Paying Tribute to Christopher Pike

October is one of my FAVORITE months. The weather starts to cool, but we don’t usually get snow, the shorter daylight hours become impossible to ignore…it’s all about transition. And then there’s HALLOWEEN.

Every year, S and I watch a marathon of scary/thriller/horror movies from October 1st to 31st in celebration of the season, and this year will be no exception. Last year I blogged movie reviews, and I might this year too…but when I started to think about great blog topics for this month Of All Months, I wanted to do something different. I tried to think of what DEFINED my love of Thrills and Chills…and Christopher Pike jumped out at me!

…and then I screamed! ;)

For those who may be ~unfamiliar~ with The Great Mr. Pike, he was known as the Stephen King of Young Adult Fiction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is also famous for being completely mysterious – no one knows much about him personally, and good luck trying to find out (his name is a pseudonym taken from Star Trek - FTW!). It’s part of his ~mystique~.  He was a MASTER of teen thrillers and science fiction, always pushing the envelope. I devoured these books in middle and high school, always checking the stores to see if a new one had come out. Recently, I reread some of them (I still have ALL my original copies), and I’m so impressed that not a single one seems formulaic or trendy, even now. Many of them deal with paranormal phenomena, but often times, the scariest things in them are simply human beings.

My absolute all-time favorite Pike book is Master of Murder. Observe the completely amazing 1992 cover art (it was redone later, but to me this is the only cover): MasterofMurder

The book is about an eighteen-year-old guy named Marvin who is a bestselling author of teenage fiction, but NO ONE KNOWS IT except his sister and his agent. Marvin needs to keep his identity secret, but he starts to realize that the stories he’s been writing – murder mysteries - are actually true. And then he receives a fan letter that reads: “I know who you are.”

People have speculated that MASTER OF MURDER is semi-autobiographical for Mr. Pike. The first time I read it, I became convinced that he WAS a teenaged novelist, and that if I met him, he might realize that I loved writing too and go out with me!! I no longer think this is true…okay, the part about him being a teen novelist, ;) though I’d still LOVE to meet the mysterious Christopher Pike.

Does this cover not SCREAM amazing to you? The 90s computer! The dead girl! The chilling font! The guy tapping away at his novel! <3

 

One of the more disturbing Pike books I’ve read  is Whisper of DeathWhisperofDeathThis one definitely has a supernatural element to it, though it is hard to define – which is one of the BEST and scariest things about Pike – how uncomfortable he makes you feel. You don’t understand the threat, and that is SO terrifying. !!! Anyway, those two terrified-looking kids are Roxanne and Pepper. That hooded death-figure on the road may or may not be Betty Sue, a dead girl with a GRUDGE.

Roxanne is pregnant, so she and Pepper leave town to try and solve their problems (I LOVE how vague the back cover copy is about this). When they get back, however, the town is deserted except for three other kids Betty Sue wants dead.  

Christopher Pike is a magnificent storyteller, and one of his great talents is weaving stories into stories. Betty Sue left stories behind that she’d written about each of the kids – telling how they died, before it happens – and of course things unfold exactly how she wrote them! One of the greatest things about Whisper of Death is the ambiguous ending. I still couldn’t tell you exactly what happened, but it wasn’t happy for anyone – except maybe Betty Sue, who we find out, was also pregnant when she died. I’ve read this book several times, and it still bothers me. Which is why Mr. Pike is a master of the craft.

 Midnight Club

The Midnight Club has stuck in my mind for fifteen years. I reread it recently, and cried all over again. Yes – I CRIED over a Pike book. That’s what a gifted author he is.  The Midnight Club is about a group of teens in a hospice (I KNOW – depressing). But Pike makes you realize teens in a hospice are still TEENS, and they act like them. A group of five meets at midnight to tell stories (more stories within story – FTW!), but as each of them gets sicker, they start to speculate about ~the after life~ and make a pact that the first of them to die will try to make contact–from beyond the grave. Eeee! I LOVE this book. It feels so well-researched, so compassionate…and so hopeful, despite the theme.

