Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Immortal

The Goddess wanted a human body....

The ancient artifact was cursed.

The Immortal - Christopher Pike
1993, 213 pages

The Immortal: It's a book, and, like, stuff happens. I stopped taking notes halfway through because I was too busy watching election results and being depressed. So, this recap could be kinda iffy. I apologize in advance.

Sryope - awesome storyteller, daughter of a muse
Phthia - father unknown

Josie - almost died a year ago from some kind of cardiac condition
Helen - almost died a year ago from a suicide attempt
Tom - Oxford student who chills in Greece during his vacations
Pascal - French guy, Tom's buddy
Josie's Dad - washed-up Hollywood screenwriter
Silk - Josie's dad's girlfriend, booze-aholic

Back in the time of Greek gods there were two friends, Sryope and Phthia. Sryope liked this guy, and so did Phthia. Phthia made the guy swear a pledge to be faithful only to her. I don't remember the details, but basically she started screwing everyone and he was sad and lonely. So Sryope challenged Phthia to a storytelling competition. If Phthia lost, she would release the guy from his oath, so he and Sryope could hook up.

Sryope gathered a crowd and told a crazy story about a Fury disguising itself as a dude and knocking up a goddess. This hits a sore spot with Phthia, since that's the story of her own parentage, and being half-Fury would REALLY be frowned upon. Phthia goes ballistic and runs off, losing by default. Sryope and dude are free to be together... or are they??

In the present, Josie is on a flight from L.A. to Athens, along with her dad, dad's lady friend "Silk", and Josie's BFF Helen. They're flying Swiss Air. I'm going to segue outta Pikeland for 2 seconds and tell ya that Swiss Air flight 111 actually CRASHED into the ocean near where I live. It was 10 years ago last month, which is crazy to believe, because it happened the night before my very first day of high school. I'm getting oooold.

Aaaannnd back to the story! Let's get the parallels out of the way. Helen used to have a boyfriend, Ralph. They kind of broke up, then Josie and Ralph dated. Scandalicious! Helen was weird about it for a while, but it's all good now that's Ralph's moved away. There's more to come on the boy front, btw. Also, Josie's a master storyteller. The only reason her dad's career isn't totally in the can is because she helps him with ideas. For example, right now he's working on this thing about the future, and humans, and aliens, and earth is destroyed and the spaceship captain's wife is leaving him, now he's gonna have a tender moment with an alien woman (named Vani, same as in The Tachyon Web), and blah blah I am so tired of this unnecessary crap every single book and I won't be speaking of it again.

So, they arrive in Athens and take another flight to the island of Mykonos. Helen met a guy, Tom, when she vacationed in Greece last year and can't wait to see him again. Tom works in a bar on the beach, which is convenient because Josie almost drowns and he saves her. To Helen's anger and chagrin, Tom and Josie bond. Josie wants Tom's bod and doesn't even care who gets hurt. Whoa. Drama.

The girls make a date with Tom and his friend Pascal. The four of them hang out until late. Pascal leaves first. Helen wants Josie to leave too, but Josie pretty much says that she's a California girl and she wants to bang Tom, so suck it, Helen because Josie isn't going anywhere.

Tom pays more attention to Josie than Helen, so Helen figures that since she can't out-interesting Josie, she's going to out-drink her. Helen orders many scotch and sodas, then PUKES all over the floor/Tom's sandals. Josie estimates the vomit volume at a half-gallon. That's a pretty precise Imperial measurement. I can't even look at puke long enough to assess the amount, so good on Josie, I guess.

They carry Helen out of the bar, and Josie tries to kiss Tom. He responds by running away.

Josie and Helen make it back to the hotel and go to bed. Josie dreams about wearing a toga and being served as a goddess would be. She wakes up with no hangover and believes that her dream kept her from feeling the effects of her boozin'.

The plan for the day is to visit the nearby island of Delos. It's uninhabited and covered in ruins. Josie touches the pillars and feels an electric jolt. There's something special about the place. Helen had noticed it too, when she came here after her suicide attempt. "Things change when you almost die."

Back at the hotel, Helen naps, so Josie takes the opportunity to go see Tom. She wants to go out with him... alone. Then she realizes she's being "horribly bitchy" to Helen about the whole situation. Hello! Helen has a history with this guy, and yer bein' a ho, Jo.

When Helen wakes up, she says she'd like to call Tom and Pascal to go out again. Really? You friggin' chucked all over Tom's sandaled feet. I would avoid someone forever if I did that. For-ever... For-ever...

Josie tries to convince Helen that Pascal is interested in her, to make her back up offa Tom. This conversation has the potential to go really sour, but Helen changes the topic by insulting Josie's dad. Hey, whatever works to keep the friendship alive. And from what I've heard, he actually is "such a hack".

Josie naps before they go out. You know, there's a lot of sleeping in this book. Naps, full night sleeps, the works. The first couple sleep sequences were DREAMLESS. Then it took a turn for the severely lamer and now it's ALL DREAMS. How dare Pike fake me out with no dreams, then - suddenly - dreams!

