September 21, 2018

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.1"

Title: Thirst No.1 [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (1st of ?? books | omnibus, reissued 2009 | contains the original TLV short novels: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, Red Dice)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 1994-1995
Age: 14+ (please note: for years it's been considered YA lit, but the human age of the protagonist would place it in the NA category nowadays, and the series gets more mature - and darker - by the book)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action and entertaining (if often bloody) moments. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history, and more than anything, Eastern spirituality.
Cons: Sort-of instalove (though redeemed by its peculiar premise). Insta-friendship too (though with a lovely, nerdy character). Multi-talented heroine who may annoy some readers.
WARNING! Abundance of blood, gore and violence.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive. Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life... (Goodreads)
[Please note: "Alisa" is the main character's alias in the first installment, but her real name - the one she'll go by for the rest of the series, when she's not undercover for some reason - is Sita. Also, the blurb just scratches the surface of what the first three books in the series - now repackaged as one - are be precise, it only refers to Book 1]

Review: This series is not perfect. And I won't shun its faults in this review. But for some reason, I can't bear myself to rate it less than 5 stars. It's not author bias - there are a bunch of Pike books I rated 3 stars and even less. But if TLV/Thirst stills works its magic on me almost 20 years after I first read Book 1, and if I'm still peeling its layers after all this time, that should count for something...


Sita is not your usual vampire in many ways - which gives her a different agenda than your average fanged creature. She can tolerate the sun, though it slows her a little; she can go months without feeding, though she needs blood in a bad way if she's injured; she doesn't need to kill her victims, since she can make them forget their encounters with her - though kill she does when someone pisses her out big time; and she's got lots of other quirks, big and small. Most of all, though, she hasn't created one of her kind for centuries, because of a vow she made to Krishna when she was a very young vampire. Now, you can wonder how Krishna factors into the vampire equation - but it would be a long and spoilery answer if I told you. Just rest assured that he does, and the inclusion of elements of Easter spirituality into a vampire story is not as far-fetched as you may think. Disclaimer: I'm not Indian. I'm in no way an expert when it comes to Hinduism. It's not my place to say if this is a case of cultural appropriation - though I know for sure that Pike has always been earnestly fascinated by Eastern spirituality and has studied it closely for years (as he explained in many of his Facebook posts). What I can say is, the inclusion of these aspects and the way they shape Sita's story is one of the most interesting and fascinating facets of this series. [...]


[OK, the title above is a bit exaggerated - Sita isn't mad, or devoid of a conscience, though she's indeed bad and dangerous enough. But if the quote applied to Lord Byron, it sure can be used for a 5,000 y.o. vampire 😉. Anyhow, I love it, so *shrugs*].
Despite her connection with Krishna, don't make the mistake of thinking that Sita is a "reformed" vampire - though she, more often than not, fights the good fight. She's not human, after all. She's a relentless killer when it suits her - and if suits her often. Even while she battles a horde of newborn vampires and their psycho maker, or tries to prevent a ruthless general from stealing vampire blood for his own agenda, the body count among the innocents (that is, the police forces mainly) is impossibly high. And she doesn't waste tears or remorse on them - though she occasionally spares someone in one-on-one confrontations. Then again, she's a fascinating, deep character we can't help rooting for - and not only when she tries to save humanity from a bigger, badder enemy. She gets out of a few apparently hopeless predicaments using her cunning as much as her powers, which is interesting (and even funny) to read about. Also, Pike intersperses Sita's present story with snippets from her long past (the chilling tale of how she was vamped, how she met Krishna, her past lovers and an adventure that ties in with the problem she faces in Book 3) and prophetic, if cryptic, dreams (where Krishna is always present) which never fail to turn even a reluctant history reader like me into a zealot. Unless I close the book, that is 😂.


