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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review of Strange Girl by Christopher Pike




Strange Girl by Christopher Pike
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Date Published: November 17, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Christopher Pike comes a brand-new fascinating and seductive new novel about a girl with a mysterious ability—but one that carries an unimaginable cost.

From the moment Fred met Aja, he knew she was different. And she was.

Aja had a gift. But her gift came with a price.

After a shocking sequence of events, Fred must look back at their relationship, and piece together all of their shared moments, so he can finally understand Aja’s precious gift…and its devastating repercussions.


Strange Girl by Christopher Pike was a different kind of story. From the beginning, you know there won't be a happy ending. I can easily see a book like this being made into a movie. It has that movie feel to it. I thought it sounded interesting and unique from the blurb, but the more I read the less I enjoyed it. I really hate that because I was so anxious to read this book. I've read and loved Christopher Pike's books in the past. Unfortunately, I didn't connect with the main characters what so ever. Aja's history and back story were interesting, and it made me wonder about her having a possible personality disorder,  but that doesn't explain the healings. Unless she's a girl with personality disorders who happens to be able to heal people as well.  Who knows? I'm still trying to figure out what the point of the whole story was. I mean, I get the messages he was trying to push(can't say I agreed with them all, but they came through loud and clear), but messages aside... what about the story itself? What was the point?

Strange Girl by Christopher Pike was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.


It was four in the morning when I heard the soft knock on our motel door. I appeared to be the only one who heard it.

Nearby, Janet and Shelly slept soundly on one bed, while on the other Dale lay like a dead man as Mike snored loudly. At the knock, I sat up on my foldout bed. I didn’t mind rollaways. If I was tired enough, I could sleep on the floor. Pulling on my pants over the gym shorts I’d been sleeping in, I slipped from beneath the sheets and answered the door.

“Hi,” Aja said and smiled. She had on the same dress she’d worn to the Roadhouse. Her hair was wet, though, as if she’d just showered, and her feet were bare. I saw no car. I assumed she’d walked over from her own nearby motel or hotel.

“This is a surprise,” I said. It was so good to see her I feared I might still be asleep, dreaming the whole thing up. “What are you doing here?”

“Want to go for a walk?”

“Right now?”

“Yes.”

I glanced at my friends; they were still out. “Give me a second, let me find my shoes and a shirt,” I said.

Minutes later we were strolling along the cracked edge of an asphalt road beside a twenty-foot fence, topped with barbed wire, that surrounded the base. The town was silent as Elder usually was at this time of morning. There wasn’t a soul in sight.
The air was heavy with moisture and the ground was damp; clouds had chased away the stars. It made me wonder if it had been raining and if that was the real reason Aja’s hair was wet. Had she been wandering around in the dark since we’d last seen her? I asked and she nodded.

“Are you nuts?” I said. “You should have hooked up with us hours ago.”

She shrugged. “You were playing and the place was noisy. Besides, I like to take walks late at night.” She glanced over. “You look surprised.”

“I’m surprised you’re here. What made you come?”

“You invited me to hear you play. You remember?”

“Sure. How did you get here? Did Bart bring you?”

“I took a bus.”

“Why didn’t you come with us?”

“I wanted to surprise you.”

“Let me get this straight. You rode here all alone, across half the state, with only the clothes on your back. And since we last saw you at the Roadhouse, you’ve been wandering around in the dark—barefoot—in a strange town all by yourself.”

“No.”

“What part are you saying no to?”

“My shoes.”

“What about your shoes?”

“I brought shoes. But I got tired of wearing them.” She added, “They’re sitting on the hood of your RV.”

“Well, that’s a relief. You’ve got your shoes to protect you. Honestly, Aja, you can’t behave like this, not in this country. You’re too pretty a girl. Anything could happen to you.”

“Anything can happen,” she appeared to agree, before adding, “Don’t worry about me.”

I shook my head. “I do worry about you.”

“Why?”

“Because . . . maybe where you come from it’s safe to wan¬der around at night. But this can be a violent town. You saw those guys at the club. They were ready to kill Mike and Dale.” When Aja didn’t respond I looked over at her. “But they didn’t because you showed up. How did you get them to stop?”

“I didn’t do anything. They were afraid, that’s all. They didn’t want to hurt anybody. And when they understood that, everything was okay.”

