To be honest, I ordered a copy of this 1993 YA novel from Half-Price Books strictly because of the cover. I mean, there were several old Christopher Pike books to chose from but that image of the young woman driving her car with the skeleton sitting beside her just leaped out at me. I think a lot of it had to do with the fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. I’ve got a St. Patrick medal hanging from my mirror but if I wasn’t half-Irish and if I hadn’t been raised Catholic, I definitely would have the dice….
Well, actually, I probably wouldn’t have anything hanging from my mirror. Seriously, those big dice look like they’re going to get in the way. I mean, she’s already driving in the rain and she’s got a skeleton sitting next to her. Does she need the distraction of giant dice? No wonder death is coming along the ride….
Anyway, the book itself is about an 18 year-old named Teresa. Teresa is an aspiring songwriter and singer. She just broke up with her boyfriend Bill. The book takes place on the night that she was planning to lose her virginity to Bill but now that she’s single and miserable, she figures that she might as well just drive to the Bay area. Teresa also decides to pick up two hitchhikers because apparently, she’s never read a scary book or seen a horror movie before.
The hitchhikers are named — look, I’m not joking — Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn. Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn are also heading to the Bay and they have all sorts of interesting stories to tell about yet another couple, John and Candy. Now, to be honest, I wouldn’t pick up hitchhikers in the first place. I don’t care how lonely I am. I don’t care how much its raining. I don’t care how late at night it is. I’m not picking you if you’re standing on the side of the road. But even if I did pick up a pair of hitchhikers, I would probably kick them out of the car as soon as they started telling me a story about a doomed couple who are obviously the hitchhikers in a past life. Somehow, Teresa doesn’t immediately catch onto the fact that Freedom Jack and Poppy Fresh are actually John and Candy despite the fact that it’s incredibly obvious. (John = Jack. Candy = Poppy Corn. I mean, come on….) Then again, Teresa doesn’t seem to be the smart in general.
Anyway, Teresa’s journey with the two hitchhikers leads to her stopping off at both a castle and a church and losing her virginity. The journey continues without anywhere seeming to get anywhere because they’re on a road to nowhere and this is one of those Christopher Pike books where nothing is what it actually seems to be. There’s a lot of twists but they’re all somewhat predictable twists. If you’ve read any of Christopher Pike’s other books, you’ll be able to guess what’s going on in The Road to Nowhere. In the end, everyone has come to peace with their past and chosen their future. While the stories of Teresa and Bill and John and Candy contain moments of deep darkness, Road to Nowhere , especially when compared to Pike books like The Immortal and Die Softly, is actually rather optimistic about the ability of people to move on and find some sort of peace.
Finally, let’s give the book some credit for coming up with names like Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn. That, in itself, is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Still, I wish the cover had more accurately reflected the content of the book.