The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike

Published by Hachette

ORIGINALLY published in 1994, Christopher Pike’s talent for chilling and impactful fiction will be brought to life for a new generation of teenagers with a Netflix series based on his novel The Midnight Club arriving this October.

This somewhat short novel of just over 200 pages has a way of leaving an impression just as great as that of something much longer.

Pike handles within this story two topics that have been examined for a long time, but that create an intense reaction when combined – youth and death.

Set in a hospice for terminally ill teenagers the characters are consumed in their every moment and every word by the knowledge they will not live much longer, that they will never experience adulthood and they exist in this space together both emotionally and physically. Yet they find hope.

Where there is no hope for the future there is a dazzling, ever-growing willingness to embrace the present that provides a light through the darkness of the final days and weeks of these young people. Each distinct character despite taking their own unique, however positive or cynical, approach to their fate is united through the midnight club.

Ilonka, the main character who is in a state between denial and hope, always looking for the next scan or natural remedy, always keeping her wig in place, meets every night at midnight with four others to tell stories. These are often scary.

While these stories exchanged by Ilonka, Spencer, Anya, Keven and Sandra are entertaining and thrilling on their own they become the way they communicate the huge feelings and issues they all face.

Within this group there is a contrast between the discussions one expects in teenagers – jokingly making fun of each other, aching for unconcealed love, sneaking glasses of wine and wondering about the possibilities of life – and the knowledge none of it will last.

In one particularly remarkable meeting of the midnight club the five of them discuss the possibility of what comes after life. For them it is an issue that looms.

It is upon consideration of this that they make their greatest promise to each other, one that will bind them in ways they cannot yet understand.

The deal is simple, that the first one of them to die will attempt to contact the others in whatever way possible, leave a sign or a message to indicate what is beyond the border each of them are standing on the edge of. In many ways The Midnight Club is a horror, and those elements are certainly done well with the atmosphere of eerie anticipation that runs through every shaky breath these characters take.

In other ways this is a drama about teenagers, about their friendships with each other, about first love and about understanding the beauty and pain of being young in ways that could not be so eloquently displayed without their circumstances