I shook my head. “If Shelly had stood on that table instead of you and begged that drunken herd to calm down, they would have beaten the shit out of her. What you did was amazing.”

“Fred.”

“What?”

“I can’t be in danger one minute and amazing the next. You have to make up your mind.”

She had a point, sort of. I was contradicting myself. Not that she still wasn’t acting naive. “What I mean is . . . ,” I began.

She interrupted by reaching over and taking my hand. “I liked when you sang by yourself at the beginning,” she said.

Her hand felt good in mine. “You were there at the start? I didn’t see you.”

“Yes. At first you were nervous, then you relaxed.” She added as if to herself, “You enjoy singing in front of people.”

For such a naive girl, I thought, she was perceptive.

“I do,” I said. When she didn’t reply, I asked, “How have you been this last week?”

“Good.”

“It must have made you mad getting expelled on your second day of school.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll be there Monday.”

I shook my head. “I can’t understand why Billard hates you.”

“She doesn’t hate me.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s afraid of me.”

“Huh?”

“We met over the summer.”

“Where?”

“At the town cemetery. I often walk there.”

“What happened at the cemetery?”

Aja hesitated. “Better you ask her.”

“Why?”

“She’ll explain.”

I pushed Aja to elaborate but she just shook her head and kept walking. I finally decided to shut my mouth and enjoy the touch of her hand, which was remarkably soothing. I don’t know how far we’d walked when I noticed that I was feeling awfully energized for a guy who hadn’t really slept in two days. More, I felt light, light as a balloon, as if I wasn’t walking but floating alongside the fence. And the clouds in the sky, they felt somehow closer, like I could touch them.

Aja suddenly stopped and faced me, her big, brown eyes bright in the dark night. She reached up and stroked my cheek, my hair, and even though I did my best to stay cool I trembled. She inched up on her toes and kissed me on the lips, just for a second or two.

“Let’s go back to your RV,” she said.

“You mean the motel? You can sleep on my foldout. I can sleep on the floor.”

Aja shook her head and tightened her grip on my hand. She began to lead me back the way we’d come. “I want to sleep with you in the RV.”
I don’t recall much about the walk back. But I do remember lying beside her on the cushions in the rear of the RV, our two bodies barely fitting between the crush of our equipment. We didn’t have sex—we didn’t even make out, nor did she kiss me again.

But she held me and let me hold her and for the first time in my life I felt as if all my hidden fears had been deftly exposed and quietly put to bed, once and for all. I had fought with her that it wasn’t safe to wander alone in the dark, but when I slept with her cheek resting on mine, and felt the brush of her eyelashes as they fluttered during her dreams, I was the one who felt protected.

1. How long have you been writing?
    I started writing when I was twenty-one.  I sold my first book, Slumber Party, when I was twenty-eight.

2.  What inspired you to write Strange Girl?
    My girlfriend of fifteen years, Abir.  She suggested I write a story that starts like a basic love story.  Where a boy -- Fred -- meets a girl -- Aja -- at the beginning of his senior year in high school and gets a crush on her.  But after spending time with her, Fred begins to discover Aja is…well, kind of strange.  She’s very peaceful, nothing seems to bother her.  He doesn’t know why she’s so different, and to make matters worse, it’s almost impossible for him to get her to talk about her past.  But the whole point of the book was to write a story where I had no idea what was going to happen next.  To just write what came to me each day.  In that way I was in the dark in just the same way Fred was in the dark.  But the strange thing is -- there’s that word again -- a wonderful story unfolded all by itself.

3.  Which do the characters do you relate to and why?
    I relate to Fred.  In the book he’s an aspiring singer/songwriter.  In high school I tried to learn to play the guitar so I could put chords to songs I was trying to write.  I had just two problems: I couldn’t sing to save my life and I wrote terrible songs.  My songs were more like poetry, actually, they were not meant to be sung.  Oh, I had a third problem.  I was tone deaf.  But even though I had all these obstacles that Fred doesn’t suffer from -- in the book he is actually quite talented -- I relate to him because I think he’s the guy I wanted to be when I was young.

4.  What is a secret about you that nobody knows?
    Boy that’s a hard one, I can think of many humiliating things about myself that no one knows but I’m not going to write about them here.  But there is one that I suppose I can talk about.  Everyone I know sees me as a hard worker.  They think I have the most amazing work ethic, incredible discipline.  But the truth is I’m a terrible procrastinator.  I tell everyone I like to write at night because no one calls to interrupt my chain of thought.  But the truth is I write at night because it takes me the whole day to psyche myself into sitting down at my computer and getting to work.  The odd thing is -- once I do begin to work -- I’m very happy.  Yet I go through the same procrastination exercise every day of my life.  I wonder why?

