Whisper of Death - Christopher Pike

(No Series)
Young Adult

Roxanne and Pepper are a teenage couple with problems. They leave their small town for a weekend to try and solve them. They don't really succeed, and when they return home they find their town empty. They call other towns. They find the whole world empty. But eventually they discover three other kids their age who are still alive in town. They cannot imagine why the five of them seem to be the only ones left of the entire human race. They have only one thing in common. They were each directly or indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue - the plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short time ago. Betty Sue - the quiet, brilliant girl who wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world. It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was. Or what Betty Sue was.

No matter that this is a work originally for young adults, don't let that fool you. The plot was creative as hell, clever, with interesting twists and an unpredictable ending. The scenes work together evenly, not feeling rushed or out of place. The only section I had minor issues with was the first chapter - while revealing back-story, I grew a little impatient for the action to begin. It took off from there like a firework though, and I finished the rest of the book admiring the beauty that kept shooting from the sparks.

The atmosphere was depressing and frustrating; not as light as I expected for this age level. There were some creepy scenarios, some tragic ones, even bringing tears to my eyes. The ending was dark and dusty, leaving a bitter feeling in my stomach. The atmosphere remained consistent throughout.

'Whisper of Death' was written through Roxanne's eyes as a first person POV. This is a less common viewpoint and more frowned on by publishers (many readers, too), but I don't get why, as I always enjoy it. Rox convinced me. I applaud Pike for having such a realistic character who considered the things she does and has normal 'teenage reasoning'.

Pepper - it was hard to know what to think of him sometimes, but I ended up really caring about his future. Their love story was emotionally wrenching, particularly at the end. Stan was a delightful addition and one of my favorites. Helter and Leslie weren't anything to fall in love with, and Leslie was the more shallow of the characters, but they all worked to do their job.

Besides having a creative mind, Pike's style fits this novel. He enjoys long paragraphs. His dialogue is convincing and reveals tons. The chemistry between the characters seems genuine in the way he writes it. He injects mucho drama into several scenes with his wording and technique.

Sometimes his vocabulary is quite poetic, such as the beginning:

'I sit alone in a dead world. The wind blows hot and dry, and the dust gathers like particles of memory waiting to be swept away.'

Reading this sentence set up an ideal mood and a dreary atmosphere. It finished off almost dreamy in a way. His writing does not continue to be this poetic, of course, because that would just make reading it tedious; he uses creativity when needed, and other times just employs damn good writing.

What a blast from the past! I hadn't read this one in years. I knew it was a good idea not to toss away most of the Pike novels from a younger age. This type of work, with its creativity, originality, genuineness, and passion - is, and forever remains, timeless.

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