Thursday, October 9, 2008

Satanic Incest Dinosaurs, or: How I Spent My Childhood

You know, we can spend all day talking about "recaps" versus "reviews," and adults reading YA lit, and nostalgia, and triviablogging, and whether those are good things or just a sign of how our generation has infantilized itself. OR - and this is the preferred option, here - we can just celebrate the fact that I was not making any of this up! 

I loved Christopher Pike's books when I was a pre-teen. I passed them around to all the girls that I knew, and they loved them, too. My mother was horrified. I was such a strong reader! Why was I wasting my intelligence? Were these books possibly Satanic? (Mom loves church. So much, Mom loves church. I'm actually thinking of handing out a brief pamphlet to everyone in my life to explain how I came to be, and it will read "CHURCH MOM + BOOZE DAD = THIS." The rest of it will just be pictures of naughty Catholic schoolgirls.) I didn't care. They were about sex, and death, and nobody was going to tell me anything about these subjects, so I had to find what I could.  

Most of my Christopher Pike memories concern reading in the backseat of a hot car, which paused periodically so that my brother could throw up (the boy had a legendarily bad relationship with motor transport; on long drives, we actually resorted to doping him until he fell asleep, so that he wouldn't leave a trail of spew everywhere we went). Something about the heat and the motion and the smell of puke made all of these memories feel hazy and indistinct, like fever dreams, and I could not ever be sure that I was remembering the books correctly. So it is actually reassuring, in many ways, to click through to a recap of Scavenger Hunt and read this: 

Cessy and Davey are actually part of an ancient race of dinosaurs that developed intelligence and found a way to gain immortality after surviving the dinosaur holocaust.

Yes! They were! Dinosaurs who fed on human sacrifice! They also re-animated a dude's dead best friend and disguised him as his teacher for purposes which remain unclear! They were also twins, and they made out! WITH EACH OTHER!!!!! God, I'm so glad I didn't just come up with this. 

There's actually a lot of incest in the Pike books, which I had mercifully forgotten. Also, lots of New Age stuff about ancient astronauts and interdimensional wisdom-bringing gurus (who are inevitably Indian, despite being interdimensional) and walk-ins. I was clicking around last night, and apparently it's kind of a big deal that no-one has ever seen a photo of Christopher Pike or learned anything about him, but I honestly think that, if he exists, he's one of those dudes who wears a quartz crystal around his neck and believes himself to be an alien. Which, if so, his higher wisdom would seem to be kind of incompatible with all the DIRTY TEEN SEX in his novels! 

Did you know that there is a Pike book (Die Softly) in which two cheerleaders have repeated threesomes with a quarterback and then kill him by forcing him to take cocaine? They tie him to a tree and shove it up his nose, I think! They are both super popular at school because they sell cocaine laced cookies at the bake sales. I blame this book for my long-held belief that (a) it was possible to take cocaine in cookie form, and (b) this was the only safe way to do it, because if you put it up your nose, you would instantly die. 

Anyway, I am thrilled to note that Like Pike will soon be covering Whisper of Death, which was the first Pike book I read, and is still in many ways my favorite. In Whisper of Death, a girl fools around with her boyfriend and quickly finds herself in need of a safe and legal abortion, but when she and her dude return from the clinic, they find that their pleasant bedroom community has been transformed into an eerie ghost town, from which there is no escape, and in which they (and the handful of randomly selected teenagers which comprise the town's entire population) have all been sentenced to die grisly coincidental deaths which mirror some unpopular chick's book of extremely violent fairy tales. This is because the unpopular chick died last year, because no-one liked her, and also she was reincarnated in the form of Abortion Chick's untimely fetus. I mean, damn, I sympathize, but don't you think people would have liked her better had she not been plotting to cut them in half via witchcraft? Anyway, the only way for the girl to save her friends is to travel back in time and die mid-abort. Because I guess having the witchcraft child wasn't an option. 

It occurs to me now that Whisper of Death was the first thing that got me and my friends talking about abortion. Yes, it was gory (the goriest Pike book I can remember, aside from Monster, in which space bacteria infested people's brains and made them into cannibals) but the thing that stuck with us was the pregnancy. It also occurs to me that we learned about abortion from a book which told us actually having one would sentence you to a deadly netherworld, but, you know. Sex ed is rarely perfect. 

1 comment:

  1. I know you wrote this a while ago, but I had to tell you that I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard!!! If my mother knew the sex in those books, well, my mother was a hippie and would have read them herself! Anyway - I don't remember the cocaine cookies, but Pepper did teach me about abortions, and that girls could be named after table seasonings. Monster gave me nightmares with all the gore - now I'm going to be a trauma nurse. Go figure. I blame that one for my obsession with sex in a pool, even if it was with a space bacteria infested cannibal.