Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 17, 2015
There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high.
With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out.
HELLHOLE is another book that I really picked up solely because of the audiobook narrator. If I’m being perfectly honest, this book wasn’t even on my TBR until I heard MacLeod Andrews narrated it! It wasn’t intentionally off my list but the book really hadn’t grabbed my attention and I actually really love my favorite audiobook narrators have recently motivated me to try books that I might not have otherwise!
HELLHOLE was really my kind of concept — a male narrator, a comedic circumstance, and an awkward romance usually hook me so I was interested right off the bat! Max was definitely the nerdy type and the amount of time that he spent taking care of his mother (who is very frail due to a heart condition) really kept him out of social circles even more. At times he was a bit too awkward and I had a hard time with it but overall, he was a fun character to connect with an an easy one to root for! Most of the characters were very easy to connect with and I really enjoyed seeing them interact!
The main issue that I really had with the book was the execution of the concept. In HELLHOLE, Max ends up being forced to house and comply with a devil (yes, an actual devil from Hell itself) because he was responsible for summoning and unearthing it. Chaos as well as comedy ensues because how can you play this one off without some comedy? (Which I enjoy!) The execution and rules that followed were a bit shaky for me. Some rules seemed concrete while others seemed a bit messy and the whole concept seemed a bit far-fetched. I mean, sure, housing a devil is far-fetched to begin with but I love when authors are able to make me forget that something is supernatural and not commonplace (much like Lish McBride’s book, HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER).
The devil character (Burg) also really didn’t appeal to me but I also know that’s a personal preference. I suppose I wanted a more appealing devil to make his offers, temptations, and commands harder to resist. I mean, it’s a book with a male POV so obviously it won’t be a temptation based on attraction (well, it could be. Or could be a female devil as well) but that was sort of what I was hoping for. Even one who acted a bit more normal or used a bit more intimidation to add a fear-factor. Burg was mostly rude, irritating, and frankly just disgusting. I have a low tolerance for “gross humor” so that was kind of hard for me and took away from how much I enjoyed the book.
I loved the purely platonic friendship between Max and his best friend Audi as well as the slow and awkward romance between Max and Lore. The relationships were really well done and I felt like they leaned away from the norms or stereotypes in many ways! I also love a good parent relationship and really enjoyed Max’s bond with his mom. They don’t always have it easy but Max is a great kid and really will do anything to help his mom (hence, the current predicament).
HELLHOLE was fun but there were a few minor things that ended up being kind of large turn-offs. It was a quick and easy read but not quite convincing. I didn’t quite love it as much as I had hoped considering there was a good mix of my favorite things in there! If I hadn’t been listening to one of my favorite narrators, I’m not even sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did.
MacLeod Andrews is always one of my favorites (maybe THE favorite narrator of mine) and I picked this book up entirely because he narrates. He really has a way of making every voice unique to a character and brings each one to life. I also almost always agree with the voices he chooses for characters, intonation, and narration style. He really just makes everything so vivid and real and I always enjoy performances from him!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Max // Character Obsessions: Taking care of his mom, work, being good.
I liked Max a lot in some ways and in others, he was hard to get along with but the good definitely outweighed the bad! He was a bit awkward at times but I really loved his dedication to the ones he loved and how hard he worked to stay a good person!
Burg // Character Obsessions: Junk food, fancy houses, women, vices.
Burg was the devil. No, literally, he was THE devil in the book. I was hoping for someone a bit more sinister to come off as creepy, scary, and intimidating but instead Burg was more obnoxious and disgusting. I couldn’t stand his bad habits so that sort of turned me off a bit there.
Kept Me Hooked On: Comedic paranormal. I never really thought of comedy combining with a paranormal or horror aspect until recently and I’ve actually really been enjoying it! It sort of lightens concepts that I might otherwise shy away from. (Like the devil living at your house…)
Left Me Wanting More: Crossing paths. I was expecting and had hoped for more of a Will/Will friendship. Although they met and ended up being connected to each other’s lives, they really didn’t end up becoming friends or directly affecting each other’s paths.
This one didn’t floor me but it was fun. The gross humor turned me off (okay, it was mostly just Burg who was gross) and the characters were sweet but a bit awkward at times. The audio was really what kept me hooked!
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(Click the cover to see my review!)