Christopher Pike Book Club: Weekend (1986)

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed “Slumber Party”, the last entry in the Christopher Pike book club, because this week’s entry “Weekend” is essentially the same story.

The similarities popped up right away – opening with a car trip in which three friends are headed to the palatial getaway of another one of their friends for a weekend-long party. The trip, once again, is tinged with a note of sorrow because the friend they’re going to visit, one “Robin Carlton”, was horribly injured at a previous party! First the group coming to the party proves smaller than anticipated (only the people at the original party show up, plus a mysterious stranger), then they find themselves cut off from all communications, way out in the desert where no one will be able to find them, trapped with whoever caused Robin’s “accident” in the first place.

That’s roughly where the similarities end, so it’s not like this is a complete rehash, after all, it’s set in the desert, rather than the mountains, so that like… oposites, right? The central plot points are so close to identical that it’s hard to look the other way. Not just because the lead this time around, one ‘Shani’ (never found out what that’s short for, if anything), is essentially the exact same character as Lara from Slumber Party, the pretty-yet-unsure-of-herself lead who feels guilty about a past transgression but doesn’t let that get in the way of her trying to snag a boyfriend.

You know I almost put hyphens between all of those words, but thought better of it at the last moment. You’re welcome.

Another change is the much larger cast, which Pike juggles with a much larger degree of confidence than the characters last time around. It helps that all the characters have their own minor storylines and concerns that weave in and out of the main ‘people trapped in an isolated location’ master plot.

The biggest element borrowed from the last novel is the inclusion of ‘Flynn’, a mysterious character who’s new at school, and has a connection to one of the other members of the cast. Once we’re told that Robin and her sister Lena Carlton are both adopted it’s not exactly difficult to guess just what Flynn’s involvement is, especilly once the information shows up that Robin needs a kidney transplant from a blood relative in order to survive.

And that’s the central mystery of the story – who poisoned Robin at the party six months earlier? Normally she never drank, but at that party the combined peer pressure convinced her to have a drink, and she wound up with one spiked with insecticide! It’s a fine jumping off point for a mystery, especially considering the extenuating circumstances – everyone was drunk at the party, so people can’t remember exactly who poured the beer, or who gave it to her. They didn’t even know she was sick until another person started having a horrible reaction to a small amount of the insecticide, and when they check on Robin she was already in a coma.

The problem with the mystery is the lack of a motive – of the two sisters everyone loved Robin and hated Lena, so either Lena’s the attempted murderer, or the poison was given to the wrong person accidentally. As I said, it’s a decent jumping-off point for a mystery, but like Slumber Party a key piece of information is withheld from the reader because it would reveal the culprit immediately. Unlike Slumber Party, though, the fact isn’t the kind of obscure thing that someone easily could have forgotten over a nine-year gap. It’s a vital clue that not only should every one of the characters have access to, but the police would have undoubtedly uncovered during their investigation into the poisoning.

Overall there’s a defininte improvement when compared to Slumber Party, but I was certainly disappointed to see so many plot points repeated verbatim. That being said, if I had to pick between the two I’d advise people to just read Weekend, since it really is better-written. Even if the mystery is more of a cheat.

So, on the newly-minted Pike Scale, this book gets a total of 1.2 Pikes.

Until next time, when we read Chain Letter, which I pray isn’t also about people going to an isolated location and dealing with the consequences of a mysterious nearly-fatal accident that befell one of their friends.

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