Hendrix has written a wild novel about the 80’s and power of pop culture against demons, layered over some really serious topics like sexual assault and mental health. Join me as I fumble through My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
THIS IS YOUR SPOILER ALERT. THIS WHOLE POST IS RIDDLED WITH SPOILERS! You’ve been warned.
Let me get some plot related context out of the way. Four high school girls go into the woods and trip on acid. Two of the four, Abby and Gretchen, are best friends and have been since fifth grade. Which means Abby gets really worried when Gretchen goes MIA. When they find her hours later, she’s acting kinda weird. And her odd behavior continues for weeks.
The two other girls are A-HOLES and basically ignore what’s happening as Gretchen gets worse and worse. Which is impressive since Gretchen is not showering, not sleeping, talking crazy, and being super erratic. But Abby doesn’t give up on her and starts looking for answers.
Was the acid laced with something else? Was Gretchen attacked? Assaulted? Or, is she possessed? It seemed to me like she was potentially assaulted by one of the girl’s older brothers but her behavior is so erratic and weird and gross for WEEKS that Abby is like yeah she was possessed.
I should mention here that I do not appreciate the way Hendrix handled even the possibility that she’d been assaulted. It’s a serious issue that effects many people and Hendrix basically was like yeah it probably happened. Then brushed it under the rug.
Back to Abby.
A group of brothers who are body builders for Jesus come and do a school assembly. They show off their strength and how you can do anything through the spirit of God. Then one of them points at Gretchen in the audience and is like yeah, you’re possessed. After the show Abby follows them out to their van and asks about the possessed comment. But the other brothers tell him to shut up and then bail.
Gretchen gets worse and worse and none of the adults in their lives (teachers, parents, other school admins) are any help AT ALL. So Abby gets desperate and calls one that body builder and asks for his help. And he’s like ok cool I’m totally qualified.
Then they kidnap Gretchen to preform an exorcism and it’s super dumb. Like, all that build up was basically wasted on this plot’s climax. The body builder is useless so Abby ends up exorcising her with talk of POP CULTURE. And then everything is fine.
It’s so dumb.
In addition to my plot issues, I didn’t like the writing style. That’s personal preference so I’m letting that slide. But I’m not letting it slide that I didn’t like any of the characters. Abby, Gretchen, their friends, their parents. Not a single likable person in the whole thing. Honestly, I didn’t even super care if Gretchen was “saved.”
As for the rest of the book, this really wanted to be Stranger Things. Like, Hendrix jam packed every 80’s reference it could in the text. Which was kinda fun, but it felt like that got so much more focus then actual plot or character development.
I’m also not sure what genre to file this under. It wants to be horror but that’s a stretch for me. It doesn’t have many of the basic elements that I’d associate with horror, like inducing fear or suspense. All it had was a potential super natural element and even then, I’m not convinced she was actually possessed.
If you’ve made it this far down the page, it won’t surprise you that I wouldn’t really recommend this book.
There are so many good reads out there, this one feels like it isn’t worth the time. If you want something that handles possession and mental health and pop culture well, check out A Head Full of Ghosts which is incredible! Then read Cabin at the End of the World!
PS my family and I watched the Lodge the other night, because nothing says family time like watching a horror film, and I was so conflicted. Like, if you take away the artsy shots of snow or the sky, the story wasn’t great. Which, ok, it be like that sometimes when you’re watching horror. But it wasn’t that horrifying either. Like, dark, sure, but it ended exactly how it was set up to end. I don’t know. My family thinks I was over analyzing it but that’s what else is a girl with an English degree supposed to do?