My Rating: 3/5
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a curious book and like most curious things it’s hard to describe one’s feelings upon encountering it. This is the first book that I’ve picked up that has described itself as a strictly horror book. I thought I give the genre a try especially since one of my New Years’ goals was to read more diversely, both in genre and perspectives. And my overall opinion?
I have to say that I ultimately enjoyed this book. It’s dripping with 80s nostalgia particularly for its music. Every chapter is a homage to an 80s hit and being the music junkie that I am, I squeed every time I recognized the song. Especially when I saw how the song tied in the wider narrative. There were also nods to the movies of the time. Reading this book was like watching an 80s horror film. Though parts of the book were rather grotesque, most of the horror was shown through the psychological effects of a demon that isn’t truly seen for most of the book. There was also a fair bit of camp throughout that kept the fun.
The characters were rather hit or miss for me. You got your main cast of characters in a private school. And unfortunately, you’re constantly reminded that the primary setting is a high school. Those one dimensional character tropes rhat are usually expected from the “teen scream” genre rear their ugly head here and make you glad when some get their comeuppance. This may be the point but after some of the pettiness and stupidity exhibited it grates on the nerves. This is even more so for the parents of said teenagers. My God! They were all awful! Just awful! I know the author was trying to make a point in showing how caught up each of them were with appearances but this book pushed my suspension of disbelief. We were even supposed to feel for one set near the end which was really hard to do when they did nothing other than critique the character rather than offering actual assistance. I know what they were doing but I just couldn’t help being irked by it all.
Though some characters fall into familiar character tropes, the characters that we were supposed to focus on (Abby and Gretchen) were really well fleshed out. They showed a capacity of falling into some of those things from typical teens in a horror story while also having more dimension to them. This is especially true for the main character Abby who, unlike everyone around her, comes from a different socioeconomic class and has to tiptoe the line to prove herself to her peers. The overall relationship forms the emotional coRe of the narrative and it was touching to see the lengths Abby went to to help her best friend.
Another issue I had with this story was it’s early pacing. The story begins with showing how Abby and Gretchen first. Exams friends. This part sped a good 5 years of history and then suddenly jumps a good 3 more without warning. The first few chapters were jarring because of it.
Otherwise, this book is a fun horror story.