Amidst the relative boom of horror writing that became a craze in the early 1990s came an unknown author in Christopher Pike. Arguably the second most famous name in YA Horror at the time; behind the continuing dominance of R.L. Stine came a man who utilized a pseudonym as his author’s byline: real name being Kevin Christopher McFadden.
Rise in the late 1980’s
Pike, out of Santa Barbara, California started making headway into the Young Adult field in the mid 1980’s with works such as Slumber Party in 1985 and The Tachyon Web in 1986. One interesting background tidbit is that he wrote Cheerleaders #2, the second book in a series started by fellow YA writer Caroline B. Cooney who’d go on to be famous for The Face on the Milk Carton and its series of books. Unlike later anthology series such as R.C. Welch’s Scary Stories For Sleepovers in 1991 that leaned more on classic international folk tales, Pike followed a similar path to horror maestro R.L. Stine in creating trilogies and series.
His first major two book collection was called Chain Letter started in 1986 with the first book’s release. The story centered around Alison and her friends, whom all received a letter signed, “Your Caretaker,” about a past crime committed in a desert six years prior. The plot was similar in some ways to Lois Duncan’s 1973 novel I Know What You Did Last Summer later made into a Hollywood movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. The second novel, The Ancient Evil: Chain Letter 2 was released in 1992 with a similar plot to the first novel.
A lot of what really helped Pike (and other authors in the YA genre) stand out were the cover designs of the time period. Many of the authors I got into were initially due to seeing the cover artwork and thinking they looked like something off a horror movie poster. Chain Letter 2 is a perfect example.
Credit to http://www.goodreads.com
His Final Friends series was his first real notable series released in consecutive years ranging from 1988-1989. One of the standout factors of this series was that it was more of a murder mystery with no supernatural elements as opposed to most of his other written books. Arguably more impressively, both the second and third books, titled Final Friends 2 & Final Friends 3 were both released in 1989, then a rarity for Pike to do.
Credit to http://blog.jayceedelorenzo.com
Remember Me Series
Arguably his second most popular series written, the Remember Me series centered around Shari Cooper and her best friend Jo where Shari and Jo play with a Ouija board to contact Peter (a friend of Jo’s whom had died). Shari soon finds herself murdered later at that party and begins a quest to try and figure out what really is going on and how it all ties into her death. The latter two books in the series continue Shari’s journey (including her taking over another person’s body!) but get deeper into more of the supernatural realm and away from the mystery aspect.
As with most of his works recently, they have been starting to be re-released with new (fairly blah in my opinion) covers but it’s still neat to see his name out there amongst the modern generation of teens and readers.
Credit to http://www.reelswellblog.com
The Last Vampire Series
I absolutely adore this series and literally waited for release days when the series was being written and coming out at the time. As a matter of fact, I still own the series in their original covers (with Book 3 being my personal favorite). The series largely revolves around Alisa Perne, aka Sita, having been born in India in 3000 B.C. The background includes a Priest calling forth a yakshini (demon) that possesses a child in a mother’s womb whom gets christened with the name Yaksha. Yaksha would turn Sita into a vampire with Krishna being called to stop the attacks. Krishna fought Yaksha and pardoned him and also pardoned Sita under the condition that she never make another vampire. In the modern day setting, Alisa attends a high school and befriends Seymour, whom she tells her entire story to (partly because he is dying) and later falls for a man named Ray.
The series is great fun largely due to the characterization of Alisa/Sita and her relationships throughout the ensuing books in the series. The mythology use is very… touch and go but works enough in painting a sourced background for Alisa if you try not to go into the details and realism of it all. The series of books originally ended in 1996 with The Last Vampire 6: Creatures of Forever to mostly high praise. Recently, three more books have been written with middling results and opinions: The Last Vampire 7: Eternal Dawn (2010), The Last Vampire 8: The Shadow of Death (2011), and The Last Vampire 9: The Sacred Veil (2013).
The series was recently re-collected in omnibus’ under the Thirst title (Thirst 1 collecting the first three books, Thirst 2 collecting the latter three books). Rumors of a film version of the series have recently been picking up steam as recently as September of 2013.
Credit to http://bookloversemporium.com
Christopher Pike finally jumped into the common role of Young Adult series by creating Spooksville in 1995 which continued for 24 books through 1998. The series, much like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series, centered around a bizarre hometown that seemed to attract the supernatural while tending to tie together as a (rare) non-standalone series closer to the Animorphs Series than say Goosebumps.
The series was recently turned into a television series on The Hub Network, joining shows such as re-airings of Goosebumps and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and holds up surprisingly well considering the concept.
Credit to http://www.goodreads.com
That was a fun trip down memory lane and Christopher Pike is a mainstay of any Generation Y reader growing up from 1987 – 1998. As somebody who has gotten older, it is a welcome sight to see that his books have been re-released for the current generation to enjoy as well.
Also keep an eye out on Matthew Reine’s upcoming ode to R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps Series!
Credit to http://christopherpikefanclub.com for feature image