Hell Followed with Us
Andrew Joseph White
Published June 7, 2022
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About Hell Followed with Us
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.
I don’t usually read horror, so this one is a little bit outside my usual book choice. I couldn’t resist checking it out, though. There’s something really compelling about the cover. I don’t know if it’s the pairing of the colors (obviously I have a thing for turquoise and orange) or the title, which references a Bible verse in Revelations? Either way, as soon as I saw the cover, I knew I needed to check out the book.
The plot: basically this cult takes the worst parts of humanity and clothes them in a twisted version of holiness. It’s bad religion taken to an extreme. Benji references all these scriptures he’s been taught as he’s trying to figure out what to do and what he believes. We get to see how they’ve been twisted for control or abuse. I felt like that was really powerful and also heartbreaking, especially when it was verses that I’ve also memorized and they were being used to cause such harm.
One of the things I liked, too, was that there are these moments where faith comes up and Benji really wrestles with whether God exists. He doesn’t believe what he’s been taught about who God is or what believing would command him to do. But he continues to pray, even if he’s not sure it’s doing anything. He has a conversation with another teammate who also is a person of faith. I liked that the story didn’t straight up demonize faith but created space to explore the difference between a religious terrorist organization and faith that uplifts or inspires people. That’s not what the story as a whole is about though. It’s just a moment in the book.
Character Elements versus Horror Elements
Benji is a pretty tormented character. He’s barely escaped what is obviously (mostly off-scene) a hugely traumatic upbringing in the Angels cult, so he still has a lot of processing to do about what happened to him. He’s only beginning to unpack what is actually true versus what he was told in order to control or manipulate him. The threads of thought he takes us through as he dismantles his abuse gripped me probably more than anything else in the book. That journey and the frank, in-process way that it’s related kept me locked into the story from beginning to end. Some of the cult exploration aspects of the book reminded me a little bit of THE PROJECT by Courtney Summers.
Would I have been more comfortable if there were less, er, slaughtering via teeth? Yeah. For sure. Ha. But I can’t help but be so glad I read this book. I get the hype about it. I love the ways it made me think.
Readers who enjoy fast-paced, post-apocalyptic stories or books that examine cults and recovery from being in a cult should check this one out. I don’t read much horror, but another in the genre that I enjoyed is IT LOOKS LIKE US by Allison Ames. If you liked the balance of character driven elements to horror elements, you would probably also like HELL FOLLOWED WITH US.
Graphic violence, transphobia, domestic violence and religious abuse, self-injury and attempted suicide.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Benji is a trans boy who grew up (and escaped) a radical cult. Nick is autistic. Other minor characters identify as queer.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.
Kissing between two boys. One scene leads up to oral sex but doesn’t describe it.
The Angels cult is loosely based on Christianity but is pretty twisted. They’ve created and unleashed a fatal pandemic as well as a disease that causes awful mutations. They kill anyone who disagrees with them or their ideas. Biblical scriptures are warped and used to defend murder and control.
Situations of peril. Battle scenes with graphic descriptions of injuries and death. Graphic descriptions of mutations and death caused by the Flood. Graphic descriptions of bodies rotting. Some scenes show or reference execution. One scene (referenced more than once) describes domestic violence. Several scenes show or reference religious abuse. Several characters exhibit transphobia. In some scenes, a character is misgendered and referred to by his deadname.
A few characters sip wine that someone saved for a “special occasion”. Benji does not and a Muslim character does not.
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