Booklist: Chain Mail and Chain Letters
Current Mood: okay
Current Song: The Odd Couple theme song
Chain Mail: Addicted to You by Hiroshi Ishizaki - PG - Sawako, an overachieving junior high school student, is extremely lonely. Her mother is gone, her father distant, and her friends are non-existant. When she receives an email on her cell phone inviting her to be a part of an interactive story, she jumps at the chance to belong - even though the message came from someone she does not know.
Two other junior high girls receive similar emails on their phones: Mayumi, who lives in the shadow of her intelligent and athletic best friend, and Mai, who would rather go clubbing (for the music, not necessarily the scene) than deal with the high expectations of diplomat family.
They develop a story about a young girl, her tutor, her stalker, and a detective. Each girl writes for a certain character and posts their chapters at the website. The mysterious Yukari, the girl who started it all, writes the role of the stalker. As the story's suspense escalates, life begins to imitate art. Suddenly, Sawako goes missing in both stories, leaving the other girls to wonder what happened to her - and if it will happen to them next.
Chain Mail: Addicted to You by Hiroshi Ishizaki is part of Pop Fiction, a new teen fiction imprint from TokyoPop. The book embraces the story-within-a-story format from the very beginning, and keeps raising the stakes until the vey end. Cell phones are ever-present, making this cautionary tale ultra-contemporary. While racing through the book to find out who done it, American readers will subconsciously learn about Japanese culture and schooling.
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Other chain letters to pass along:
The Chain Letter by Julie Schumacher - G - After throwing away a chain letter, a middle school girl is plagued with bad luck. Her best friend is incredibly superstitious, and the girls start to think about what really causes things to happen. A good, solid middle school story. Schumacher also wrote Grass Angel, which I enjoyed, and The Book of One Hundred Truths, which finally came in for me at the library today.
The Baby-Sitters Club: Chain Letter by Ann M. Martin - G - The baby-sitters exchange correspondence as they all go here, there, and everywhere on summer vacation - except for Kristy, who is stuck in Stoneybrook, recovering from an appendectomy. This concept book has actual letters and cards to open and read, as well as a bookmark, a friendship bracelet, and - my favorite - a strip of black-and-white pictures from a photo booth.
Baby-Sitters Little Sister #101: Karen's Chain Letter - G - Little Sister is a spinoff of The Baby-Sitters Club, but I did not read that series.
Chain Letter by Christopher Pike - PG-13 - Christopher Pike was a big name in teen horror in the '80s and '90s. (Related booklist coming soon!) After a group of friends cover up a crime, they receive letters signed by The Caretaker, someone who knows what they did* and threatening to reveal their secret unless they do what The Caretaker tells them to do.
Chain Letter was published in 1986. The Chain Letter 2: Ancient Evil came out six years later, in 1992. I read many of Pike's books and liked very few, but that's something I'll address in the aforementioned booklist. In my humble opinion, I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan (1973) is far, far better than Chain Letter by Christopher Pike.
While we're on the subject, please note that IKWYDLS book and the IKWYDLS film are vastly different. Go read the original book, then watch the 1988 television version of the movie I Saw What You Did.