I guess a post about Christopher Pike wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Remember Me. Except that I am sooo disappointed I couldn’t find a bigger picture of the cover than this.  You can hardly see the ~ghostly hand~ on the balcony railing, not to mention poor Shari’s artistically-arranged body on the ground – without a trace of blood in her gorgeous blonde hair. RememberMeRemember Me is about Shari Cooper, a murdered girl whose ghost sticks around trying to find out who pushed her from that balcony at a party. The story is compelling, with lots of interesting familial backstory and baby-swapping, but the ending totally makes the whole book. I might as well ruin it, it’s so…NOT anything I ever expected. Shari’s (not dead) brother is diabetic, and his crazed girlfriend-slash-actual-sister tries to kill him by using his own syringe to inject an air bubble into his veins. Shari’s ghost slips INSIDE her brother’s veins to stop the air-bubble from giving him a heart attack. I mean – WHO would have thought of that? CHRISTOPHER PIKE.

There are TOO MANY excellent Pike books for one blog entry! However, I found out while writing this that The Last Vampire series is being re-released. Which isn’t a huge surprise considering the YA market right now…but it isn’t one of my favorites. I think one of the most impressive things about Christopher Pike is that he could write fantastic stand-alone thrillers. Remember Me became a series, so did The Last Vampire, Final Friends, Chain Letter, etc… and I’m not saying I didn’t buy every single one and enjoy them. But I remember and hold dear the single, sweet, intense books like Road to Nowhere, Spellbound, The Eternal Enemy, The Immortal, Die Softly, Last Act, and who can forget the very FIRST book: Slumber Party.

So on the first day of October, the spookiest month, a month of transition, I pay humble tribute to Christopher Pike. For keeping me up reading at all hours as a teen, for making me afraid to turn out the lights, for blowing my mind with compelling tales, and for instilling an everlasting love of YA that continues to shape me as a writer.  ~*~

Pike

19 thoughts on “Paying Tribute to Christopher Pike

  1. I agree with every word you’ve said here. God, I remember RUSHING to go to the bookstore once I knew his new book was out. And MASTER OF MURDER? Omg, my personal favorite. Obviously.

    ROAD TO NOWHERE, too. Oh, so good!

  2. I love Christopher Pike! It always rankles me when people talk about how he hasn’t aged well (I mean, his fiction). I get all HDU because I am sorry, those books are TIMELESS MASTERPIECES. Also he is a perfect blog topic for October. I LOVE this blog entry!!! I loved reading Master of Murder and trying to figure out when he was talking about himself. Have you seen the dedication in The Wicked Heart (I think it was or The Wicked Mind?). It was to himself on those lonely nights or something and I was like ~*creepy awesome*~ I approve of Last Act being up there. ;)

    WHISPER OF DEATH SCARED ME SO BAD. I was like, “O_O” when I finished it. I still am O_O about it. I loved loved loved Remember Me but I kind of like to pretend the next two books in the series didn’t happen. It just felt so complete to me as is and the other installments just couldn’t match my love for that book. Sigh. But one thing is for sure. Christopher Pike = <3

    YOUR BOOKSHELF IS A THING OF BEAUTY.

    1. Eeeee! BB, you’re RIGHT! The dedication in THE WICKED HEART says: “For myself . This dark story written during those dark nights.” <3

      I feel the same about Remember Me! :( I am SO glad others still feel the way I do about Pike, though. Some of his stuff might be dated, but he will always have a place in my heart. ~*~

  3. I have never read Christopher Pike, in fact till now I had never heard of him. However I am intrigued! I am going off to search AbeBooks to see if I can find any copies of the books you mentioned!

    *Sigh* I do miss the teen cover art from the 80′s. Good times, good times.

  4. These books HAD to be read in ONE NIGHT b/c I couldn’t sleep until I reached the end… and often not then.

    There were many parental interventions and even discussion about banning me from reading them – not because they objected to the content, mind you, but because they objected to the resulting NoSleep.

    I think you should celebrate October by reading some C. Pike aloud to S.

  5. Tye – did they DEPRIVE you of Pike down under?? That is tragedy! Let me know if you can find any of them, and what you think!

