Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #23: Chain Letter by Christopher Pike
A few weeks ago, a friend and I went out nostalgia-hunting at a local used book store. The idea was to find some YA novels we’d read as children, buy them, and then read the shit out of them while basking in the glow of our distant childhoods. I was mainly on the lookout for the horror trifecta I read as a child (Christopher Pike, RL Stine, Lois Duncan) but ended up finding a few other blasts from the past (namely Caroline B. Cooney), as well as some non-YA in the form of Mists of Avalon.
When I was a tween/teen, I must have read a new Christopher Pike novel every weekend, often blowing through one in a single day. And even though I have far less time to read now than I did then (I always did my homework in the bathroom, by the glow of the nightlight, after I was supposed to be in bed asleep, which freed up most of my evenings and weekends for reading), it still didn’t take more than a few scattered weekend hours to blow through Chain Letter.
Chain Letter is basically I Know What You Did Last Summer (which, if I’m not mistaken, was a Lois Duncan novel before it was a movie starring Boobies McBooberson) meets Double Dare, only the dares are super messed up. A group of friends receives a chain letter, you see, from someone who knows a terrible secret about all of them. This mysterious Caretaker (as he is known) demands of them one thing: that they each perform the tasks he assigns them, no questions asked. These tasks start out somewhat comical, stuff like running through the school dressed as a clown, repainting the school mascot in the gym, but gradually morph into more dangerous and illegal dares. The price for refusal is injury or possible death, so most of them try to play along. At least at first.
Look, this is not a great book, but I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Chain Letter, along with the Remember Me and Last Vampire series, was one of my favorite Christopher Pike books as a teen, so I have a certain fondness for it now that I probably wouldn’t have had I not read it so many times years ago. PLUS, it holds up really well if you turn off the logical part of your brain and don’t pay attention to plot holes, which is a bonus.