5.  If your real life as a teenager was a Young Adult novel, what would you, the main character, be like?
    As I mentioned above, I would have enjoyed being like Fred when I was in high school.  But I was no Fred: I had no talent, nor did I have the nerve to go up to a pretty girl and ask her out, which Fred does in the very first chapter of my book.  If I tried to write a book based on what my real life had been like when I was in high school I’m afraid it would be boring.  Like I mentioned, I was extremely shy in school.  I never dated -- I was afraid of girls.  I spent most of my free time reading and running.  I enjoyed running track and cross country.  Most of all, I spent endless hours going for long walks and concocting elaborate fantasies.  I feel my daydreaming led me to become a writer.

6.  What book have you read too many times to count?
    The Lord of the Rings.  Dune.  The Time Traveler’s Wife.  Every mystery Agatha Christie ever wrote.  Every sci-fi book Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov ever wrote.  

7.  What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
    Write every day, even if only for a few minutes.  It’s important to stay in contact with a book you’re working on.  Also, finish the books you begin!  So many beginning writers I know never complete a single novel.  They keep jumping from story to story and never get anywhere.

8.  If you could hop into any fictional character, who would it be and why?
    I would love to be Sam in The Lord of the Rings.  Sam is surrounded by powerful characters: Gandalf the Wizard; Galadriel the elf queen; Frodo the bearer of the ring.  But at the end of the day it is simple plain common sense Sam who saves the quest.  I love the way Tolkien wrote Sam -- I think he was writing about himself.

9.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
    When I finally got published and was able to support myself with my writing, I discovered my subconscious mind knew more than my conscious mind.  Even when I planned out a book ahead of time in detail, I’d often reach the last chapter and discover a new and shocking ending waiting for me.  Many times it was a case where the new ending was obvious once I discovered it, and yet, it never occurred to me until I got to the end of the book.  Now I have faith in letting a story take me where it wants to go.

10.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
    I hang out with my girlfriend.  We’re both addicted to books.  We’ll lie together in bed together and read all day and hardly move.  Or else we’ll talk about books for hours at a time and continually interrupt each other.  I also like to go for long walks in the hills behind Santa Barbara.  One day I’m sure I’m going to sprain my ankle and get trapped back there for days.  I never bring a cell phone when I hike -- I enjoy the solitude.

11.  Are any of the things in your books based on real life experiences or is it all just your imagination?
    A handful of the spiritual experiences I talk about in Strange Girl and Sati and Remember Me are based on real life experiences.  I suffered serious asthma as a child and once had an out of body experience one night when I was on the verge of smothering to death.  I based much of what Shari went through in Remember Me, when she died, on what I experienced.  Also, I’ve been to India a few times and have been fortunate enough to meet two yogis that were -- for lack of a better word -- the “real deal.”  Understand I’m not into gurus or cults or the New Age.  But these two yogis both gave me an experience I find impossible to describe: something expansive; something blissful; something eternal.  In an indirect way, Strange Girl deals with these experiences.  I say indirect because Strange Girl can be read on many levels.  Most people will say it’s a love story.  Others might say it’s a mystery.  But I like to think it is a “Mystical Fable,” if there even is such a thing.
author
Christopher Pike is a bestselling author of young adult novels. The Thirst series, The Secret of Ka, and the Remember Me and Alosha trilogies are some of his favorite titles. He is also the author of several adult novels, including Sati and The Season of Passage.

Thirst and Alosha are slated to be released as feature films. Pike currently lives in Santa Barbara, where it is rumored he never leaves his house.

To learn more about Christopher Pike and his books, visit her website.You can also find him on Goodreads, Facebook, and Wattpad.

Enter to win: 
25 paperback copies of STRANGE GIRL 
5 paperback sets of RED QUEEN and BLACK KNIGHT 
5 paperback sets of all 5 copies of THIRST series (1-5) in PB. 
5 paperback copies CHAIN LETTER 
5 paperback  copies UNTIL THE END 
5 paperback copies BOUND TO YOU 
5 paperback copies REMEMBER ME
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