Today is a double review!!! Kim and I both enjoy doing these. Everyone experiences life differently, and therefore has different reading experiences with books. That is why I enjoy reviewing so much: There are so many different opinions and with My Best Friend’s Exorcism we get that. Kim and I have totally different reviews and thoughts of the novel. We both listened to the audiobook and one of us enjoyed it and one of us not so much….
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Jessica’s Rating: 3 Stars
Published: May 17, 2016
Description from Amazon:
A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. 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? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.
I listened to this book on audio, but I did read the physical book last year as well. This one is a bit more difficult to review because I’m kinda shallow when it comes to getting those subtle little things that songs and books try to convey. But after reading this book a second time, I do have a theory. I think this book is simply about the drama of high school. Yes, there is an actual exorcism and demon possession but I’m pretty sure it’s all supposed to be a metaphor. It’s hyperbole . . . boom, obscure literary term!
Abby and Gretchen have been friends forever. Inseparable since 4th grade and Abby’s birthday party where only Gretchen showed up. They had grown up together, at least as far as their sophomore year of high school. And then, everything changed. As one of the unpopular kids, I completely relate to a lot of the things happening in this story. To be on the fringes of high school hierarchy. At least, I never even entered the popular group, so I didn’t know what I was missing. But Abby and Gretchen were some of the most popular girls in their grade. I can only imagine the things that Abby feels when everything changes. A lot of it is typical high school girl stuff, but stretched to the fantastic and unbelievable. Anorexia, crushes on teachers, infidelity, friendship. All such big deals to teenagers and all dealt with here.
And though there is an exorcism of a demon, this wasn’t meant to be a Christian book and I don’t think Hendrix was trying to pass judgement on religion. Like I said, this is more metaphorical than realism. Aside from the language and soft sexual themes, I would actually recommend this to older teenagers. If nothing else, then to show that sometimes friendships last past high school, but most times they don’t, and that’s ok.
Dates Listened: October 26-November 3, 2017
I had wanted to read My Best Friend’s Exorcism for a little while and I got the chance to listen to the audiobook at Halloween time! For me that was perfect since it deals with an exorcism. It is labeled as horror, fiction, and young adult. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is not really horror though there are some scenes that are not for the squeamish. Technically also a YA novel as the main characters are teenagers, this book will not be for younger teens. There are adult situations and the language was extreme for me. Language does not tend to bother me unless it is extreme, and I got tired of hearing the F-word. I don’t think I have read or watched anything with that much language since the movie Goodwill Hunting. I actually debated on stopping it because of the language, but the novel is well written and I wanted to get to the exorcism, so I continued on.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is all about Abby and Gretchen’s long term friendship. They have been best friends since they were children and bonded over E.T. I was born in 1980 and this story takes place in the 1980s so I really enjoyed the references to everything from the music to E.T., and even VHS tapes! There are so many kids now that will not know what some of these various media and ‘relics from the past’ are!
Then one night something happens to Gretchen and she begins to change. Everything changes for Abby as well. A lot of what happens is cliquish in that high school way that things are. I did like that the novels shows how relationships can last or fall apart after high school. This is true on so many levels. I have one friend I still keep in touch with that I have known since sixth grade. She has become like another sister. She has moved to another state due to her husband’s job and I miss her so much! She will be that lifelong friend that some of us are very lucky to have. I love you Jennie!
I was anticipating the exorcism and for the most part it delivered. The narrator portrayed the demon’s voice very well. It actually got me in the mood to watch The Exorcist. Or maybe I’ll listen to the audiobook… Or maybe I’ll do both… But will reading The Exorcist give me nightmares????
**SPOILER:The one thing with the exorcism that I don’t agree with was that the exorcist did not defeat the demon, Abby did. For me that was saying that the girls’ friendship is stronger than God. I can’t agree with that. I did see the point that the author was making, which is the girl’s friendship, I just can’t agree with this direction. END SPOILER**
Overall, I can’t recommend My Best Friend’s Exorcism as the language was too much for me. I gave it three stars since it was well written and again, I loved all the 80’s references.
For you ‘children of the 80’s,’ there is a second cover and I think you will like it!
Happy Halloween!! It’s a work day, so it won’t be too fun or exciting. BUT… It’s still Halloween!!! Today Kim brings the perfect series for a Halloween review: The Asylum Series by Madeleine Roux!! She has the best “Bookstagram” picture:
The Asylum Series
Author: Madeleine Roux
Books in the Series:
The Asylum Novellas
Escape from Asylum (Prequel)
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s rating of the series: 5 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Asylum: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Sanctum: Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, many questions remain, and someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it’s here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years. Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of a surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the truth behind Dan’s connection to the asylum’s evil warden is more terrifying than Dan ever imagined.
