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.
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?