Book Review: Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
A furious, queer debut novel about embracing the monster within and unleashing its power against your oppressors. Perfect for fans of Gideon the Ninth and Annihilation.
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.
But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.
Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.
This was some read! I usually spend my summer reading a ton of books written for adults, and most of that relatively light fare. But I kicked my summer off with reading this, a dark, weird (I only ever use that word in a positive way!), apocalyptic, horror book. As someone who has to watch anything scary or gory through her fingers (or not at all) and who finds body horror things really unsettling, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stick with it (and there are many trigger warnings included at the front of this book). But the writing is fantastic, the story is so unusual, and the characters, especially the trans main character, Benji, demand to have their story heard. I can’t even adequately summarize the twisty, terrifying story of manipulation, truth, action, protection, vengeance, and chaos. The things that you need to know are that this a story of power, of hope, and of guts (and I mean that in more ways than one). It’s a story about controlling the monster inside you, of letting go of what you thought you knew or believed, of resilience. It’s about rot (again, many meanings) and ruin and humanity and inhumanity. It’s about a virus, about Christianity, belief, secrets, devastation, fascism, transformation, revolution, salvation, and about queer kids fighting to survive. It’s about finding a home and being alive. It’s about rage. It’s about love. And it’s the best book about a trans six-winged Seraph bioweapon surviving an apocalyptic hellscape that you’ll read this summer!
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 06/07/2022
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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