U is for (Books About) the Underworld #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

As some of you may have noticed, I like books about dark topics. What can I say? Horror has always kind of been my thing, and I like books about death.

Graveminder, by Melissa Marr (horror/ romance): Rebekka’s adopted grandmother, Maylene always had odd rituals about the dead. When Maylene dies suddenly, Rebekka comes home and finds out that Maylene’s “odd rituals” were actually about keeping the dead in their graves. Rebekka must visit the underworld to find out what she has to do to make sure the dead stay dead. This was one of those odd books that I found by chance at a used book sale, and once I read it, I loved it. It has a unique and fun interpretation of the underworld.

What Dreams May Come, by Richard Matheson (horror/ romance): Although I enjoyed the movie (I pretty much love anything with Robin Williams), the book is very different. Chris is married to the love of his life, Ann. When he gets into a car accident and dies, he ascends to a place called “Summerland,” where everything is beautiful. Haunted by worries about Ann, he finds out that she committed suicide and is in a dark place of her own making. Propelled by his love for her, Chris braves hell to get to Ann so that she won’t have to be alone. This book is moving, beautiful, and terrifying, all at the same time. Matheson is one of my favorite horror authors because his stories are subtle and multilayered. If you liked the movie, read the book.

Remember Me, by Christopher Pike (YA horror): Since I first read this book as a kid, it’s been one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ve probably read it more than a dozen times. When Shari dies, she visits the scene of her death and learns that people think she jumped. She’s sure someone murdered her, and she follows the detective assigned to her case. Shari isn’t willing to move on until her murderer is captured. Considering the book is about murder, it’s a light and fun book.

The Face, by Dean Koontz (horror): Saying this book is about the underworld might be stretching the truth a bit, but I’m comfortable with it. It’s told from the point of view of Ethan, a former cop who’s now the bodyguard of a famous actor, Dunny, Ethan’s former best friend, career criminal, and dead man who just walked out of the morgue, Frick, the bodyguard’s son, and several others. Most of the characters are alive, but Dunny isn’t, though he’s still walking around. Why he’s still around isn’t clear until the exciting ending.

What are your favorite stories featuring the underworld?

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C is for Christopher Pike

There were several authors who wrote young adult thrillers when I was growing up, and I could probably write about any of them.  Christopher Pike was unique, I think, in that his books had more of a horror feel than some of the others.

His books were hit or miss for me, in that some were wonderful, and others were just meh.  Slumber Party was the first one I read, and it hooked me.  It was the first book I ever read with such a huge plot twist, and for the next several years, everything I wrote had a bad plot twist.  (I’m not saying that his plot twists were bad; I’m saying that my imitations were.)

I enjoyed his other books, but my favorite of his is Remember Me, about a girl who dies and has to solve her own murder.  This one also had a plot twist, but what I liked about it was the fact that the main character was dead.  I know that sounds kind of morbid, but most teenagers go through a phase where the grapple with the big questions on life and death, and this book was a semi-lighthearted way for me to think about it.

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The inclusion of a main character who was dead, no tricks or miracle rebirths, was creative and unusual in 1989, before the current cultural obsession with dead girls as main characters.  I still read this one every couple of years.

“Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive.”
― Christopher Pike, from Remember Me

Road to Nowhere actually inspired a short story I wrote.  My story was a cheap ripoff, but I think that imitation, in early days of writing, is a good thing.  It’s a way for young authors to practice writing and try out different things until they find their own style.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.  My ripoff story stuck with me, even though the original version was awful.  Some of the characters from that story took on a life of their own to become something much different than the original.

That’s the beauty of falling in love with a story.  Everyone who loves the story will take something different from it.  What I take with me, I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

Any other Christopher Pike fans out there?  Which was/ is your favorite?