This dream is about the origin of Apollo, and Josie is a goddess, and she's praying to other gods to get help for her human devotees. Whatevs.

So, the four of them go out again. Josie tells Helen that she spoke to Tom earlier and made plans to pretty much ditch Pascal and Helen together and go off alone. Helen screams that Ralph (remember, the old boyfriend they shared?) died of natural causes last year after he moved. She didn't tell Josie because she didn't deserve to know. These girls are the worst best friends ever!

Helen storms off, so Josie and Tom take a romantic row boat ride. Tom's rowing, and they're talking, and it's so nice... then shit gets real. The wind picks up and their oar floats away and Tom tries to swim after it and is carried out of sight. Josie, alone in the boat, tries to bail out water and, like, not die. She washes up on Delos, which is totally deserted at night. She climbs the embankment and sees the ruins in the moonlight. Except... they're not ruins. It's all brand new and there's people. What. Josie walks toward the archeologist's shed for shelter, but the people there think she's a goddess and want to serve her.

When Josie awakens, she finds the island in the same condition that it's always been: old and crumbly. Next to her, there's a small statue of a goddess. Josie feels connected to the statue and comes up with a plan to sneak it off the island and keep it.

She waits for the tour boats to come over, then goes back to Mykonos on one of the return trips. Her dad just happens to be on the beach talking to a police officer. There are boats everywhere searching for her. Tom is ok, and he's out looking for her with Helen and Pascal.

Turns out that while Tom frantically searched the seas for Josie's body, Pascal and Helen flirted and rubbed each other with lotion. Um, inappropriate much? BFF is presumed dead, and this is how Helen acts? While she's supposed to be looking for the body!?!? The good thing is Josie is alive and now she can have Tom all to herself!!

Josie and Tom celebrate their survival by going to a secluded nude beach. Josie gets naked right away, but Tom won't and actually runs away from her. God, what is up with this guy? Josie says something rottenly bitchy, like that she knows about him and Pascal being lovers. But apparently that's not it. Tom just doesn't want to do anything without condoms.

Josie shows Tom the statue she'd stolen from Delos, but she won't let him touch it. She thinks that if he touched it, he would die.

Back at the hotel, they have a "Josie Lives" celebratory BBQ. Silk and Helen make burgers and chicken and lamb and other foodstuffs. Afterwards, it's either night or naptime because Josie's all up in dreamland's grill... AGAIN. She dreams of the goddesses. Sryope is on trial for the murder of Phthia. B-b-but how? Phthia is a goddess, how could she ever be killed? She is immortal.

When Josie wakes up, she is in terrible pain. She goes for a walk, and calls Tom when she gets home. He's also ill. Josie rushes to his place to find him in awful shape. Pascal takes them both to the medical centre. While Tom is being examined, Josie collapses and resumes her dream:

Sryope is questioned about her friendship with Phthia, her relationship with the dude they both wanted, and her interference in the lives of humans. There are about 2000 modern day humans that she helps and inspires with their creative lives. The lawyer, or who/whatever is questioning her, brings out hidden camera footage of Sryope innocently helping Josie's dad with his screenwriting, helping Josie with school assignments, etc.

But then this trial shit gets real: the lawyer presents footage of Josie and Helen having a sleepover. Sryope comes in from the ceiling, reaches into Josie's chest and grabs her heart, drags her to the can, makes her empty a bunch of pill capsules into a cup of water, drags her back to Helen's side, and forces Josie to force Helen to drink it. This hardcore heart-grabbing is what caused Josie's medical troubles last summer.

And it gets worse. There are images of Helen in a hospital bed, gravely ill. While holding Phthia by a noose of thorns, Sryope descends from the ceiling, spits on Helen, which causes her monitors to all go crazy, then shoves Phthia into Helen's body. Phthia is now mortal!

Sryope knows she is innocent, and that the only type of being who could do this shapeshifting thing is a Fury, like Phthia's father. Who also carries a noose of thorns. Sryope can't prove her innocence, so she must be sentenced.

She is to be given the same fate she forced upon Phthia: to become mortal. She is pulled through space and time, and put into Josie's body, as she lies in the hospital.

Josie wakes up in the hospital. Helen is by her side. Josie asks Helen what she did, poison them or what? Helen says she ground up glass and added it to Josie's BBQ burgers. Josie and Tom's insides have been finely shredded and there's no way to repair it.

Phthia, as Helen, is still pissed that Sryope told that story about the goddess with a Fury for a father. She enlisted her Fury father to help her set up Sryope for revenge, now she needs to pay her father back by giving him what he wants: human flesh. She plans to sacrifice Pascal on Delos... tonight! Just like she sacrificed Ralph a year ago when she first became mortal!

