Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Lost Mind

Someone had stolen her memory....

She didn't know what she had done.

The Lost Mind - Christopher Pike
1995, 213 pages

The Lost Mind: When it was good, it was very... well, moderately good. And when it was bad, it was fucking awful. Remember how I said there was a negative review that made me want to read this one next? Want an excerpt?

" ... poorly developed novel... Confusing metaphysics and stereotypical, one-dimensional characters do nothing to move the contrived plot. Try steering teens to Stephen King, Beverly Hastings, and the many other horror-story writers who can put together a plot and characterization with some creativity." - School Library Journal Review, 1995

Oh, burnzzz! "Poor", "confusing", "stereotypical", "one-dimensional", "contrived", can't put together a plot with creativity. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The man's gettin' KILLED. This one is cracked to the core. I hope you're ready. Let's hit it:

Characters, Alive
Jenny - woke up next to dead BFF with no memories of anything ever
Mitch - Jenny's boyfriend, gambling fiend
Amir - Crystal's boyfriend who Jenny is dying to sleep with
Gator - Jenny's lil bro

Characters, Dead
Crystal - Jenny's best friend

Jenny wakes up in the woods next to a bloody knife. A dead girl in a super bloody-riffic sweater is on the ground nearby. With no memory of who or where she is, or what happened, Jenny grabs the knife to defend herself against psycho murderers and tries to escape the woods.

On the road, she finds a new Toyota, which happens to open with the key in her pocket. Not wanting to soil the seats with her blood-stained clothes, she changes into some gym clothes she finds in the trunk. She finds ID in a purse under the driver's seat, and recognizes herself in the picture. Her name is Jennifer Hobbs. She lives in Carlsrue, Oregon, and is 110 lbs. Well, at least that's reassuring.

She starts driving, which she knows how to do, even though she doesn't know where she's going. At a gas station, she uses a local map to determine where the address on her ID is. She calls home from a payphone and tells her mother she'll be home soon. Her mom mentions that Crystal's parents are looking for her, but Jenny says she doesn't know where Crystal is.

At about 2:15 AM, Jenny stops at Denny's, which also turns out to be where she works, and has coffee and pie. By the time she arrives at the address on her license, everyone there is asleep. She makes a stab (ha) at which bedroom is hers, gets into bed, and goes to sleep.

It gets wacky: Jenny dreams that she's beyond stoned from smoking some kind of dope. A fortune teller is dealing out tarot cards until.... Jenny grabs fortune teller's hand and slices it open with a knife!!

The next day at school (which Jenny let her 8-ish year old brother drive to because she didn't know the way), a random guy comes up to Jenny and starts making out with her. Well, helloooo. This seems to be Mitch, Jenny's boyfriend. He's hard up for $300. If he doesn't have it by the end of the day, Duke's boys are gonna break his thumbs. Every time the book referred to "Duke's boys", I was like: "Duke boys!" and got all excited about Bo and Luke. Wrong Dukes. This Duke has NOTHING to do with redneck mischief. This Duke deals only in cash or pain.

All day at school, people ask Jenny where Crystal is. Apparently you can't have one without the other. Jenny goes home mid-day to check her yearbook. She has a terrible (and correct) feeling that the dead girl in the woods was Crystal.

There's a phone message from Amir, Crystal's boyfriend. He wants to "talk" about "last night". Or maybe that's actually what he wants. He thinks that Crystal ran away because she thought Jenny and Amir were having an affair. I would hardly call high school skanks cheating with their best friend's boyfriends "having an affair". That makes it sound classy, which it probably even isn't.

Not having any memory and just winging everything takes its toll on Jenny. "The charade had to end." All right, all right, Pike. Enough with the charades. Also taking its toll: picturing animals and bugs crawling over Crystal's face. This drives Jenny to place an anonymous call to the police to report Crystal's body in the woods.

Later, the police show up at Jenny's to inform her of Crystal's death, and to question her because she had been with Crystal last night. Jenny's answers don't make any sense because she doesn't remember anything, but doesn't want to tell anyone that and look automatically guilty of murder. The cops want to see her shoes. Hey, it worked in Remember Me. Jenny stalls by acting outraged that anyone could believe she would kill her best friend, and tells the cops to leave.

Gator, the little brother, can tell that Jenny is acting funny. He tells Jenny about a toy/TV show/something that kids enjoy where Clyde the Robot loses his memory and sticks his head in a nuclear reactor to get it back. Very helpful.

In her room, Jenny tries to find out about who she was by looking at her belongings. Lots of books: romance, fantasy, classics. Fave band: U2. And her diary, which tells her she was a totally superficial bee-yotch. She finds out that Mitch gambles on his own football games and is in pretty deep with some bookies, which is convenient because Mitch shows up right then looking for that $300 he needs. Jenny doesn't have it all, so she goes to raid Gator's piggy bank. By the time she gets back to her room, Mitch is naked and boner-fied on her bed.

Jenny flips because Mitch is being so insensitive about Crystal's death. She says that it would be good if Duke's boys broke Mitch's neck, not his thumbs; there'd be one less phony in Carlsrue. Mitch replies with, "You'll regret what you just said, Jen. You'll regret it before the sun goes down." OMG - Mitch is making cowboy threats! Then he saunters away, probably to do lasso tricks or something.

A short time later, Amir is at the door. The police had just been by his place and grilled him hardcore. He told the police that he'd been sleeping with Jenny, now Jenny is sure the police will think she killed Crystal to get her man.

