The Midnight Club

The term “Emo” didn’t exist when I was in 7th grade, but I suspect I must have been a bit Emo because one of my favorite books at that time was about a group of teenagers dying of terminal cancer. No need to do a double take, you read that sentence right. This book was called The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike and despite the seemingly depressing subject matter, I read it multiple times.

It’s been years since I’ve last read it, but I can still remember the plot and some of the characters’ names. There’s a hospice located on a rocky cliff where a group of terminally ill teens meet at midnight to tell stories. They tell scary stories, stories of life, love, hope, friendship, and life after death. One night, they make a pact that the first one in the group to die will try to come back and tell them all what it’s like on the other side. For some strange reason, I remember the characters by what type of cancer they had. Isn’t that morbid?

I mention The Midnight Club now, not so much because I want to discuss the book, but more so because I’ve still got my mind on cover art.

The Midnight Club front cover and backside blurb is a perfect example of false marketing. Since the author is Christopher Pike, publishers marketed this book as a supernatural thriller about people coming back from the dead. In actuality, this whole “he who dies first must come back” catch is only a small part of the plot and when it does happen, it’s done in such a tasteful way that it leaves you feeling sad, not scared.

midnight-club.jpg

The cover is deceptive. Nowhere in the book does Death appear in front of the dying kids and teach them a lesson in what appears to be charades.

Looking back at all the Christopher Pike books I’ve read, I realized that Pike was deeper than you would expect from a YA horror/suspense fiction writer. There was always something more to his YA stories than your average teen scare-fest. He wrote about reincarnation, forgiveness, friendship, first-love, loyalty—oh, I’m getting nostalgic just thinking about it.

That being said, whatever happened to Christopher Pike anyways? I haven’t seen him publish a book in years and whenever I journey over to the YA section at Borders or Barnes and Nobles, I don’t see any of his old books in print anymore. Nowadays, the only place you can find Christopher Pike books are online or at the library. My library still has a copy of the first edition hardback of The Midnight Club and other early ’90’s hardback editions. Paperback copies are non-existent. The dated cover art probably discourages today’s teen readers from checking out the book; do they even know who Christopher Pike is anymore?

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6 thoughts on “The Midnight Club”

  1. I loooved Lurlene McDaniel books in middle school, which were all about teenagers with various terminal illnesses. We were living in England, and my dad had a business trip back to the States, so I gave him a long booklist for him to buy me some presents. When he got back, he was like, “Do we need to have a talk? Why are you obsesed with teens dying?” lol I had to explain that sometimes they didn’t die, and it was how they *lived* that was so much fun to read. I bet I would’ve loved this book if I had come across it!

  2. Eva:
    Exactly! Books about terminally ill teens are not about how they are dying, but how they are “living.” Finally someone who understands the appeal! When I was young and feeling sorry for myself, I turn to these stories and say, “look, you didn’t have it that bad. Ilonka from the Midnight Club only has a month to live and she’s making the most of it.”

  3. wow. can i just say this post brings back a blast from the past?? it’s like i’m 12 years old again, sitting in my fifth period, seventh grade language arts class. i was a HUGE C-Pike fan.. the other horror author was r.l. stine, and i started off liking his books, but then they became just dull. christopher pike’s books (most of them) were just so much darker and deeper. i COVETED his books, and i remember reading this one. The cover is what strikes the memory cord, and, strange as it is, the one part that i remember vividly is when the main character (i think) is dying, and she eats a piece of chocolate, and how she savors every aspect of the taste. i don’t know why i remember that. maybe the idea of never having chocolate again was just too mind-numbing for me.

    anyway – i feel like pike hit his stride in the early to mid 90s.. I loved the first three books of his Last Vampire series. I LOVED them and went around bemoaning how much i wanted to become a vampire… I also loved The Immortal and the book with the author who writes under the pen name (the name escapes me now).

    thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  4. I love him..I just read his book sequel Remember me and the things he describes are so real..like the “fuzzy” stuff Shari sees.

  5. I just read his book Falling, it isn’t brand new but it was good. Midnight Club, is my favorite by CP, wasn’t there reincarnation in the book? I’m going to see if my library has a copy so I can do a reread of the book.
    Remember Me is a great trilogy, the second book was my favorite.

  6. I remember deciding to read a story that someone tells in this book out loud to my little borther and sister, but being embarrassed when it had sexy bits in it I’d forgotten about. Something about leaving a man because a woman came home to find him in bed with another man. I remember reading aloud, “She came home to find him…” and then I stopped, and said, “gone.” I honestly don’t know where that youthful conservatism came from!! Anyway, I remember this book was sad, and that the cover was more misleading than any of his other books’ covers.

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