Catacomb: Sometimes the past is better off buried. Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they’re being followed . . . and photographed. Then Dan starts receiving messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween. When the trio arrives in New Orleans and the strange occurrences only escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister fascination with notorious killers of the past. Now Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
Asylum Novellas: In The Scarlets, Cal is drawn into New Hampshire College’s twisted secret society—one with a deadly initiation. In The Bone Artists, Oliver tries to make a little extra money for college by working for a seedy organization that traffics in human bones. In The Warden, a young nurse starts a new job at the Brookline asylum but soon becomes suspicious of its unorthodox procedures. . . .
Escape from Asylum: The nightmare is just beginning. Ricky Desmond has been through this all before. If he could just get through to his mother, he could convince her that he doesn’t belong at Brookline. From the man who thinks he can fly to the woman who killed her husband, the other patients are nothing like him; all he did was lose his temper just a little bit, just the once. But when Ricky is selected by the sinister Warden Crawford for a very special program—a program that the warden claims will not cure him but perfect him—Ricky realizes that he may not be able to wait for his mom a second longer. With the help of a sympathetic nurse and a fellow patient, Ricky needs to escape now. Set long before Dan, Abby, and Jordan ever walked the hallways of the Brookline asylum—back when it was still a functioning psych ward and not a dorm—Escape from Asylum is a mind-bending and scary installment in the Asylum series that can stand on its own for new readers or provide missing puzzle pieces for series fans.
I absolutely love this series! I first discovered it 2 years ago while on one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble. I had just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and I was looking for something new and still in with the dark and eerie atmosphere. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, then you know that I love asylums and mental hospitals. So, when I saw Asylum, with its creepy cover, I snatched it up and I’ve been hooked ever since. Asylum is exactly what you want in a scary read. It has everything: ghosts, an asylum, mystery, human experimentation, history, etc. I usually read it all in one sitting, it’s an easy read but without being boring and oversimplified. I fell in love with Dan, Abby, and Jordan. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Dan. As someone whose family tree has been researched and listed out for the last 15 generations, I can understand how important knowing where you came from can be. Dan doesn’t have that benefit. Abby, the passionate artist, is one of the most courageous characters I’ve read. She’s scared, and has no problem admitting, but it doesn’t stop her from doing what she believes is right. And Jordan . . . you love him, you hate him, you never forget him! He provides some much-needed comic relief. The story drew me in and I ended up finishing Asylum in one evening and went back to B&N the next day and picked up the next book.
Sanctum scared the living crap out of me! As with most sequels, this story isn’t quite as strong as the first book, but the scary element wins out! I started reading it while Ivan was working a night shift, and I had to stop, get up, get dressed, and drive back to sit at the B&N Café just so I could keep reading. Yeah, it’s that scary! And I’ll admit that the first time I read it, I didn’t get it. There were some details that were a bit murky to me. But reading it again this year, I finally got it. The story resolved itself in a way that makes sense. After reading the series several times, I’d say that this is the place to read the novellas.
I’m not a big novella person, but I really liked these. They did what novellas are supposed to do. They gave added info that made the stories clearer. The Scarlet and The Warden give much needed background info that clears up a lot of that murk that I described in Sanctum. And Escape from Asylum would have been confusing without reading The Warden first. The Bone Artists is actually a very good sedge way into Catacomb.
Catacomb, I feel, is the weakest book in the series. I understand that Roux felt that Dan and Abby and Jordan’s story wasn’t finished, but this book is where it stopped being about the asylum and started being about Dan. Part of me says that Catacomb should have been a stand-alone book, completely separate from the series. But the more I ponder it, the more I’m ok with it being in the series, just not the highlight of it. There’s a very thin tie to Brookline Asylum and Warden Crawford, and that’s what I didn’t like. If she had connected this book to the other stories a little better, I think I would have liked this book better.
Though Escape from Asylum is considered a prequel, I would not suggest reading it as the first book in the series. There is a lot of info that will fly over your head if you don’t have the foundation of Asylum, Sanctum, and the novellas. This one isn’t quite as scary as the other books are. This one is the perfect asylum story. Crazy doctor who experiments on the patients, electroshock, hypnosis, rebellious nurses, patient conspiracy, some paranormal activity, etc. This one could also function as a stand-alone, even with those couple of details that are explained earlier in the series.
Overall, I love this series. It’s the first one I bring up when someone asks me for a book suggestion. I absolutely recommend this to anyone wanting a scary, Halloween read, or for anyone looking for an interesting series.
This week’s First Line Friday is another Kim suggestion!
Walter the cook killed himself in his little bedroom downstairs, just a few hours after saying good-night.
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.[Top]