For such a compelling character with equally compelling stories, there are faults in both that I have to underline...
  • Sita talks without contractions (and I noticed that her style bleeds into the other characters' speech sometimes, which I think is accidental). Some can find her monologue a bit stilted/old fashioned because of that, but to me, it perfectly conveys her age and inhumanity.
  • Sita is not only beautiful, magnetic and deadly, but also well-versed in any art under the sun (not only the war/self defense ones). Of course, she's had 5,000 years of practice, so we shouldn't complain about that, also because it gets the story going all right. Then again, some reviewers apparently hate that with a passion. Maybe they're the same ones who, on the other hand, complain about "whiny" or "angsty" heroines characters - I wouldn't put it past them 😉. Then again, if she sounds too much like a special snowflake to you (which she probably has a right to be, given her peculiar situation - but well), this might not be the series for you.
  • Sita goes as far as to befriend Ray, a young man whose father she killed, in order to find out who's hunting her down. I was not surprised when she fell for him (and paid his girlfriend no heed), but I was plenty when he reciprocated her feelings (so to speak) in a very short span of time, and went as far as to forgive her for killing his father. Though there's an explanation that makes the situation less improbable, it's still a bit of a stretch. Sita also befriends (with no sexual undertones) Seymour, a high-school nerd who seems to have a psychic link with her, and even in this case, you have to suspend your disbelief when she - the 5,000 y.o. powerful vampire - actually goes to him for advice. Then again, I suppose Seymour provides her with the human perspective she lacks, and acts as her conscience somehow*. Speaking of which - there are other male characters in these first three books, including Sita's maker Yaksha, and she develops (or rekindles, so to speak) different relationships with all of them, but make no mistake - men are pretty much expendables in this series. This is Sita's story, and as much as she can love or hate them (or both things at a time), she's the boss 😉.
  • There's a huge deus-ex-machina trick at the end of Book 3 - not because the story didn't build up to it, but in the sense that it doesn't get a logical explanation (though I have my crazy theory about it) - and it will never be used again in the rest of the series, at least not in the same way (once more: we don't know how it worked, and why it could only work that one time. As I said, I have a theory, but it's probably just wishful thinking).
So, here's your introduction to the mother and father of all the YA/NA vampire novels you may have read in the latest 20 years or so. A series that stays on its own for so many reasons, with a kickass, self-sufficient heroine ahead of her time, plus a FEMALE vampire calling the shots - how refreshing is that? If you think you can look past its shortcomings (and well, I gladly did), I recommend you at least try this first volume. There are four more so far, with plenty of action and spirituality, blood and tears, friends and enemies, love and hate to keep you entertained. I think it's worth a shot 😉.

* About Seymour - I'm talking about him the way he features in these first books, pretending I'm not familiar with the twists that will come later in the series. It's the only way I can review these books for now - more of this when the right time comes...

Note No.1: during the series, Sita mentions having had numerous lovers in her long life, both male and female. But alas, for some reason we only get to see her involved with men - unless the author changes course in the future installments he's planning, that is - so I suppose that's not enough for Thirst to be included in a queer rep book list.

Note No.2: I didn't shelf this series as Afterlife because Sita didn't actually "die-die" before she came back as a vampire. There are different takes on the vampire mythology, though technically they should all be undead...

P.S.: I'm doing a buddy reread of this series with my friend and Pike fan Carrie. She usually can articulate her thoughts far better than me, so here's her review for the first installment The Last Vampire | the second installment Black Blood | the third installment Red Dice. Plus a link to her Goodreads page if you're not on Tumblr.

For my "Thirst No.2" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.3" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.4" review (fourth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.5" review (fifth installment in the series) click here.
For more books by Christopher Pike click here.


  1. This is a lovely, well-written review that captures all the best things about the book without ignoring its flaws. Given my own difficulties writing about it, I know how hard this must have been! You more than did it justice. <3

    1. Thank you hon! 😊 But it's SO looooong LOL. I probably should have reviewed the books separately.

  2. Ah, I really need to check out a Pike book one of these days. Funnily enough, the Thirst books used to be on my to-read list... back when I wasn't reading in English. As they've never been pubbed in Hungarian, I slowly but surely lost interest. However, your love for the author has made me SO CURIOUS. Fantastic review as always. :)

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. This one has the type of heroine we were talking about in regard to your female character discussion! I hope you get to read it one day, though I would completely understand if you were reluctant to embark on a long (and supposedly ongoing) series.

      And thank you!

  3. I cannot remember the last time I read a vampire book. These books have been coming our for 20 years? Wow! Glad it still holds up for you after all this time.

    1. LOL, I don't usually read vampire books, unless they have something different in them. I suppose most readers were all about vampires when Twilight came out, and then got burned out and stopped reading about them altogether. As I said though, this series is vastly different from your usual vampire mold, so it's a pity that more people doesn't even know it exists or wouldn't read it out of prejudice.

  4. I still need to read this one! You've mentioned them on your blog before. I actually held the first book in my hands at a bookstore once, but ended up choosing something else. That was years ago...

    Ack! Her relationship with Ray would bother me. One, he has a girlfriend. Two, he reciprocates her feelings despite having a girlfriend. Please tell me he ends things with the girl quickly, because this is teetering on the edge of a love triangle, haha.

    I'm so glad these are still enjoyable after all these years! Some books just stick with us.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. Quote: "Please tell me he ends things with the girl quickly, because this is teetering on the edge of a love triangle, haha."
      LOL! The answer would be a giant spoiler, but...let's say, there's not even time for it to become a love triangle! All the things that happen in the first volume (I mean in the original The Last Vampire) happen very quickly.

  5. I'm surprised I never read this series. It was out and quite popular during my vampire reading phase.

    After October I should be able to get back to *fun* reading and maybe I'll give it a go.

    1. Fair warning: though Sita has lovers (past ans present) through the series, this is not what I would call "paranormal romance".

      Fun reading? You aren't having fun now? 😉

  6. I know the feeling, when you know a series or book isn't perfect, but you love it anyway. It just means the good totally outweighs the bad :-) This does sound pretty cool! Although yeah, one character not using contractions can make sense, but it's frustrating when things like that bleed into other characters!

    1. It's barely noticeable though. I probably only noticed because I've read this series countless times! Also, it only appears here and there.

      I think Thirst would work for you - it's a different approach to a creature you like...


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