The 1993 YA novel, The Eternal Enemy, starts out with a typical Christopher Pike situation.
Rela is a teenager. Rela is adopted. Rela doesn’t know much about her past. Rela has a crush on my boy whom she’s too shy to ask out but luckily she has a confident best friend who is willing to do it for her. She also has another male admirer, who she just considers to be a friend. It’s all standard Pike.
However, the twist of this particularly novel is that Rela has a VCR and apparently, the VCR can tell the future! Whenever she tries to record an old horror movie, she instead ends up with a recording of a future news broadcast. At first, Rela uses this to her advantage. She makes money betting on a football game. She heads to Vegas to make even more money and then she goes to San Francisco and saves the lives of a bunch of window washers! Other than offering up a crisp picture, allowing viewers to easily skip around in a movie, and not eventually becoming an obsolete artifact of a past age, there’s absolutely nothing that this VCR can’t do.
However, even while Rela is having fun making money and saving lives, she’s also having disturbing dreams which seem to indicate that there are strange things hidden in her past. (Well, of course. It’s a Christopher Pike book.) A mysterious and creepy older man appears to be stalking her. Maybe she should stop messing with the VCR….
Then she sees a news report about her own death.
The Eternal Enemy is one of Pike’s more uneven books. It starts out nicely, with the promise of YA horror, but then it turns into this sort of Looper/Terminator sci-fi thing. As the story reveals more about the actual identities of Rela and the creepy old man, it gets bogged down trying to explain how everything works and, if you’re not already into science fiction, it becomes a bit of chore to read. It’s hard not to get annoyed that the book starts with an interesting premise and then kind of waves it all way by using the “It’s science!” excuse.
Probably the most interesting thing about The Eternal Enemy is that the entire narrative revolves around the mystical and complex powers of a VCR. If only Rela had been born a decade later, she wouldn’t have had to deal with any of this.