Hell Followed With Us Review + Book Tour

Hi everyone, I hope this week is treating you well so far! Today’s post is a really exciting one because I’m here with a review for one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy because I am a part of the TBR & Beyond Tours book tour! The book in question is, of course, Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White! This is a gory, gruesome, intelligent, and very queer book and I’m really excited to share my review with you today! As always, click on the banner below to read the other posts and let me know your thoughts on the book if you’ve read it too!

Title: Hell Followed With Us

Author: Andrew Joseph White

Pages: 416

Genre: Horror, LGBT+, Young Adult

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: Prepare to die. His kingdom is near.

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.

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.

Content Warning: parental death, graphic death, body horror, violence, religious abuse, discussions of genocide; instances of homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, and deadnaming

Hell Followed With Us is a really exciting debut novel that follows Benji who, at the start of the novel, is trying to escape from the evangelical ecofascist cult that wiped out billions of people and that he was raised in. In the midst of his escape (and untimely recapture) the group he is with is ambushed by a team of misfit queers that are fighting back against the cult. But Benji was infected by a biomedical weapon that the cult wants to use to reach their goals, so when he is taken in by the ragtag group of LGBT kids, Benji promises to use his powers to help them, but it is slowly taking over his body and turning him into a monster day by day. What’s more, Nick, the leader of the group, has his own secrets that are coming to a head.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I’m very happy to say that it didn’t disappoint! Everything from the characters to the worldbuilding, to the representation and the horror was done so, so well, and in a debut no less!

The book takes place in an almost dystopian future – the majority of the human race has been wiped out by a virus and the right-wing evangelists are in charge. Sound familiar? So much about this was done well. You can really tell that the author leaned into the COVID-19 pandemic while writing this, as so much of the world Benji lives in reflected our own. The discussions on ecofascism and eugenics that arose during the pandemic – and which are still ongoing – and the fears surrounding those debates were explored throughout the story, but in a way that was easy to understand, not overwhelming, and that didn’t distract from the rest of the plot. And the fact that there were still people not wearing their masks right was all too real!

The rise of the evangelical right wing and all the biblical references were so striking to me, as someone who is not familiar with the Bible, except for maybe a few quotes that I’ve heard every now and then. It was so interesting seeing Benji dealing with his faith throughout the book; seeing his internal struggle as he grappled with the abusive side of the cult he was raised in and the use of the Bible as a tool to misgender him and control others, but also the strange feeling of comfort that he took in the familiarity of its passages and teachings. I think the author did a really great job of showing what it’s like to grow up in a religion and feel both love and discomfort from it and its followers.

Aside from that, I found the whole take on angels to be so exciting and definitely one of the highlights of the book. The twist on biblically accurate angels with regards to a dystopian setting, a biomedical weapon and almost a zombie-like state was so interesting to see and definitely made this book one of the most unique things I have ever read!

Of course, I can’t discuss how much I enjoyed this book without going into the representation. Benji is a gay trans boy and Nick a cis gay boy – and aside from the pair of them, so much of the cast of side characters are also queer, disabled, and people of colour and it was so, so wonderful! But what I really loved, personally, was the depiction of autism in the book. Seeing Nick using a fidget toy/comforting object to ground him, not being able to say his feelings out loud and instead having to write them down, and not being good with physical contact really meant the world to me. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt so well and truly seen in a book and it was the most personal depiction of autism that I’ve ever read. Everything about his character spoke to me and that is something about this book that I will always cherish!

If I have one criticism about the book, it’s that I wish it was longer. I got to the last page and it seemed to end too abruptly for me. I wanted to know what happened afterwards, what happened to the ALC crew: were they safe?; did they get back at the Vanguards?; what happened to the rest of the world? I can only hope that in the future we get some sort of novella or something that clarifies it, because I’m a sucker for character driven books and Hell Followed With Us did that so well!

Honestly, this was such a great book, and if you pick up any debut novel this year – make it this one!

About the Author:

Andrew Joseph White is a queer, trans author from Virginia, where he grew up falling in love with monsters and wishing he could be one too. He is a graduate student in George Mason University’s Creative Writing program and has a habit of cuddling random street cats. Andrew writes about trans kids with claws and fangs, and what happens when they bite back.  

He is represented by Zabé Ellor of the Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency. Author photo by Alice Scott.

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