My Best Friend’s Exorcism
by Grady Hendrix
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Quirk Books
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 help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?
Gretchen and Abby are the very best of best friends. They’ve been friends since childhood and they believe they will still be best friends to see comet haley together the second time. But in fall 1988, after doing LSD and being missing for the night, Gretchen changed. Abby dismissed it at first, but when her behavior become too erratic and dangerous, Abby began to think: is it normal or is it a demon possesion?
This is my second Grady Hendrix book; the first one, Horrorstor, blew me away. It totally excedeed my expectations and creeped me out. So it’s safe to say that I have high hopes for this book, which unfortunately, this book failed to meet.
Let’s start with the setting. Lately, the 80s seems to be a favorite choice for book settings. While I usually love them, the setting didn’t work here. It tries too hard by slipping in too much pop culture reference and the slangs seem pretentious. What works for me is the town setting: the class division was very clear and I can connect with what Abby was feeling. But other than that, the whole 80s thing just doesn’t work for me. The format really fits the story though, it feels like I’m reading their class yearbook. It has opening page, closing, pamphlets, signature, and stuff. It definitely made me nostalgic of my own high school experience.
The characters themselves are just terrible. All of them are conceited and stuck in their own bubble. The girls are awful: Margaret is very snobby, Glee keeps pingpong-ing between the winning side, and Abby… well, she’s desperate. She’s not rich, nor pretty, nor popular and you can see how hard she try to overcome those things. She’s also incredibly naive, and as her mom and possesed-Gretchen said, she’s a hypocrite who thinks she’s smarter than everyone. It definitely what keeps things getting worse with no end in sight. As for Gretchen, we didn’t know her long enough before she got possesed, so I never got to form an opinion. There are so many minor characters present in this book, that I want to get to know more: Riley, Molly, Father Morgan, the exorcist… yet they didn’t get the spotlight and so I’m stuck with cast of characters that I don’t like.
The story itself is not compelling or engaging enough. The demon doesn’t feel menancing as in Horrorstor and the stake is not high enough for me to actually cared what happened. Ultimately, this book is a story about Gretchen and Abby’s friendship, but that also failed me. I constantly questioning Abby’s motive; whether she really cares about Gretchen or just try to save her because she doesn’t want to be alone. There is this one really fucked up scene concerning Margaret that made me unable to sleep, but that’s it.
I had high expectations with this book, but ultimately, it was a let down. The setting seems forced, the characters are unlikeable, and the evil entity doesn’t scare me. There are a lot more interesting unanswered questions, but unfortunately, none of them are addressed. If you’re looking for a creepy book, go read Horrorstor and skip this one instead.