Very few books I read in my childhood has stayed with me the way this book has. It’s extremely thought-provoking, and a little advanced for even a teenager. The writing style, and the lovelorn girl’s wishes are all juvenile though, which makes me excited for when I finally get my hands on one of his adult novels. I’m kind of upset that this wasn’t an adult novel, but if it had been, there’s a good chance that he wouldn’t have resonated with me the way he did.
The book is about a girl who is the beginning and the end. She begins the book by meeting a young man named Tem only a week before she goes up into space and will remain there for 200 Earth years. It’s a little gross, how she’s suddenly like, “Oh, I just love you so much, Tem. I can’t live without you,” but I guess that’s how teenagers act. So she goes up into space and while she’s up there, the planet gets destroyed and then the aliens come and take over her ship. Luckily, one of them is nice and sends her ship into what I guess you could consider “hyperdrive”, where they’re now traveling at an amazing speed and time is just passing ludicrously all around them.
So they’re trapped in super time because the alien never told them how to slow down. All this time passes when there is a “presence” felt, and a kind of Supreme Being begins speaking to them and tells them how to slow down. So they slow down, find a passenger ship where people are frozen, Tem being one of them. But as they wake up the people, the main character finds out Tem is dead, so she takes him to Earth to bury him. Once there, he awakens as a Supreme Being and pretty much tells her she needs to hijack the ship and go into hyperdrive again, so that she can do all seven steps to become a Supreme Being herself.
Confused? It gets worse. So as she’s alone on this ship, she watches the universe die and then gets reborn into the SAME EXACT UNIVERSE. The Supreme Being said there might be subtle differences, but I didn’t see any. So she lands on Earth the time that Tem was alive, meets and tries to kill her past self like she did before, and then waits for past self to leave before making a move on Tem. They get married and she ends up cloning them both, but they’re born as babies so Tem doesn’t know they’re clones.
So they get up to the sky, and the main character kills Tem, reawakens her clone’s memories, creates the same aliens that destroyed Earth, then kills herself. Meanwhile, clone her has taken over this story. Clone her is in love with her “brother”, who is also named Tem. Clone her sets about destroying the aliens after they have destroyed Earth, and Tem ends up dying in the process. So now her boyfriend that she fought so hard to keep is dead twice. So she’s upset and travels to a bunch of different planets until she finds a planet similar to how Native Americans lived. She lives with them until they send her up to the mountain to speak to the High Elder, who tells her she has been the Supreme Being she originally spoke to on the ship in her first life. So then she walks away and Supreme Being Tem joins her and happily ever after, the end.
Something I have always loved about Christopher Pike is how his stories aren’t necessarily horror, and they have all these twists and turns about them to keep you guessing. I can vaguely remember a story he wrote where this girl kept drawing this boy’s face and couldn’t figure out why. Turns out, she accidentally killed him. But wait! Her best friend actually did! (If I recall correctly).
This book won’t be leaving my shelf anytime soon, and if I were you, I’d go pick yourself up a copy. This is wonderful.
- “How do I explain a life that has lasted for billions of years? It is almost as if I must start with an apology for being alive when everyone I once knew is dead.”
- “You cannot know true joy when you are bound by desire. It is not possible.”
- “Confusion is the beginning of knowing. Certainty is the bane of wisdom. You must know that you do not know, before you can learn.”