Sunday, July 14, 2019

REVIEW: Scavenger Hunt (book) by Christopher Pike

Scavenger Hunt is a weird blend of YA horror and SFF. It was originally published in 1989. I read it via interlibrary loan.

This review includes some spoilers.


This book begins with a cryptic scene of a young man running from something, possibly either a demon or a cult. He takes refuge in a church, where he tells the priest his story. Then the book switches over to Carl, a young man living in a nearly dead desert town. His best friend Joe was killed in a freak flood nearly a year ago, and he's basically just been existing since then. The only reason he's at all excited about the scavenger hunt that's about to begin is because Cessy, a sexy newcomer, has asked him to be on her team.

Tracie would have liked to have had Carl on her team, but unfortunately Cessy managed to ask him first. Tracie has had a crush on Carl for a while, but she's shy, and then Joe's death happened, and she and Carl just sort of drifted apart. The scavenger hunt at least gives them one last chance to interact before she leaves for college, although some of their team members make things awkward.

Carl's team consists of Cessy, her brother Davey, and Tom (Carl's brain-injured former football player friend). Tracie's team consists of Paula (Joe's girlfriend, who's been angry since his death), and Rick (Paula's genius younger brother, who's in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy). Both teams get off to a strong start, but it isn't long before they become aware that there's something odd about this scavenger hunt.

This is technically another one of my nostalgia reads, but only insofar as it's another book by Christopher Pike. I honestly don't think I read this when I was a teen. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered at least some of the stuff at the end.

I figured out one of the book's twists only 40 or so pages in. I thought I had the rest of it figured out by the halfway point, but, as usual, Pike just kept on making things weirder. I can't even say it was the good kind of weird. It was like Pike pulled a few nouns out of a hat and crammed them into one big plot twist. Lizards, gold mining, acid (the burning kind, not the drug kind), and dead people.

I hated how things turned out with Rick - it felt like a form of euthanasia, a way for Pike to avoid having to deal with Rick's medical prognosis and the horrors of the American medical insurance system. And the scene with the dog was awful, even though it happened off-page.

All in all, this definitely wasn't Pike's best work. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I did read this when I was a teen, but just forgot about it.

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