First published in 1995, this is an odd one.
The book opens with our main character waking up in middle of the wilderness. She has no idea who she is or where she is. She doesn’t know why she’s covered in blood. What she does know is that there’s another girl lying a few feet away from her and she’s been stabbed to death! Did the living girl kill the other girl? She knows that she didn’t but, at the same time, she also knows that everyone will assume that she did.
It’s only after our main character stumbles across her car that she discovers that her name is Jenny. It’s only when she drives to a nearby town that she discovers that she lives with her overworked mom and her little brother. Apparently she goes to school and she has a job but Jenny can’t remember the specifics of any of it. Also, Jenny has a best friend named Crystal and they’re so extremely close that people are shocked whenever they see that Jenny is by herself. In fact, no one has seen Crystal for a while. Where could she be …. uh-oh.
Now, if this was an R.L. Stine novel, this is where you would expect some sort of cutesy twist to kick in. This is where you would look up from the book and says, “Ah-ha! I bet Jenny actually is Crystal and Jenny is just some imaginary character that she created to help her deal with a past trauma!” However, this is not an R.L. Stine novel. This is a Christopher Pike novel and Christopher Pike was always a hundred times darker than R.L. Stine ever was. If Stine always ended his books with a return to normalcy and maybe a joke or two, Pike’s novels took his characters to Hell and usually abandoned them there.
Even as she tries to figure out what type of life she’s led up until losing her memory, Jenny finds herself having dreams and visions where she’s in another person’s body, watching as they smoke hash, commit murders, and perform occult ceremonies. Soon, Jenny is investigating just what exactly it means to have a soul and whether or not a soul can move from one body to another. And, as she discovers more about the circumstances of Crystal’s death, she’s forced to consider just how far she’ll go to get revenge….
AGCK! Seriously, this is pretty dark stuff for a YA novel. I would have had nightmares if I had read this when I was a child. But that’s the thing with Christopher Pike. When he told a horrific story, he didn’t hold back. Instead, he created a world where happy endings often did not exist. The Lost Mind is dark and morbid and, even reading it now as an snarky and sarcastic adult, the book’s mystery was still intriguing. The book started out with a murder and it ended with a bang. Someone needs to turn this one into a Lifetime film.