That night, Jenny dreams she's at the pyramids, stoned on hash, and hiking with a witch, who is also her dreamself's mother. And in this dream Jenny's a dude. The mother is keeping some information from Jenny's dude form, so Jenny knifes her.

The next day, Jenny visits Crystal's parents. She asks to go into Crystal's room to reminisce alone. She reads a few entries in Crystal's diary. Crystal had seen Mitch out with other girls and was torn about whether to tell Jenny. And... Crystal had been having the same Egyptian hashish crazy dreams as Jenny! Say whatttt? Crystal's dad comes in, so Jenny has to drop the diary and leave.

When Jenny gets home, the cops are back. They tell her to stay at home. DNA from the scene and tire tracks have pretty much given them enough evidence to come arrest her in the morning. An officer will be parked outside all night to see to it that she doesn't leave.

Jenny asks Gator to break into Crystal's room and steal her diary. When she reads the rest of the entries, she finds out that Amir had, like, multiple personality disorder or something. He was nice to Crystal, then he would smoke some hash and rape her. Then he would read gun magazines and ignore her until she left. No matter what he did, Crystal still missed him and loved him, but didn't understand why.

That night, Jenny has another dream... and this one explains everything. I'm so freaking tired of all these dreams. She's the Egyptian dude again. There's a girl she's interested in. Her witch mother tells her/him that the girl is 1/3 of her soul, and someone else has the other third. Then Jenny stabs the mother in the eyeball with the knife. I hate this book now.

She wakes up somehow knowing exactly what happened to Crystal and with a masterful plan. First, she mixes up some sleeping pills and coffee to give to the cop outside. Once he's out, she writes a suicide note and leaves it in her room. Then she drives to the woods and buries the knife that she'd taken from the murder scene. And then she breaks into Amir's apartment, pistol whips him, and tells him they're going for a walk.

In the woods, Jenny ties Amir's arms around a tree. She drinks booze and takes a handful of sleeping pills. Jenny wants to know how Amir entered her. How he raped her mind. Apparently, Amir, Jenny, and Crystal are three parts of the same soul. Amir found Crystal, but she didn't complete him, so he started to loathe her.

The day of Crystal's murder, Amir had been at home with his pipe when Crystal and Jenny showed up unannounced. This caused a "premature rupture of the soul". Amir was in Jenny's body, Jenny was in Crystal's body, and Crystal's soul was dancing on the ceiling.

Amir had taken advantage of the situation to murder Crystal while he was in Jenny, and evil bastard let Crystal's soul back into her body so that she could feel herself being stabbed and killed.

Back in the woods, Jenny's heard enough. She's woozy from the sleeping pills she took and needs to get this shit over with. She pulls out a syringe and says she's gonna inject Amir with air, Amanda-from-Remember-Me style. She stabbed him once with the needle, and as she tried to stab him a second time, there's a rush of light and power, and she goes unconscious.

When Jenny wakes up, she's tied to the tree and Jenny is standing over her with a gun. Yes, Amir had switched their souls. What he doesn't know is that Jenny's taken a lethal dose of pills and the body he's in is going to die soon. And that Jenny hadn't really injected any air into his body. Aaaaaand that Jenny buried the knife at the base of the tree, so she can easily cut herself free and live the rest of her life as an Egyptian-American man.

Amir-in-Jenny collapses and dies. Jenny-in-Amir cuts the ropes loose from the tree and drives Jenny's body home, where she plants it next to the suicide note. Which totally says that she didn't kill Crystal, but who the hell would believe that now?

At Jenny and Crystal's joint funeral (ok, maybe the townspeople did believe Jenny's note), Amir talks to Gator and tells him some crap about Clyde the Robot, which is what Gator babbled about the whole book, and basically tells him that he's Jenny, inside. And that's that.

I would have loved this if it had a logical conclusion. Instead it had a shizload of crazy ass hash and bizarre knife dreams fuelling the entire plot. Seriously, everything was dreams. There were so many dreams. I'm a dreamskimmer, so this book was especially frustrating.

One last thing: please VOTE in the poll for next week's book recap. Your opinion counts! Let your voice be heard! Have your say! (I'm in, like, election overdrive right now: American, Canadian, freakin' municipal. So forgive me for cheesy slogan-ing you into placing a vote... but you don't have to register or drive anywhere, so it's not a pain in the ass like real voting. Maybe you should just click on something. No pressure, though. Oy, I'll leave you alone now.) See you next week!


MaybeSomeday said...

So she has to live the rest of her life as a man? If that was my only option, I don't know what I'd choose.

Ellie B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zanne said...

I vaguely remember reading this book back when it first came out, but I don't think I liked it. However, now I definitely want to read it again because I went to Egypt last year.

Fear Street said...

I think I would need some hash myself in order to make it through this one...

Unknown said...

If my fried memory serves me well, TLM was about the time I started to suspect that maybe Pike had, I dunno, churned out one book too many. By the time he hit The Hollow Skull [I think?] I was ready to kill someone.

Oddly, TLM got better the more I re-read it. There was a storm or something and it was the only non Trek book I could find, so maybe I'm just crazy? Anyway, it was... weird. And I usually love dream sequences. But he abused them.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this book sounds insane. I did like the part with the naked guy on the bed all aroused. But then that's how I like my teen horror novels.

Please say you'll do Monster. It's the only Christopher Pike book I recall reading and I found it so, so awesome.

Gus said...

I love this book. It is a great book for people around my age to read (14). A very suspenseful book. If you go on Amazon you can get it for as little as one cent. I would HIGHLY recommend this book. It is a great easy read.

Lord Mark said...
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