The truth was neither black nor white... but a horrible shade of gray.
It was his last chance to find the answer.
The Graduation - Christopher Pike
1989, 238 pages
How about some recap to make up for the loooong posting delay?
Remember The Party? Alice "killed" "herself", but Michael thinks someone else was behind it. Blah, blah, shitloads of other vapid dicks and bitches do stuff that matters not. Small detail I didn't mention that may be important: Alice's sister Polly (you remember, the fat one!) had undergone shock therapy as a kid after their parents died. You know, for her depression.
After that, The Dance. Poor little Hispanic Maria falls to her paralysis. But the float that collapsed under her may have been sabotaged for someone else, because there is no way in hell that anyone predicted that Maria was going to win Homecoming Queen.
Now it's time for The Graduation. Mike is either lazier than me or the worst procrastinator ever because he's done NOTHING in the last seven months to find Alice's killer. Even though he's still obsessed over it. With enough credits to graduate, both Mike and Clair left school after first semester. So Mike's been doing nothing when there's a killer on the loose?? Come on, Mike, avenge your friend. And make it bloody. Cuzzzz that's what I like.
Russ Desmond was sent to juvie after the dance for allegedly cutting down a tree which fell on, and destroyed, the school snack shack. Sara is still school president, and is the only reason Jessica is graduating. Jess was so depressed from the double whammy of Alice's death, and then Maria, a friend she knew for, like, 6 weeks, saying that she hated Jessica and never wanted to see her again, that Jess stopped attending school after Christmas break and only by Sara bringing her assignments to her did she manage to graduate.
Nick is a huge basketball hero and popular beyond his craziest dreams. Oh - and Polly! Polly is THIN. Hallelujah! The girl is thin. Woooooo!! And, like, depressed and insane, but that doesn't matter because thin people are perfect, don't forget.
So, it's graduation day. Mike returns to school to give the valedictorian speech, and to harass Polly about Clark's whereabouts. Are you serious, Mike? Alice died in, like, October. It's mofo June! Polly doesn't have any info, other than the last time she saw Clark was after the dance and Aunty was dead in the house.
Mike ditches Polly when he spots Jessica (wearing a green skirt and yellow blouse!) and starts stalking her around the courtyard like a "frightened lowlife". He hasn't seen her in months, but he still likes what he sees. Ow ow!!
Oh yeah, Kats is at school too. He's a graduate scholar, except he's not even a student, and he's like 29 years old. I wonder if his parents got him something nice for grad? Bill Skater got a Corvette. Jess and Sara got matching trips to Hawaii. I think I got $100 for graduating. Ohhhhhhhh. My life sucks.
Before the ceremony, Sara picks Russ up from the bus station. He has a weekend pass from juvie to go to graduation. Nick drives to the rehab facility where Maria has been living. After her accident, her family's illegal alien status was discovered and her parents were deported back to El Salvador. Once she is stable, she will be sent back too.
The grad ceremony is underway. Mike gives his smartest-guy-in-school speech and, like, forces everyone in attendance to have a moment of silence for Alice... WHAT?? She went to this school for 3 weeks and she was in grade 9. And, as far as anyone knows, she wanted to die. Why would it ever be appropriate to hold a moment of silence for friggin' Alice? Mike needs to check himself hardcore.
Jessica ends the ceremony by singing "Let It Be", while Kats becomes psychotic with anger for some reason. He wants to turn the grad cruise into a ghost ship. That'll show them. Yeah. That'll show them.
After the ceremony, Mike heads straight to Alice's art teacher/sorta boyfriend/also Polly's former sorta boyfriend Clark's place. He'd been investigating Clark for some time, even paying people from Clark's high school for info. Mike tracks down Clark's address and decides that packing heat (for squares, that's "carrying a gun") is the best idea. Once inside, Mike accidentally reveals the piece ("gun") and Clark stomps the crap outta him.
Shortly before the grad cruise ship is set to leave, Jessica and Sara take a trip to the pharmacy for contraceptives. Sara snagged them some private rooms so they can have some alone time (i.e. virginity losing time) with their guys. Um, I know Jess has been depressed, but what the hell? She wanted to bang Bill Skater, like, two books ago. What gives?? (If you don't remember, I'll tell you what gives... later.)
