The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: September 2010
Format: e-Book (ARC)
(Also available in Hardcover)
Age Group: Young Adult +
I really wanted to like THE SECRET OF KA but frankly was disappointed, especially since I was a fan of Pike’s teen mystery novels growing up. I was drawn to the beautiful cover of THE SECRET OF KA and the interesting story because it reminded me of Aladdin and I was excited by the location, but I immediately disliked Sara’s snotty and I’m-better-than-everyone and I-know-more-than-you attitude — and she’s the protagonist in a foreign land.
Sara, an American teenager, is extremely bored with being in Istanbul, Turkey. Her father who is employed for an oil company out in the boonies is at work a hundred percent of the time, so Sara is on stuck on her own at the Hilton with room-service and visiting the local beach outside the hotel.
When her father receives a delivery from a cute and friendly Turkish messenger boy, Amesh, Sara is not only bratty to him, she’s egotistical and completely disrespectful toward his Islamic culture. She continuously puts on an air of American superiority which isn’t fair to Amesh or anyone for that matter.
I was surprised by the way he was treated that Amesh went along with her. She practically bribed him to take her to her father’s job site. While she’s there, she discovers an ancient rug stuck under some rocks. The two argue about how to get the rug out of the job site without raising suspicion and eventually bring it back to the hotel only to discover the rug is a magic carpet that can fly.
The still arguing duo decide to take the carpet out to the beach to test it out. And when they do, the carpet takes them across the sea to a secret island not found on any map by Amesh’s calculations. While Amesh is asleep, Sara figures out that she can talk to the carpet through the stars in the carpet’s design. It tells her they have landed on an island which holds the magical powers of the Djinn or genies. Once Amesh learns that the carpet can communicate, he becomes obsessed with being granted a wish from a genie. The tables quickly turn on Sara. Amesh gets his wish, plus a second more dangerous one and leaves her stranded on the island taking the carpet with him. That’s about as far as I got.
The plot of THE SECRET OF KA was all over the place. Things would suddenly crop up in the story that had me shaking my head. Then the idea or the plot twist would never happen again. As I was reading the novel, I started to wonder if it was written more for a younger audience other than older teens.
As for characters, they can certainly be anti-heroic and even be bad guys, but they all should have some endearing qualities. The chemistry between Sara and Amesh seems forced. And at times, Amesh sounds extremely Americanized. For example, using slang words like “amazing” just like we’ve come to over-use here in the United States.
The facts about Turkey were definitely incorrect. It seems more like the characters were in the barren deserts of Baghdad than in the modern city of Istanbul which resembles London and New York with skyscrapers, high speed trains, chic restaurants, clubs and galleries among the Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Pike clearly didn’t do his research or has never set foot in metropolis honored yearly as a European Capitol of Culture.
I personally feel that whether you visit a country in Europe, Asia or the Middle East, we should take in to account the different customs, ways of thinking and cultural differences. We should treat others with care and respect. Sara doesn’t follow this at all. Maybe this is the theme of the story but it’s lost within a mish-mash of fables and folklore in a confusing story.
If you are interested in reading THE SECRET OF KA, give it a shot. You might see something I didn’t and like it immensely.
I’m giving The Secret of Ka 2 “Relaxing with a Good Book” retro pictures for being a definite flat tire.
Purchase THE SECRET OF KA at:
Leave a Comment