    Tiffany – They TOTALLY had to be read in one night! I might just have to read one or two again NOW… <3 October.

  6. I loved his books as well….I’m really trying hard to remember the title of my favorite…I remember it had a snow scene or snow man on it. I tried googling but can’t seem to find it. I think it was a bout a girl left alone for the weekend at her parents house.

    1. Could it have been SLUMBER PARTY? That’s actually his first book and it’s about a group of teens snowed in on a ski weekend, and you know, BAD THINGS HAPPEN. ;) The cover of mine is a house covered in snow with a light on in one window…

  7. I feel for Ms. Tiffany Schmidt. I loved Christopher Pike’s writing style and imagination. The only books of his I was ever able to gain access to were Master of Murder and the Final Friends trilogy. My parents were deeply religious, and the only books I ever read were ones that other kids brought to school, or that I could sneak into the house without them finding them. I hope to buy up all his wonderful, amazing books as soon as I have the money!

    *sobs!*

    If they are half as good as Master of Murder and Final Friends, then I will be in for a super-awesome treat! Your descriptions send chills up my spine. I thought I was the only one who read stuff like this when I was a teen. Reading at my high school was considered ‘un-cool’, so you can imagine how a popular a bookworm like me was.

    Hooray for Emily Hainsworth!

    P.S. Christopher Pike’s real name is actually Kevin McFadden.

    1. Hi Lee!

      If you can, check your library for Christopher Pike books! Some of them are out of print, but our library has a GREAT selection of them, including the one or two I still don’t own myself. :)

      And I do know C. Pike’s real name…I just figured since he’s never come out and introduced himself as Kevin McFadden, I’ll honor the pseudonym. ;)

      Darn your high school! READING IS COOL. Welcome to the in-crowd! Happy Reading!

  8. Yeah. I just found out his real name a few years ago, and was feeling smug. I figured you knew what it was, though.

    *bows quasi-humbly* Forgive my insolence!

    It never occured to me to check the library. I live in such a conservative region, and a lot of books are unofficially ‘banned’ here. You just don’t find them on the shelves, and your best bet is ordering them online with all the lovely shipping and handling fees.

    (You should have seen things when the Harry Potter franchise first caught on!)

    And yes, reading is indeed very cool. I spend more of my time writing now than I do reading, but there are still several titles that catch my eye. I started writing again because there were so many genres that weren’t appreciated, to me. And the ones that were there felt kind of lackluster. So I wrote my own. A funny thing about those ‘in-crowd’ kids at my high school, though, is that some of them were actually well-read. They kept themselves in the library closet. Must have been awfully damp and musty in there!

  9. I was writing a post about authors & books that had affected me, so of course I starting Googling Christopher Pike, and came upon this post. Fantastic! I agree so very much about his books, they’re amazing and they shaped my imagination at just the right time. Great post! Thanks.

    1. Hey Jen! Glad you liked the post. :) CP totally shaped me too…for good or ill! LOL Did you hear he’s coming out with a new YA??

  10. I’m doing a report over Christopher Pike for my English class. One of the main topics we are supposed to write about is the author’s style of writing. I’ve read several different things over him and no one has given his style.help?

    1. Mavy – I’d love to be of help, though I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for. The GENRE Christopher Pike wrote in was/is young adult horror. Writing STYLE is something different, however. I guess you could call his commercial? It’s a tricky thing to pin down. Maybe ask your teacher to clarify what they mean by “style” and give some examples. You should be able to figure it out once you have a better idea what they’re looking for. Good luck!

  11. Master of Murder is one of the few books I haven’t read. I can’t seem to get my hands on a copy and I’m dying to read it. I think I spent the better part of last years scavenging the four corners of all the used book stores in my area in search of retro Pike books. They are so hard to find!

    Like you, I’ve also envisioned him as a teenage writer. He’d look like Andrew Garfield, geeky but adorably cute. The adult C. Pike would look like Harrison Ford circa nerdy Professor Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    OMG. You’ll never believe this: I’ve blogged about my not-so-secret crush/writer worship of Christopher Pike that he actually commented on my blog! I’ve made contact!

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