Before the cruise, Polly visits Alice's grave. Clark unceremoniously shows up at the cemetery with a backpack full of bomb-making supplies and asks Polly to sneak him onto the boat. Polly warns him that Mike will stop him. Clark doesn't think so.
Hey, remember how Sara lost all the student's council money that was supposed to pay for the Homecoming dance? And then she got Bubba to spot her the cash, in exchange for sex. Remember that? Well, apparently the bastard's been holding it over her for the entire school year, and now he tells her that he's gambled all the money she needs to pay for the grad cruise. On a mofo basketball game. So she could end up with no money, and still have to sleep with friggin' gross-out Bubba. Ack!!
Sara tries to spend time with Russ, who she considers to be her boyfriend except he doesn't, like, know it yet. He's totally cool with just ignoring her though. God, the guys in this book! Each and every one = tools.
Once the ship has sailed, lots of people start talking and doing stuff. Maria and Jessica talk, and it's not awesome, but it's not a fiasco either. Maria is more distant than flat-out hateful. Mike starts ditching people left, right, and centre. I think those boots to the head from Clark have affected his attention span. He talks to Nick for, like, 3 lines. He even walks away from Jessica. I think she was in the middle of a sentence. Then he goes to bug Bubba about the night of the party.
Bubba confesses that he and Clair were in one of the bedrooms upstairs and that he got her pregnant that night. Since Clair's abortion, their relationship has gotten stronger. Now Bubba and Clair are planning to get married in Vegas on the weekend. Um, I always thought Clair was competent. My mistake. Also via Bubba: Jess won Homecoming Queen, but Bubba switched it so Clair wouldn't be upset. Ooooh!
In one of the private rooms, Polly and Clark are hanging out. Polly is soaking in the tub wondering why Clark doesn't want to come in and look at her. She depressed because no one likes her even though she lost all that weight. That would be depressing.
Polly cuts her wrist with a razor blade, and that's when Clark decides to peek in. Great timing, guy. He goes nuts and threatens to cuts out her eyeballs and tongue if she ever cuts herself again. He's so pissed that he throws a plugged-in hairdryer into the tub... while Polly's still in there!!! Bzzzz-zzz-zzz-zzz!
All the jocks, plus Bubba and Sara, have been glued to the TV showing the basketball game. Lakers vs. Celtics, a grand 80s rivalry. Bubba had told Sara that he bet on the hometown Lakers. And the Lakers lost. Oh no! Sara drags Bubba outside. She's desperate. She needs money. Gotta have money, yo.
Oh, but Bubba actually bet on the Celtics. That Bubba! Sara can pay for the cruise, what a relief. And now that Bubba and Clair are so committed to each other, Bubba doesn't want to cheat by collecting his fee (ie: blackmail booty call) from Sara. Sara is totally offended that Bubba doesn't want to sleep with her. OMG - so offended! It's the mannish way that she walks, apparently, that did Bubba in.
Now that Sara's off the hook with Bubba, she wants to get wit' Russ Desmond even more. Sara and Jess invite the boys to their rooms with this ridiculous idea to be in the shower when the guys show up. There's no resistin' that. Nosiree. Jess stood in the shower wondering "how long Bill would be". I think she meant minute-wise, but that is an awesome double-entendre. Bill comes in, and promptly rejects all Jessica's advances. Bill = N.I., not interested. He blows up, yelling that he thought she was decent. He promises not to say anything to ruin Jess's reputation.
Russ comes to Sara's room. They talk and find out that they lurve each other, but Russ doesn't want to just use Sara like he has so many other girls, so they don't have sex.
It's 2 AM in partyland, and Mike has hit rock bottom. He plays chess (at a grad party? Laaaaaame! They shoulda played some charades while they were at it!) and only draws. No win. Kats is stalking him everywhere he goes. Bill Skater basically asks him out on a date. And when Mike goes to talk to Jessica, the whole scene seems like Jess and Bill had just been intimate.
Mike is secretly, furiously disappointed. He asks Jess to sign his yearbook, and then tries to get the hell out of there. Jess makes him read her message: "I love you, Michael". Jess tells Mike about what just happened with Bill, and the pieces fall into place: "Oh, God!... I've been trying to seduce a gay!...I am sooo dumb." These two deteriorate with laughter. They friggin' die. Jess and Mike are hysterical, all because Bill Skater is gay. Sorry, "a" gay.
