Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book: The Midnight Club

Apparently the figure on the front of this cover is the Grim Weeper. That's exactly what this story was. Grim, and a weeper.

This is my first Christopher Pike novel. When I first heard about him, just a few months ago, I wondered how I had missed him way back when. And then I realized, oh. I'm old. It was published in 1994. I was in college by then. That's how I missed it.

Anyway, no matter. It was still a nice little book. In a morbid, Six Months To Live kind of way. Five teens are in a hospice -- no treatment is offered, because this is where young people come to live their last days. The teens meet every night at midnight to tell stories and strengthen their short-lived bonds. Or are they short-lived? That's what they want to know... is there life after death? They make a pact that the first of them to die would come back and give them some sign that they are still there, that life goes on after death.

Every night the stories get better and better... until one of them dies. And then, well, they all start to die. Frankly, it was a little depressing.

The main girl, Ilonka, tells stories that she thinks are from her past lives. They seem to link her to another patient at the hospice, Kevin. Kevin seems to have an otherworldy knowledge of her past lives, and of the others' secrets. What is the bond between them? And will they have time to acknowledge it before time runs out?

If I were 14 and reading this, I would have loved it and immediately had to read it again. I liked grim stories like this a lot. It was a fairly good little book (it took about an hour to read) but now, 20 years past the ideal age to read it, I actually feel a little disturbed by it. Which goes back to my theory about Young Adult novels actually being somewhat more directly disturbing/scary than 'adult' novels. It wasn't so much the stories that the kids told -- I sort breezed through those, being much more interested in their relationships -- it was how they all died in the end.

There was no happy ending (unless you believe in reincarnation, which the book frankly proposes). They all died painful deaths. That's it, folks. They got their last little hurrahs (sad, pitiful, and painful) and then they died.

I have felt vaguely disturbed by this all day.

Apparently this is the only Christopher Pike novel that doesn't have a supernatural edge to it. I have two others to read, so I will give him one more try. But it left me feeling kind of weird. I suppose that was what I was after, right? Mission accomplished.

In other book news, I made the mistake of checking out two very large, very tempting books from the library on Friday. The Witching Hour, my first Anne Rice novel, read when I was 17, and The Terror, which I keep reading about and which sounds very good. They are both monster tomes, well over 700 pages each. I have started The Witching Hour and my, oh my. I had forgotten that this is totally her best book, in my opinion. Within the first 20 pages I had completely forgotten where I was in real life, completely immersed in creepy New Orleans. I had also forgotten that part of the book is set in San Francisco, which is fun because now I can place all the sites in my mind.

Anyway. I am going to have to read like mad to get all these done by the end of October. I may have to spill over into November, but then I'll be ready for a change of topic. I think maybe some Dickens, in time for the holidays. A few cozy classics, perhaps.

But first, the MayFair Witches. And the terror on the ice. And maybe some more teen screams. Don't you love October?


Nymeth said...

I think I'd have been disturbed too.

And ooooh, you're making me want to read The Witching Hour again too. And I keep hearing great things about The Terror and I really want to read it too. The size is a bit intimidating, but I'm not sure for how much longer I'll try to resist it.

Allison said...

I think I was the perfect age for Christopher Pike books, and I ate up just about every one I could when I was young. The first book of his I read was called Remember Me. I was 12 when The Midnight Club came out. I still remember reading it (probably a year later) and being kind of weirded out thinking about death and what the book suggested.