Rela has just bought herself a new VCR. She sets the machine to tape a movie she plans to show at a party she is throwing. But instead of the movie she gets the news – tomorrow’s news.
Soon Rela is regularly recording next week’s news, even what is to happen in the far future. It’s fun, at first, until she sees herself on the news. And learns that there is no future for her.
But can she change destiny?
Can Rela survive what is meant to be? (goodreads.com)
Pike has a tendency of going a bit beyond the cheese in his books and I think they may possibly transcend time better as a result but THE ETERNAL ENEMY, despite it being ultimately really good, was a bit much.
Rela (who sounds a lot like Sita in THE LAST VAMPIRE) throws down her savings on a new VCR (OMG HA!) only to find out it keeps taping the future. Not only that, the boy she has a major crush on seems to spark something in her that she can’t explain. He’s more important than he should be yet somehow familiar and she doesn’t know why.
I like what could have been with the plot had it been left alone. SPOILER ALERT Rela’s grandfather invents artificial intelligence designed to save man. That AI creates a better AI ad infinitum except that spirals out of control and humanity dies out as a result of good intentions. Rela, an AI with the ability to think herself back in time does just that in order to prevent all of that from happening. END SPOILER What somewhat ruins it is the nearly 40 pages of slogging infodump (in a 180 page book) explaining why and how everything happened. If you’ve ever read Pike’s SATI you’ll have seen this there as well with spiritual information but this was scientific and technical and I think went on far longer and I glazed over a lot of it. I got the gist but nothing more. It was just too much.
I give Pike a load of credit because it’s obvious he put a lot of thought into these books to make them more than just standard teen horror and without all of that exposition this would have been an insane book anyway, worthy of that effort. But it was too much. WAY too much. I could have lived with 20 pages but any more than that and you’ll get the glassy-eyed readers. I think it ruined what could have been a fantastic book.
Ignore that part (and you can, just skim Chapter 13 because most of it is unnecessary information anyway) it still is a great story. It’s a setting with a lot of character without the characters even being involved. With the overly tanned meathead at Circuit City (OMG) to it being in Pasadena and the party and all the kids it just felt very California to me. I mean I could FEEL it. And then once everything started happening it made it all come alive even more with the suspense and the thrills and the characters not knowing what’s going on and just generally being so REAL (if not a little wooden) that it sucks you in. It’s so unique a story that it’ll really stay with you.
Just ignore the sagging toward the ending. Seriously. It’s not necessary to enjoy the story. I’ve already forgotten most of it and I still really liked the book. So if you want something different in the old school YA horror world THE ETERNAL ENEMY is definitely it. It’s a bit creepy, full of suspense and you won’t want to put it down because it’s so damn intriguing.