Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Synopsis: Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With some help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you may have guessed that I absolutely LOVE Horror. Books, tv shows, movies… As long as it’s good, count me in! One of my biggest disappointments is that you don’t see a lot of authors writing horror for YAs. There are writers like Laurie Stolartz and Danielle Vega who regularly turn out some truly stellar novels, but YA Horror hasn’t yet taken off like other genres such as fantasy and dystopian fiction. After finishing My Best Friend’s Exorcism, I’m adding Grady Hendrix to my list of favorite authors in this genre. I’m going to be honest and say that some readers may be a little disappointed because most of the action takes place in the second part of the book, but for me it’s all about the anticipation. You know–that mounting sense of dread where you know bad things are gonna happen, it’s just a matter of when? The first half of the book primarily focuses on the close friendship between Abby and Gretchen. After a sleepover with two other friends turns into a terrifying night, Gretchen disappears for several hours. It’s not long after she’s found by her desperate friends that Gretchen starts exhibiting extremely odd behavior, the most heartbreaking of which is her turning on Abby. And from there things slowly get worse. While the suspense is building, Hendrix takes you back to high school life in the 1980s complete with all sorts of cultural references. I’ve had the Go-Go’s We Got the Beat stuck in my head since I finished the book a few days ago. Thankfully they were my favorite band when I was in high school so I’m okay with that. Reading this was like a trip down memory lane. Grady Hendrix not only captures the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of high school life, he is scarily good at getting into the minds of teen girls. So good that I found myself forgetting that this story is written by a guy. One weakness I found concerns the adult characters in the book. With only one exception they’re overwhelmingly portrayed as either weak and ineffectual, or bullying and abusive. After awhile this really got on my nerves but not enough to to spoil my overall enjoyment of the story. I mentioned that most of the horror-based action takes place in the second half of the book. Well, a word of warning. There are some extremely graphic passages which even had me squirming, and I read my first Stephen King book when I was 13. I don’t want to include any spoilers but for those of you who are animal lovers like me, well… Thankfully this scene is brief and I skimmed over it. There was also a scene with involving tapeworms which actually gave me a nightmare. That’s what I get for staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish this. And finally, there’s the ending which in my opinion is one of the best conclusions to a story that I’ve read in a very long time. It’s a beautiful and poignant finale that had me reaching for a tissue. At it’s heart My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a coming-of-age story about the power of friendship. Think Mean Girls with a dash of the Exorcism thrown in. It’s one of the best YA horror novels I’ve read and I’ll definitely be checking out Mr. Hendrix’s future works.