Last Act by Christopher Pike

(No Series)
Young Adult

Melanie was the new girl in town, a little lonely, a little bored. Then she auditioned for the school play and won the starring role. Suddenly she had a whole gang of exciting friends. But these friends shared something that Melanie did not know, something from the past. Something so terribly that none of them would ever talk about it. Until after the play's opening night. When the police came for the body, and for Melanie...

Pike again visits the typical small-town, high school teenage angst of a young female itching to fit in with her peers. From the beginning where the lead-up is focused primarily on character introduction to the semi-unrealistic ending, the story is a bit slower than some of his other stuff, a little less interesting, but still enjoyable. Plot-wise, it's a straight-out mystery, devoid of supernatural or science-fiction elements. The mystery itself is a decent enough one, where I had an idea of who the culprit may be but no clue on what the motive was. The wrap-up at the climax was satisfyingly done, with the characters staying in their skin and showing off some deranged psychological twists.

As a main character in a young adult novel, Melanie was a decent one. Seeming real enough and not irritatingly naive, she and the rest of the 'cast' helped propel everything forward. There was enough mystery left to some of the red herrings to keep suspicions and curiosity levels blooming. The villain's motives made a bizarre sense, even if how she got away with certain elements (while creative) were stretching things a little much. It's thankfully no simple ride where you have the killer pegged for certain, and kudos to Pike for introducing enough other suspects to keep the ball rolling.

There's not much romance in the story, nothing that's really hormone enriched, but it's there in the typical cute, young way. Unlike some of his other works, that doesn't dominate this story. His writing was less poetic than, say, Whisper of Death, here but it still flowed smoothly. Pacing wasn't air tight but it was still engrossing.

Will this be one of those that translates well to all ages? I'd say it's enjoyable for all age levels, but a little too young in subject to truly satisfy most adult readers. The younger audience should get a clever kick out of it, however, with it's twist-filled mystery, semi-suspenseful scenes, and compassionate characters.

As a side note, while browsing for cover artwork, I stumbled upon this quiz for fans of the book.

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