I have to start out by saying I have been a huge fan of Christopher Pike and his books for nineteen years. I started reading his books around the time I was 11 or 12, and if I’m remembering correctly, the first one I ever read was Whisper of Death. Unfortunately I don’t remember that book very well, but reading it influenced me to purchase the first Pike book I would ever own (which is still either my #1 or #2 favorite, depending on the day you ask me), Remember Me.
It’s been especially exciting over the past few years to see The Last Vampire re-packaged for a whole new generation of fans to enjoy, and then to eventually see Pike start releasing brand new books such as Thirst No. 3 and Thirst No. 4–and now Witch World. Before I knew what Witch World was about, I assumed it would be another bind-up like To Die For, but I was ridiculously happy to find out it was totally new.
Witch World begins with the graduating senior class of Apple Valley High planning a trip for a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas. Jessie is still in love with her ex-boyfriend, Jimmy, and her drive to Las Vegas becomes uncomfortable after she finds out he’ll be riding there in the same car with her. She still doesn’t understand why he broke up with her, and it hurts her that he left her for his previous girlfriend, Kari. Jessie is hoping that while they are in Las Vegas she’ll finally get the truth behind their break-up.
Once in Las Vegas, Jessie and her best friend Alex break away from their classmates and head out on their own into the casinos armed with their fake IDs. At a 21 table, Jessie and Alex encounter a handsome stranger named Russ who doesn’t seem to be able to lose the game. When Jessie is left alone at the table, she follows Russ’s lead and begins to win at the game herself–the sum is astonishing, and will pay her college tuition. Later on that evening in Russ’s room, he teaches Jessie a game called 22 and she learns another version of herself exists in an alternate reality called witch world.
Alternate reality/time travel stories are tricky to follow, and it takes a very skilled writer to make it have sense to the readers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up with Christopher Pike’s thought process in this book. Perhaps it’s because I just had too many follow-up questions, I didn’t pay close enough attention, or it simply hasn’t been explained yet. I did learn that there is to be a sequel to Witch World, so I am hoping if we are purposely kept in the dark about certain things, then it will be explained in the next book.
Pike’s witches are actually pretty unique; there are no magic potions, spells, or anything generally associated with witches. I didn’t quite grasp all of the scientific explanations, but there are genes that determine if a person is a witch or not. In Witch World, there appear to be two different groups of witches, a group call the Tars and another called the Lapras. Both sets are powerful, and both are dangerous. Once Jessie becomes “connected” to witch world, she slowly begins to recover Jessica’s memories and learns that she and James (the witch world version of Jimmy) conceived a daughter together. Lara, their daughter, is the only witch to have ever been born that possesses all ten genes. This is why each group wants her in their clutches, but I think it still remains to be seen which side has the best intentions.
As is tradition with Christopher Pike novels, many of the characters have very rich, fully fleshed out back stories. Their narratives sometimes can go on for pages and pages, but I felt with this particular title there were simply too many things going on. In the late 80s and 90s when Christopher Pike’s books were first being published, they were at most 200 pages. In today’s publishing, books in the YA genre on average are around 400 or 500 pages, so Pike now has to meet those publishing needs. In my opinion, it just made this story suffer. Too many characters, too many various plot lines, too many different settings and a world that just wasn’t explained enough for readers to follow. Unfortunately most of what I’d want to expand upon are events which occur later in the books, and would be incredibly huge spoilers for people who haven’t yet read the book. For those people, I’d strongly recommend taking notes on characters and explanations as they are provided, and then trying to make sense of it all once you’ve finished the book. I began taking notes, but wasn’t always reading in a location where I had access to my notes or could jot any down. I feel as if there were some contradictions; they may have been intentional, since I seem to remember another Pike novel that discussed paradoxes.
I’ve re-read nearly every Christopher Pike novel I own numerous times, but sadly I don’t see myself wanting to read this again at any point. I’m interested enough in Witch World to read at least one sequel and then decide from there if I want to read any further novels in the series. As with any favorite author of mine, I’m bound to be on the fence about a title or two. I had high hopes for this one since it’s the first novel in years featuring new characters, but it just wasn’t for me. As always, I’ll be eagerly waiting for whatever comes next.