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[This cover is badass. Everything is made to look like a summer slasher VHS tape. Front/back/spine. Even down to the ‘Be Kind, Please Rewind’ sticker]
“The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?”
There are quite a few reviews of this floating around that compare this book as ‘If Sixteen Candles and The Exorcist had a baby’ and I was immediately drawn to the cover and how awesome it is.
Cheesy 80’s horror? Demonic possession/Exorcisms? Campy teen drama? Sign me up!
The book covers how young Abigail and Gretchen first met and became the best of friends in the early 80’s and how their friendship only blossomed and they became ever closer to the main focal point of the story of 1988 in highschool.
They’re relatively popular, and think they own the world. However, one day after trying out drugs out in the woods, something terrible happens to Gretchen. You go through the story from there learning in graphic detail from Abby’s eyes of Gretchen succumbing to being possessed by a powerful demon. This not only throws a wedge into their friendship, but this is an extra evil demon it seems, that is hellbent [ha] on ruining Abby’s life because it knows that Abby is the one person who can push it out of its host.
Like Hendrix’s other books, this story can be best described as a comedy-horror. It swan-dives into the 80’s and all stereotypes and embraces it like a loved one. Every chapter name is a popular 80’s song, the slang is on point, as with the descriptions of fashion and pop culture. However, it also covers a lot of the dark side of the 80’s – the ever expanding Satanic Panic happening in those times, racism, sexism, homophobia, class separation, victim-blaming and the general suppression of the Reagan era. This is especially prevalent when learning of Gretchen’s family, who are staunch republicans.
There is no hiding away from graphic detail of Gretchen’s possession in this book, and the fucked up things she does, and then of course her eventual exorcism attempt. There’s gore, violence, lots of puking, lots of generally disgusting stuff [let’s just say that there’s a scene that includes 35 pounds of tapeworms inside of someone that have to come out] and sadly, pet murder. [Not kidding on the whole ‘fucked up things character does while possessed by a demon’ bit]
What I loved a lot about the book as well, is how often I’d find myself smiling in amusement or legitimately laughing, only to be sucked into a fucked up part just a few paragraphs later and be stunned by it. [It went like: ‘HAHAHA — OH.’] I won’t go into a lot of detail on the exorcism aspect of the book but let’s just say it’s done by a meathead jock priest that whenever described I legitimately snorted.
I also really appreciated the general care taken of the female characters in the story. They could have easily been sloughed off to match how bad women were written in anything in the 80’s, but their reactions are genuine and convincing, and while some characters are shit, most are relatable. Also it was a super feminist-friendly take on horror in general, and a book that shows the true power of friendship.
The book is genuinely enjoyable for anyone that likes horror and that 80’s teen movie vibe. I’ve already had some of Hendrix’s other books on my radar but they are definitely going to be added onto my reading list now.
I give My Best Friend’s Exorcism 5/5 Hairspray-Loaded Frizzy Perms
“DBNQ” Abby replied.
It was their shortland for ‘I love you.’ Dearly, But Not Queerly.