First published in 1999, this is a weird book.
It opens with a college student named Ted Lovett thinking that he’s going to meet a woman in the woods, just to instead get captured by a cult who strip him naked and then bury him alive. We then jump over to the story of Kerri, who is a typical 90s YA heroine — she’s got a job at a record store, her sister is dead, her father abandoned the family, her mom is hooked on cocaine, and her boyfriend is clingy loser. It’s the boyfriend part that bothers Kerri the most. She’s totally bored with him but just can’t bring herself to sit down with him and tell him that it’s over.
Then, one day, the mysterious and handsome Oscar shows up in the record store and soon, Kerri is spend the night over at his place and kind of cheating on her boyfriend. I say “kind of” because Kerri doesn’t really consider him to be a boyfriend, despite the fact that they’re dating and they’ve slept together a few times. With her mother still abusing drugs and Oscar acting all mysterious, Kerri has a lot to deal with but all of that drama is nothing compared to what happens when Oscar tosses Kerri into a freezer.
So, is Oscar a part of the cult that buried poor Ted Lovett? Or is he the ghost of Ted Lovett and this all a part of grand plan to turn Kerri into a half-dead, half-living zombie who is pregnant with the modern day equivalent of Pan, a hooved God who will maybe save the world but maybe not?
Yes, The Grave is an odd book. There’s a lot going on in The Grave. In fact, there’s probably a little bit too much going on. The Grave is only a 194 pages long, which means that Kerri is often surprisingly quick to accept the strangest explanations for what’s going on. If you learned that you had been selected to give birth to a satyr that’s going to save the world but, in order to do so, you have to basically die first, you’d probably demand a bit more of an explanation than Kerri does. I know that I would.
Speaking of Kerri, how much drama can one person have in their life? Abandoned by her father, haunted by her sister’s death, and forced to deal with her mom’s cocaine addiction, just one of those would have been enough but tossing all three in there just feels like overkill. And that’s eve before she becomes pregnant with Pan.
With The Grave, you get the feeling that Christopher Pike just tossed a bunch of random stuff at the wall to see what would stick. It’s a mess but occasionally, it’s entertaining in its messiness. If nothing else, it has an important lesson to impart about not putting yourself in a situation where you can be buried alive. That’s an important lesson to learn.