December 02, 2018

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.2"

Title: Thirst No.2 [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (2nd of ?? books | omnibus, reissued 2010 | contains the original TLV short novels: Phantom, Evil Thirst, Creatures of Forever)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 1996
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: Requires more suspension of disbelief than Book 1. The blend of UF and sci-fi may not work for everyone.
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: What Alisa has desired for five thousand years has finally come true: she is once again human. But now she is defenseless, vulnerable, and, for the first time in centuries, emotional. As she attempts to reconcile her actions as a vampire with her new connection to humanity, she begins to understand the weight of life-and-death decisions. Can Alisa resolve her past and build a new identity, or is she doomed to repeat her fatal mistakes? (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 second three books in the series - now repackaged as one - are be precise, it only refers to Book 4]

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...


There's a fil rouge to all the Thirst series, and the French metaphor comes in especially handy, since the common denominator is all kinds of enemies (human or not) going after Sita's blood. And there's a corollary to this - Sita having to defend humanity from the havoc her blood could wreak on them. But the 4th and 5th original installments break this pattern (that will resurface in Book 6), focusing on two special births and the need to defend one of the infants from malevolent forces. Plus, for a while, Sita is human again, and for the very first time we see her bonding with another woman (like her apparent insta-love with Ray in Book 1, this could have a huge insta-friendship vibe, if there wasn't a century-old backstory to it). Since from the original separate book blurbs I knew she would go back to being a vampire, I enjoyed my ride with human Sita. In a way, it was even more interesting for me to have that version of her to explore and compare to the one we had known so far. Some things change, some are oh so much alike. It's SO hard to review this part of the story without spoilers, but what I can say is, your enjoyment of Phantom may depend on to what extent you're capable to suspend disbelief, unless the illusion that the title openly references has, indeed, a life of sorts (which I suspect is the case, given the multiple references to "the abyss" as if it were a place that could generate something more solid than a simple hallucination). It still poses a few practical problems, but like Sita with her predicament, we probably aren't to examine the story that closely, or it will blow in our face 😉. Still, even before I formulated my crazy (ingenious?) theory about what goes on in Phantom, I was invested in the story, and a certain part before the very end broke my heart. [...]


Evil Thirst (the original 5th installment in the series) still hinges on the fate of the two special infants we met in the previous book - one of them grown at a supernatural speed, and into a terrifying creature. And no, I can see you yawning now, but rest assured this isn't like ANYTHING you've read before. Again, I don't want to spoil the thing for you, and it isn't easy to do justice to these books while being cryptic - but both the story and the characters are a breath of fresh air, plus there's a massive twist at the end that you won't see coming. In a way, it is a bit too abrupt, but we can pin part of it on Sita's shortsightedness (which, in turn, informs our own). It's funny, because for all her powers, Sita can be easily fooled into believing what she chooses to believe - or fail to see things that she should have seen. Then again, I think there's a seed of humanity deep inside of her that can be of disadvantage when she has to deal with otherworldly creatures or completely evil ones. It's interesting that she's meant to be both the monster and the saviour - it gives much more depth to the story, and it's not your usual redemption path. Sita can't stop being what she is, and at the same time, she's grown tremendously since we met her - precisely via her helping humanity as a whole, though simultaneously destroying a number of people, not all of which deserved that fate. It's probably not casual that, while in the first three books Sita was responsible for all the worst carnage, in the latter three she only harms the occasional single person/being (and always when it can't be avoided), and the mass slaughters are never on her - on the contrary, she does her best to save everyone she can. If we have to be nit-picky, we might say that it's convenient that she grew more in a few months than in 5,000 years. But there would be no story otherwise 😉. Oh, and part of this installment is set in ancient Egypt, where Sita makes a friend and battles an evil cult, not without difficulty (to use an understatement). We should understand how it ties in with the present, but of course, we get sidetracked (or I did at least...).


The two final installments of the series so far are genre-bending - which may not work for everyone, but I think it's done well (and so thinks my fellow Pike fan Carrie, who, unlike me, is not big on sci-fi). In Evil Thirst, the author introduced an alien race, and Creatures of Forever not only deals with different aliens, but adds time travel to the mix. The future of our species is again at stake, thanks (so to speak) to Sita's blood - but she also gets the chance to make a pivotal choice that will affect more than the human race's fate. Sita is sent to revisit a crucial event in her past in order to amend a disastrous mistake she can't even remember doing in the first place, since she blocked out her memory of that particular experience in order to forget the horror of it. This results in an Italian Middle-Ages adventure filled with violence, trickery, but also fun to be had by the reader. There's also an over-the-top but entertaining escape act (that will somehow be replicated in Thirst No.5: The Sacred Veil), and alas, some Moslem bad rep - but bear in mind that they were potential invaders and enemies for MA Italy, so it's historically accurate (though Sita should know better and rehabilitate them somehow). Then again, after witnessing

in Phantom, we sure can't pin Pike down as a racist - though you might say he lost the chance to actively be the opposite here. And finally...there are TWO huge twists. Only, while the one of them that directly affects Sita has been prepared for a while now (and then only apparently disregarded), the last pages not only leave us surprised and shocked - they also force us to reexamine the whole six books and fill a series of voids we didn't know were there...though during the latest two installments there's been a build-up of sorts for that ending, too (and a subtle hint at least in the last book). One might say that those twists are outrageous, but there's no denying that they're genuine, not of the manipulative kind - and that this series ends with a bang and has the power to blow your socks off. Even if there are a few details that don't add up, and a lot to be processed in the end, the Thirst/The Last Vampire series is one of a kind, and a thrill ride not to be missed.

Note: 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 fourth installment Phantom | the fifth installment Evil Thirst | the sixth installment Creatures of Forever. Plus a link to her Goodreads page if you're not on Tumblr.

For my "Thirst No.1" review (first 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. Interesting! I'm not massively into vampires, nor am I against them. I enjoyed the Twilight series a lot when it came out, but then started to pick it apart and not really like it anymore. Then, I tried The Vampire Diaries, and couldn't get into the writing style (but enjoyed the show). I guess those have biased me to picking up a lot of other vampire novels, unfortunately. This one definitely sounds like it has some interesting points though.

    1. Same for me - I don't care either way, I only pick books that I think I'll enjoy for whatever reason (and I don't read about other "creatures", normally - except ghosts. I love ghosts!). And...I never read Twilight.

      This one is, indeed, different (plus it's the mother and father of all vampire series, as far as I know). I always encourage everyone who's jaded about vamps to give it a try. They're in for some surprises 😉.

    2. Twilight and The Vampire Diaries are firmly in paranormal romance territory, and I wouldn't classify Thirst as a romance, even though it does sometimes have elements of it! In my totally biased opinion, it's much grittier, with better plotting/characters. I've read all the Twilight books more than once, but I never could get through a Vampire Diaries novel. I couldn't get past the writing either. (But I also enjoyed the show. 😂)

    3. Sita doesn't do much romance...and surprisingly, not much sex either. Though these books started out as YA, so it's understandable.

  2. I have seen this series around, thought it’s been awhile. I am happy that you are loving it even though it’s not perfect. That speaks volumes for a series especially when that has been around for so long. Continue to enjoy.

    1. I'm not even a vampire gal, go figure 😂. But there are so few different YA/NA series around, that one has to stick with those that don't repeat the same old pattern! Plus I love Christopher Pike.


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