July 21, 2013

Christopher Pike: "See You Later"

Title: See You Later [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Christopher Pike  [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 1990
Age: 12+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Quirky time travel quest and completely tolerable not over-romantic love story/love triangle rolled into one.
Cons: Far-fetched and hugely eclectic (Pike's main trademark): sci-fi and spiritualism, Third World War and first love - don't go there if you don't want too much on your plate. Also, the writing is a bit stiff - but then again, that's Pike, folks.
Will appeal to: Time travel aficionados (but not puristic sci-fi fans). Believers in the power of love.

Blurb: Mark has just fallen in love for the first time. Her name is Becky and unfortunately for Mark, she already has a boyfriend. Mark tries his best, but he is unable to win Becky for himself - until he meets Vincent and Kara and strange things start to happen. (Amazon)

Review: What if you met yourself in the past? No, wait, I saw you yawning. (Been there, read that!). What if you accidentally killed yourself in the past? Has this been done before - or even after - this book was out? I tried googling "time travelers killing themselves in the past" and the likes, but apparently there aren't any references to this singular kind of incident, so I assume no one went there but Mr. Pike. And it's understandable since 1) this would result in dealing with the Grandfather Paradox, only a thousand times huger, and 2) few writers are as insane gutsy as Mr. Pike ;D. Anyway, if you know of any brave one who actually did something like that, please stop below and spill! In the meantime...on with my review.
First off, this novel is written in a blend of first person + past tense + short sentences...a favourite recipe of Pike's. The same blend can be found in Witch World a.k.a. Red Queen (read my review here) 22 years later. Actually, I'd go as far as saying that Mark sounds awfully similar to Jessie from WW, especially in the respective first chapters, which stirs up an odd feeling of course. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the spare writing style, which is the main reason why I haven't rated this book higher - this, and some inconsistencies that will be addressed later. All in all, SYL had the potential to be almost-5-star material, if only it were written in a more impassioned and flowing prose.
This is a difficult book to review if one makes a point of avoiding spoilers. On one hand, you have a doomed love story and a love triangle, albeit they're both thankfully deprived of excessive emphasis. On the other, you have an equally doomed future, and a trio of characters who apparently came back from said time frame with the intention of changing it. (This had to be said...or the book would be impossible to review. Anyway, the big secret is revealed halfway through the narration, and the second - and better - part of SYL deals with the implications of this secret). [...]

Now, you might think that the biggest inconsistency in this novel is having a character from the future killing her?/him?self in the past - but oddly, it worked for me. Maybe because of the explanation Mark tentatively gives of said occurrence later...or, more precisely, because of his theories on what really happened...though I must admit they open a new can of worms in their turn. Anyway, it's a poignant event - and a daring move on Pike's part - as are its aftermath and ramifications. Or, in less grandiloquent words, I just love it - period. (I was about to start singing loudly "I love it - I don't care!" à la Icona Pop, when I regained my usual composure. Phew).
Anyway, killing your past self isn't the only issue here. What if you went back in time in a different body (sort of)? What if you were able to force your older self into a younger body in an apparently seamless manner - I mean, actually sounding/feeling younger? What if you weren't able to recognize your future self? What if you friggin' died and were frozen and revived years later? And, last but not least - what if love were indeed able to change the future? You may think I did manage to spoil the whole book in the end, addressing all these questions - but believe me, this is not even half of what's going on. Also, I didn't tell you who does what and who is who and what is real. Because some of these things may not have happened like we think they have...Anyway, not all the things that supposedly (?!) happen in SYL get a satisfying explanation. But hey, it's time travel...or is it?  I have to warn you about a couple of things. Well, maybe three. First off, this novel has an open ending, so you might consider not reading it if you need all your questions answered. Also, it depicts a bloody finding and a violent crime. Finally, there's a dialogue in the book between Mark and another character who designed a sophisticated and unusual video game. Mark says to this person: "Listen, this is a science fiction game. You can't bring in supernatural creatures. You'll annoy the purists, and they're your biggest market". There's a striking parallel between what happens with the game and what Pike does with this book...well, with many of his books. He isn't afraid to mix genres and contaminate literary stereotypes. And it works...most of the times, that is (*cough* moving Monster out of sight *cough*). Most of us love the man for this, though on the other hand, there are people who hate him precisely for his, umm, extreme blending attitude ;P. Hey, it's all fair... 
Last, but not least...like all Pike's oldies in the process of being republished, SYL got a technology update for its 2012 repackaging with Spellbound (the duet version is called Bound to You). Still, it looks like a couple of things were overlooked when substituting Blu-Rays for videotapes and the likes...1) Mark says he owns an MP3 player he had to "scrape to buy". Really? It would make sense if he were talking about a complete, sophisticated hi-fi system (which I suspect was the case in the original version), but an MP3 player? Come on! 2) Character X says to Character Y: "Why don't you give me your phone number?". Character Y replies: "Because I don't want you talking to my boyfriend". Hello, cell phones?
So, in the end, this book is classic Pike. You know what you get...the highs and the lows. But I honestly think these particular highs are worth the ride...(...which makes me think of the oil wells in the book itself. Extremely creative use...).

For more books by Christopher Pike click here.
 
Other Paperback versions...(note: I cropped the pics - anyway, just in case you wonder,
the girl on the first cover is thinking about tanks...)...and here the problems arise.
What do hammers and shovels have to do with anything in the book?!?!?
The angry boy, I get him. But is he dressed to steal instead of dressed to kill?!

2012 duet cover (Simon Pulse):
Spellbound & See You Later.
I don't get the pairing...

4 comments:

  1. OMG I cannot freaking remember this book! It's driving me nuts! I know I owned and read it but the details escape me. I'm going to have to hunt down a copy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have a great hunt then! Though I guess it's easier if you go for the duet version :).

      Delete
  2. It's stupid when they go back and do technology updates on old books. I like to be able to date a story based on the everyday things they do and say. Plus it never fails to render certain parts of the story pointless. The fact that everyone carries a cellphone now renders at least 90% of the conflicts in older novels moot, since they usually stem from lack of communication or being trapped somewhere that no one knows you are.

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    Replies
    1. I do agree! But I suppose it's the publishers who pressure their authors into doing updates. I personally think even the youngsters would appreciate a vintage novel for what it is (was) and would be able to understand the weird lack of cell phones or other devices LOL. Also, like you said, in the updating process there's always something that doesn't add up.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete

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