has Shari in it. Sort of. It is uneven though, and in need of a huge makeover. I'm not suggesting that you stay away from it, but be aware of its faults.


* NOTE, MAR 2013: from "Christopher Pike discusses his novels Part 1" (on C. Pike FB page - Nov 19, 2012):
"Chain Letter quickly blew past a million copies.
Why did I write a sequel? I was offered a lot of money, and I wanted to keep my publisher happy. That’s the same reason I wrote two sequels to Remember Me. Obviously neither of those books were meant to have sequel".


I wasn't privy to this info when I wrote the above review. Interesting...
Also, it's kind of funny that Pike posted it on his FB page the day before I blogged about RM 2. I only read his post weeks later, go figure.

For my review of "Remember Me" (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of "Remember Me 3: The Last Story" (third installment in the series) click here
For more books by Christopher Pike click here.

RM Vol.1-2 + RM Vol.2-3


On the right: The Remember Me trilogy
was split in two books for this 2010 edition
by Hodder Children's Books. And the second
girl may have something in common with
Shari as Jean Rodriguez, but sure the first
one looks nothing like the original Shari!

2 comments:

  1. "Chain Letter quickly blew past a million copies.
    Why did I write a sequel? I was offered a lot of money, and I wanted to keep my publisher happy. That’s the same reason I wrote two sequels to Remember Me. Obviously neither of those books were meant to have sequel".

    Ooh, I didn't know this! That makes sense for how disconnected the sequels seem from the first books. On the other hand, it's baffling to me that something as strange as Remember Me 2 was written for money. It's a weird book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First off, thank you for wiping the dust from this old post (it was only my 4th, and my 2nd review!). If it weren't for you, these old reviews of mine wouldn't probably get any comments LOL.

      Yep, this is a weird book, but I suppose even back then CP needed an outlet for his rising interest in eastern spirituality. And people usually do buy sequels, at least out of curiousity. On the other hand, most readers seem to hate (or at least dislike) both sequels. I think the fact that RM is such a perfect little book (with a solid conclusion, too) has a lot to do with the disappointment towards the other installments in the series - but then again, the whole new age angle doesn't seem to sit well with everyone, and the way Pike twisted Shari's and Peter's story (especially in Book 3) left a sour taste in many mouths...

      Delete

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