‘I once knew this girl who thought she was God.’
This is a very intriguing short novel. I was confused when I read it for the first time, partly because I was expecting it to be a YA novel and partly because it has a spiritual theme. Although there is no indication of the intended market, it’s for adults. On a second reading, however, I was more prepared for the strangeness of this book. I really like it but I suspect it’s one of those Marmite books. Either you’ll find it profound and bittersweet, or preachy and unsatisfying. It will also depend on whether you’re a fan of Pike’s concise style, which is no different in Sati than in his books aimed at teenagers.
The narrator is a trucker named Michael. He picks up a hitchhiker in the desert, a young woman who seems to have appeared out of nowhere. She goes by the name Sati and says she is God. No one knows what to believe about her. Michael takes her to his flat in LA, where she meets his friends who live in the same building. She soon gains a large following. All she wants is for everyone to be happy. But who is she really?
Christopher Pike was certainly in a very thoughtful mood when he wrote this book. It contains all those big questions about faith and the purpose of life. It’s also topical for the time, as one of the characters, Michael’s friend Timmy, has experienced a lot of prejudice for being a gay man with AIDS. Poverty and systemic racism leading to crime, with the difficulties of leading a decent life after being in a gang, are also explored with the character of Nick. I was interested to note that Sati describes herself as the ‘starlight crystal’ at one point, which may or may not be a link to the YA novel of that name, written a few years later.
This book is worth a try if you’re open-minded about what you read and want something a little different which you’ll be thinking about for ages after reaching the end.
First published in 1990.