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The Secret of Ka

After anticipating Christopher Pike’s long-awaited newest novel, The Secret of Ka, for months, I could not wait to dive right into the story when I got my copy. I was so disappointed in it, however, that I was left wondering if this was the same CP that I grew up loving throughout my childhood and adolescence.

First of all, the story is incredibly boring. I loved having a protagonist who shared my name—but that coincidental fact was where my interest stopped. Unlike so many other Pike novels—indeed, all of the ones I’ve read, and that’s nearly all of them—it was vague, with chatty, unrealistic dialogue and even overused cultural clichés that I would never expect in one of his books. Upon further inspection, I realized that the book was designed for a younger audience, which is perhaps why most of the scary, unearthly circumstances I’m used to with one of my all-time favorite authors were not present—but then again, they were surely present in the Alosha series, which was bloody brilliant yet also intended for a younger audience.

Indeed, Pike has never minced his words, nor his violence—so why were we left with Ka? I had the dubious feeling I had after watching Alice in Wonderland and realizing that perhaps Burton toned it down because it was a Disney film (or perhaps it was just for the children—which was wasted, then, with the few scenes that made it unfit for most kids under eight). Was this a publisher decision? I don’t know if this was Pike’s original intended storyline or not, but it sure did not feel like him in many parts.

Some of the mystery we’ve come to associate him was there, sure, which is the only thing that keeps you turning the pages—but much of it was simply annoying and vague, rather than open to celestial miracles, space travel, or underworld intervention, or anything as amazing as we’ve seen in his other works. If there were mythological allusions, they definitely weren’t well incorporated as usual; and though there were some twists in the book, they were random and dissatisfying, not causing the shock we’re used to with Pike because the relationships they depended upon were simply not well defined. I found myself not caring at all about these characters, which was a pity, since many of his characters—particularly ones he’s killed off in the past—have been some of the strongest ones who’ve stuck with me, even after having read them over a decade ago.

I really hope to read more from Christopher Pike; I miss his work so much. But if we are lucky enough to get another work from him, I’m also hoping that it will be in his former terror-tory rather than this bland, safer world he’s presented in Ka. He has mentioned sequels, though, so who knows? Maybe it will get better and richer. But as The Last Vampire, Remember Me, Final Friends, and any other serial works by Pike have proven in the past, the first novel often sets the tone for the whole series—which, up to this point, has always been a wonderful thing.