Title: The Secret of Ka
Author: Christopher Pike
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 416
Why I read it: Netgalley review copy
Publication Date: September 13, 2010
One minute Sara's bored on vacation in Istanbul. The next, she's unearthed a flying carpet that cleverly drags her to the mysterious Island of the Djinn—or genies. By her side is Amesh, a hot boy she's starting to love but doesn't yet trust. When Amesh learns the secret of invoking djinn, he loses control. He swears he'll call upon only one djinn and make one wish. The plan sounds safe enough. But neither Sara nor Amesh are any match for the formidable monster that that swells before them. It hypnotizes Amesh, compelling him to steal Sara’s flying carpet—the ancient Carpet of Ka—and leave her stranded.
Discovering the Carpet of Ka has sparked a new path for Sara, one that will lead her to battle creatures even deadlier than djinn. In this fight, Sara can save mankind, herself, or the boy she loves. Who will she be forced to sacrifice?
So, I spent a good portion of my teenage years reading Christopher Pike. Probably, at the time, he was my favorite author. I haven't gone back to read any of the same books to see how they stood the test of time. I suspect the writing quality is about the same now as it was then. Easy, entertaining reading that will appeal to teens.
The story here was different than most of the other YA fantasy that's on the market right now. There wasn't a love triangle in sight, thank goodness. The problem was that I found the romance completely unbelievable, and almost annoying at times. It was possibly because I found Amesh to be an entirely unlikable character, with almost no redeeming qualities. He is selfish, rude, jealous . . . and that's before he is badly influenced by a djinn. I just can't understand how or why Sara falls in love with him, except that she thinks he's attractive, which is so annoyingly shallow I just can't get behind a romance like that.
Sara was an interesting character--definitely not my favorite, and not one that I would want to be friends with in real life, but she's a fairly strong female character, which is nice because that can be so rare in YA these days. This wasn't the best written story, but it was entertaining enough that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, and the end, which I assume was the set-up for another book, was pretty intense and enough to make me pick up the next one. It was a bit too abrupt and cliff-hangery for me, but that's the norm--it's rare to find a standalone novel anymore.
I would recommend this to fans of YA fantasy. Just don't go in with your expectations too high. Now I want to go back and re-read some of my old teen book loves by Pike, and see how they compare.