Hell Followed with Us

Peachtree. Jun. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682633243.
Gr 10 Up–A queer teen brings the full weight of trauma and rage to bear upon the fundamentalist cult that abused him in this gruesome, emotional debut. After The Angels, an ecoterrorist group, released “The Flood” upon humanity in a bid to cleanse the Earth of nonbelievers, the world was left ravaged and overrun by the slavering remains of the population now hideously warped by viral load. Benji, a white, transgender teen, was raised within the group but is now on the run after they subjected him to emotional and physical abuse and infected him with a strain of The Flood designed to slowly and painfully transform his body into that of a Seraph—a grotesque approximation of an angel meant to finish the cleansing. When his father is murdered, Benji finds safety and acceptance with the remaining members of the Acheson LGBTQ+ Center (ALC), including Nick, a white, neurodiverse teen who helps him to process and harness his fury against the cult and its leaders. Vivid descriptions of viscera and gory suffering appear on nearly every page, creating an intense reading experience that is sure to appeal to movie and body horror fans. However, readers may struggle to follow when intense descriptions of rotting organs, black vomit, and disintegrating skin are immediately followed by romance, which often feels discordant. While the members of the fundamentalist group are white, the ALC teens represent a large variety of gender identities, sexualities, races, and religions.
VERDICT This authentic story of consuming fury and the power of found family to heal is an excellent choice for fans of Neal Shusterman’s “Arc of a Scythe” series or Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist.

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