Josie writes a letter to her dad, telling him how to end his screenplay and telling him that she's gonna die. She tells Tom what's going on, and even though he thinks it's hella farfetched, he leaves the hospital with her. They steal a boat and drive to Delos. Tom is really sick by the time they get there, but Josie is able to climb to where Helen and Pascal are.

Helen has a gun and has mesmerized Pascal into thinking the gun is her. Like, touch the gun, lick the gun, kiss the gun. I don't get this book sometimes. Josie distracts Helen with the flash from her camera, then shoots her 6 times in the chest. Gun shooting, not photography shooting. That wouldn't be effective in this situation at all.

Since Josie took the goddess statue from Delos, it's turned from stone into crystal. She cracks it open and it's full of fluid. Her blood. She gives it to Tom to drink, saving his life. Then Josie's body dies, with Sryope inside.

There's a bunch more stuff throughout the book about the gods, but it's way too detailed for me to mess with in this recap. I wasn't thrilled with this one. For an entirely different and much much more entertaining piece of fiction about the Greek gods and goddesses, check out Gods Behaving Badly by UK author Marie Phillips. That's all for now!!


M said...

Damn. I was obsessed with this book when I was in middle school. Then I went to Mykonos when I was 18. While at the nude beach/night club/trampoline pit or whatever the hell that was, I thought back to this book and the circle was complete.

Wonderful recap!

Kate Enge said...

I enjoyed this one when I was younger. Maybe because it didn't have such a screwed up ending as some of the other Pike books. (I'm looking at you Die Softly.)

This book made me uber paranoid about eating burgers. I would pull them all apart to make sure there wasn't any glass in them. Thanks for that Pike!

Something I realized now that I didn't realize when I read this in 7th grade--why on earth would you go to a nude beach and not bring a condom? Wouldn't you like think sex would be an option? Tom dropped the ball on that one.

Sigh, thanks for the reminder of the Swiss Air crash. That happened when I was just starting college so now I feel REALLY old.


Fear Street said...

This one doesn't sound that bad...I like the whole Greek thing.

MaybeSomeday said...

Sometimes you have to wonder what Pike was/is smoking ...

zanne said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It sounds interesting but a bit confusing. I never read this one when I was younger.

I used to be really into dreams. In college I even took a class about movies & dreams. I loved it. I wonder if my interest in dreams is because I used to read Pike books?!

BananaBomb said...

This was my favorite Pike back in the day. I was obsessed with Greece and Greek mythology going into my teen years so it was right up my alley. Alas, I never actually got to Greece though. Now I just go vicariously through my brother-in-law and his wife; they go like 3 times a year. (And bring back Greek wine-yum!)

Anonymous said...

The whole grinding up of glass thing totally stayed with me for years after reading this book. I remember being horrified when I read it!!

Unknown said...

The ground-up glass in the burgers was the only thing I could remember about this book, and now I see why. Argh, Pike, since when have there been male Furies? Oh, whatever. Great recap like usual!

The Babysitter said...

Haha, all I can say is thankyou for this's so nice to see the pure weirdness that is Christopher Pike plots down in writing...for some reason the whole statue thing from this book really stayed with me. Uh oh, perhaps I'm a reincarnated ancient Greek goddess...2 thumbs up for shonky crystal-related spiritualism...

Ps another great book about misbehaving deities is American Gods by Neil Gaiman....

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is just getting weird. A House of Yes reference, and now a Gods Behaving Badly reference? I may love you.

Unknown said...

Ah! As soon as you mentioned the glass in the burger, I remembered I read this, and exactly where in the library I picked it up. Creepy!

Deathycat said...

This wasn't one of my favorite Pike books, but yeah, that ground up glass in a burger really stayed with me. I didn't eat burgers for the longest time. ^_^

Emily said...

Great recap, as usual, but you forgot something important from the ending -- when Josie/Sryope "dies", Sryope is shown on Mount Olympus, talking to Apollo -- and finding out he's her dad. The human ending upset me when I first read this, but I liked that. I, also, have never forgotten the thing with the ground glass in the burger. Sooo fiendish! No wonder Josie and Helen are such horrible BFFs to each other -- they totally f'ed with each other in the ancient world/Mount Olympus/wherever.

I always had this feeling as a teen that Pike took a vacation to Greece and was inspired to write this story, because it reads like someone who went and fell in love with it. I can say how easy that is from experience, although I didn't make it to Mykonos or many of the islands. Next time!

jaimee said...

LOVE your recap, it is so hard to find Christopher pike books for a total recap. Do you recommend any of his books that are like remember me, it was my fav when i was in 7th grad. This book was my second favored. thanks, for the great recap keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Clearly I am several years late to the party, but seriously, when Sryope noticed the thorn noose and knew she was being framed, why didn't she point this out to any of the other gods in her defense, as well as point out the shape-shifting nature of Furies? I guess the Greek gods' court doesn't have reasonable doubt?

Also, at the end, didn't Apollo say some shit like he'd known what had happened (e.g., that Sryope was being framed), but he couldn't intervene because of [insert some contrived bullshit reason], or am I making that up?