Jess teases Mike about Bill's crush on him. Mike's never kissed a girl before, and he's about to do a lot more than that. Jessica takes him into the shower to wash the blood out of his hair from where Clark injured him earlier. It's very romantic. And... *lights out*
In the meantime, Maria has asked Nick to gather everyone from the party in the hull for a meeting. Mike has the same idea, and has been searching for Polly all over the ship. Polly is recovered from her electrocutioning and is watching Clark set the timer on the explosives. One hour.
Kats is also planning... uh, not mischief. I guess "mass devastation" is more appropriate. He's going to make them pay. They will pay for not hugging him after the grad ceremony. Dammit, Kats is gonna open up a world of hurt on everybody who didn't congratulate him. See, people, this is why Rule #1 of All-Night Grad Party Cruises is "You don't let Kats on your All-Night Grad Party Cruise". And, yeah, Mike and Nick both told him to get his ass into the hull for the meeting, but he's not gonna listen to those jerks. Not until his plans are complete. Wuh haha. Wuh haha. *Hack!*
So, everyone important is at the meeting: Maria, Nick, Sara, Russ, Clair, Bubba, Bill, The Rock, Polly, Jess, and Mike. Mike starts by outlining his theory that Alice did not commit suicide, she was murdered. They recreate the night from everyone's POV, Weekend-style. The gunshot... it came from the backyard, not the upstairs bedroom. Polly says that Clark pushed Alice off the ladder, and she hit her nose and died. Then they covered it up with the fake suicide and gunshots.
Suddenly the boat alarm goes off! The boat is sinking. Polly has a gun and reveals the bomb. No one leaves. Shockingly, Maria stands and tries to disarm Polly. OMG - Maria's been playing possum this whole book? Awesome! Polly tosses Maria aside, then Mike gets the gun away from her.
Kats creeps into the hull, "grinning the full length of his greasy moustache." He lit some smoke bombs so everyone would have to evacuate the ship. Take that, privileged scumbags!
Suddenly, the bomb Polly planted explodes - right in Jessica's face!!
The boat catches real fire and starts filling with water. And if there's one thing I know about Jessica, it's that she can't swim. She is pinned under debris in the boat. The water rises as everyone else escapes. Mike and The Rock stay behind to free her. Jess's arm is broken badly and Mike helps her to safety.
Once they escape, they realize that The Rock is still in there! All the guys want to be a hero and go back for him, and all the girlfriends stomp on that plan in a hurry. Single Bill goes, and as he disappears into the wreckage, the boat tips and sinks.
Polly is in the lifeboat, still going on that Clark pushed Alice offa the ladder, and he buggered the float to punish Jessica for making Polly have the party, and he stole Sara's council money to punish her for making Polly have the party, and he smothered Aunty, and he chopped down the school tree, which Russ got blamed for, but Clark didn't have a specific vendetta against Russ.
Mike has a theory: Yeah, Imaginary Clark did all that shit. Polly and electricity are a bad mix. Polly confesses that she did it all and now she can't live with herself. She happens to have one more bomb, set to go off in 5 minutes. Everyone who wants to live evacuates the area. All but Jess, who stays behind to convince Polly that Alice's death was an accident. She slipped off the ladder. Polly's parents didn't die in that car crash because of anything Polly did. It was an accident too, and there's no need to go all Kats on everyone because of it.
Polly is all good, and tosses the bomb away. And Kats is a hero to everyone above-deck for helping with the lifeboats so quickly. Haha.
The next day we find out that The Rock and Bill are ok. Maria and Nick are joining Bubba and Clair in Vegas to get married themselves so Maria will be able to stay in the country. Mike and Jess are going to go for the trip, and they tease about getting married too. Oy. For some reason, all these teenagers getting married is giving me the creeps. I don't like this ending. I'm going to rewind my brain to when Jessica got blown up... and end the book there in my mind.
So, that's that for Final Friends. So, the covers - who died in The Dance and The Graduation where a chalk outline would be relevant? I would love if the cover of the The Dance showed a chalk outline around ancient Aunty in her deathbed. That's the only way it would be true. And this one would have an outline around Kats's dignity, or something. Except that would be pretty abstract and only we would understand it.
Thursday (yes, this Thursday!) come 'round for The Grave, which one commenter speculated was the worst Christopher Pike book of all time.