Hell Followed Us by Andrew Joseph White
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Publishing Date: June 7, 2022
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
Thoughts and Themes: I was a bit skeptical of reading this one because of the trigger warnings that are included at the start of the book. I figured though since I was in a good place I could read it and I am glad that I did because I really enjoyed this one.
I love dystopian books especially ones that are focused on pandemic, viruses, etc. that are no where near anything that this world has experienced. I find that this focus allows me to escape into another world while reading even if that world is also not ideal.
I really enjoyed how religion was tied into this story and the pieces of the bible that are included. Some of those pieces hit harder than others even if I knew they were in the bible. I really liked seeing how this book interpreted some of those pieces. For me, I’ve been reading a lot of books that include Catholicism and its been interesting to see how each book uses the bible verses to make their point.
Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Benjamin/Benji. You get to meet his ex-fiance, his mom, other people at the Acheson LGBTQ+ Center (ALC), and more. I really loved each of the characters that you get to meet throughout this story and even found the bad guys to be intriguing.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of each of the creatures that are introduced throughout this story and loved trying to picture what they looked like. I wish this was turned into a movie so that I could see these words come to life and see what Seraph looks like, what the Graces look like, and what the Angels look like. I loved learning about each of them and what they stood for and why they existed.
I loved the relationships that Benji had with each of the people involved in this story. I liked getting to see his relationship with his dad from his perspective and how that differed from his mom. I also really enjoyed getting to see his feelings for his fiancee, Theo, and how those feelings change throughout the course of this book.
I really enjoyed that this book included an Autistic character as the love interest and how we get to see some of those traits throughout the book. I like how Nick tries so hard to not show that he is Autistic to the rest of the group even if they are aware. I like how we get to see him stimming and also moments in which he is overwhelmed. I loved the relationship that develops between Nick and Benji and how complicated their feelings are for each other.
Writing Style: This story is written in first person through the perspective of Benjamin/Benji. There are bits and pieces that are told in the third person to give the perspective of Theo and Nick. I really liked getting a chance to see the story unfold through Benji’s perspective and only getting snippets of the others. I think that us being in their head allows us to see what he is thinking and how scared he is of some of the things that are happening to him and around him.
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.