I can remember watching The Exorcist with my dad one afternoon when I was nine. It scared the living freak out of me, even though I played it cool (while hiding in the crook of his massive arm). But even though it terrified me, that story has always stuck with me. While it is not the same as the original 1973 Exorcist, starring Linda Blair, Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism is one of those books that transfixes readers. It grabs hold of them (perhaps like the demon who takes over Gretchen’s body?) and refuses to let you set it down until you are finished. (Or is it finished with you?) Full of fun, 80’s nostalgia and a compelling narrative about female relationships, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the perfect summer read for those who want to laugh and scream at the same time.
Campy, 80’s Awesomeness
Reading My Best Friend’s Exoricism felt a little bit like watching Cabin in the Woods, which is a campy, self-aware narrative that pokes fun at the horror genre in many delightful ways. What I loved about this book, was that not only was it fast-paced, but it also set a light-hearted tone for readers with 80’s song titles as chapter titles. Setting the story in the 80’s made it seem like one of those old, slightly goofy 80’s horror movies, which I loved. And can we just talk about that gorgeous, VHS reminiscent cover that Quirk Books has going on? It’s delightful.
A Clever Framework
I’m always a sucker for anything that harkens back to the 80’s, but what really possessed me to keep on reading was the compelling narrative about female relationships that Hendrix situates within his campy, 80’s horror story. On the outside, it’s a story about a girl who gets possessed by a demon and does a lot of very gross, disturbing stuff to her best friends and her family. On another level, Hendrix touches on issues of sexual assault and male aggression without ever dropping a (delightful 80’s beat). I loved that the plot hinged on girlfriends standing up for each other despite the horrific events that happen. Even though demonic possession is (hopefully?!?) in the realm of fiction, the heartbeat of this narrative felt authentic.
Whether or not you love to be freaked out, this spooky book has good bones and a terrifically fast-paced plot. Read this book; you won’t regret it the way Gretchen regrets running off into the woods…
This week for Top Ten Tuesday, it’s all about my favourite books that I’ve read so far this year. Tough choice! There were a lot that I thought about listing, but in the end, these books stuck with me:
- My Best Friend’s Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix – I blew through this one in a day while floating in an inner tube at the cottage. My husband had to bring me food periodically, because I refused to put the book down. Seriously, it was that good. (Stay tuned for a full review of this book on Friday).
- The Girl with All of the Gifts, by M.R. Carey – This is another deeply creepy narrative, but told from the fascinating perspective of a zombie girl who is discovering what it means to be “alive.” I liked it because it felt in places like a twisted coming of age story.
- The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll – Not only is this book a great thriller from the first page, but there is an interesting discussion around female success and cattiness. Also: it’s all about reality TV. If you’re like me and you like tuning in to The Bachelor, then this book will keep you reading.
- Educated, by Tara Westover – Heartfelt, disturbing and powerful, this memoir had me captivated. It reads like a cult – escape narrative in some ways, which kept the momentum quick, but what struck me as the most fascinating were the family dynamics that Westover describes.
- Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag – I loved this graphic novel because it was campy and quick-paced and the artwork was excellent, but I also appreciated the original perspective on the super hero narrative.
- The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay – I know that I talk about this book a lot, but to be fair, it is really fantastic. I loved the atmosphere that McKay creates and the beautiful prose, among other things. Read more about it here.
- The Impossible Fortress, by Jason Rekulak – I picked this book up because it described 80’s nostalgia, and I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. What I ended up loving was the quirky romance and the hilarious heist narrative that piggy-backs on the larger story about a boy who loves to code video games. I would compare it to Ready Player One, but for me, it was better.
- Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch – Fun, flirty and set in Italy? Who wouldn’t want to read this book?
- The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish – I’m not normally interested in reading celebrity autobiographies, but this one was hard to put down simply because of all the crazy stuff that Haddish had to go through in her life. It was enlightening and at times quite funny.
- Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero – If you loved Welcome to Night Vale and Scooby Doo, then this book will have you riveted. I loved all of the nods towards the classic TV show and found the plot to be captivating.
What are some of your favourite books that you’ve read (so far) this year?