This was a really fun book to read. I had picked up after reading Horrorstor by the same author Grady Hendrix. My expectations were high after reading Horrostor from this but let’s just say I was pleased just enough to have finished reading this book. I was expecting a full out horror story and in all honesty, it felt more like a suspense/ teen novel. Which is not to say that it’s not enjoyable.
The story is about two best friends Abby and Gretchen, who go to a typical high school in a typical American town in the Eighties. They hang with the typical group of friends (I am thinking of The Goonies, the kids from IT, the kids from Stand By Me), and it just so happens they all go swimming in the lake, which goes terribly wrong. Gretchen emerges from the waters all creepy and disturbed. Abby tries to figure out what is wrong and turns out Gretchen is possessed by a demon and so the crux of the novel is about whether Abby gets her friend Gretchen back or not. Will their friendship survive this? Is she really even possessed in the first place?
At times, it does feel like you are reading book more about the girls’ friendships and not so much about the possession and the demon, but then when the possession takes place, there is enough gore and scary stuff to keep a reader hooked on to reading the book till the end.
While one may be tempted to take this novel seriously, I felt it would be much better recevied by the reader if they were to take this novel as an homage to the 80s. Think of it as a trip down memory lane if you are a child of the 80s. I am not sure how kids today will receive this book. But then again, when you have shows like Stranger Things being a massive hit, you never know how well this book could do.
The nostalgia factor hits you when you read the title of the first chapter: Don’t You Forget About Me. Those who know this song, will instantly think of the movie The Breakfst Club. The last chapter is titled Fast Car, the iconic song by Tracy Chapman. There are enough references to songs that were popular in the 80s, as well as references to other things that defined the 80s culture.
I mean, even the book is shaped like an old VHS, front and back, complete with the Be Kind Please Rewind label! How much more nostalgic can you get?
In short, this book is a mixture of The Exorcist + Stranger Things + Teenagers + The 80s and a whole lot more.