Hell Followed With Us / Andrew Joseph White / Book Review

Benji's on the run. He's not the first trans kid in history to run away from a hyper-religious home, but he might be the first with a murderous cult on his tail. Benji isn't just any teenager, after all. He's their secret weapon: Seraph, the avenging angel who will end humanity once and for all.

Not that there's much of humanity left. The Angels already decimated the population with the bioweapon they released two years ago, leaving the lucky dead and the unlucky writhing masses of flesh in the ruins of the world. They need Benji to finish the job.

But just as they corner Benji, Benji is rescued by a group of vigilantes, local teens from the Acheson LGBTQ+ Center. These kids take him in, adopt him, make him one of their own at the insistence of Nick, their leader. Only Nick knows the truth about Benji--knows that Benji is a bioweapon worse than they've ever known. And Nick might have a hidden agenda of his own. 


This book comes with some big claims and some big comparisons. I try not to judge a book by its comps, but this book was still disappointing. It's very dark and very angsty, which is a definite mood but not the one I was in. It has some really great pieces, but they didn't mesh together well in the end. 


  • Autistic Rep: It is really great to have some neurodivergent representation in a main-cast character, especially when that representation is so carefully incorporated (and his autism is not the end-all-be-all of the character himself). It is great to see an autistic character who is not a side character used purely to "round out" and "diversify" the cast, and it is even better to see an autistic character as a love interest, a person in power--a viable player in the plot itself. 
  • Trauma: Benji is a character burdened with all kinds of trauma. This isn't going to be something that everyone will enjoy reading--Benji's trauma is certainly heavy--but it is important to represent broken, struggling, scarred characters--characters who aren't just broken and scarred due to some "traumatic backstory" that doesn't ultimately do much besides add an edgy flair to the writing. Benji has scars from religious trauma, family trauma, gender dysphoria, relationship trauma. Benji has been hurt and continues to be hurt, and these wounds don't just magically go away. They continue to affect him, and he continues to struggle through this trauma in both unhealthy and healthy ways. 
  • Building Apocalyptic Dread: This book starts with a bang--the bang of a gunshot--and so appropriately starts with vivid trauma splashing onto the bag. The building sense of dread after this abrupt and shocking opening only help to enhance that. As the world expands, so does the sense of woe and foreboding--impending, apocalyptic hopelessness. That hopelessness is a vital tone to any apocalyptic narrative, I think, and it is definitely captured in this book. This book got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, worldbuidling-wise, but it definitely gets into a groove once the characters are settled, and the sense of uncanny dread that grows is something I greatly appreciate. 


  • Tonal Mismatch: As I said, this book did get off to a bit of a rocky start. There was a distinct difference in tone between the "apocalyptic" scenes at the very start and the more "domestic" scenes Benji becomes a part of when he finds his new group. When he is with these new friends, there is no strategy, no sense of urgency, no ultimate point. They are just friends sitting around and chatting, doing chores, and vaguely considering the apocalyptic world around them. I just wish there had been a bit more apocalypse in these found-family scenes. They didn't mesh well with the world, even though I appreciated what the author was attempting. It didn't work. 
  • Third Present: It definitely tripped me up when we switched into Nick's point-of-view the first few times. Unlike Benji's, Nick's perspective is told in third person, still in present tense. The combination of third person present tense really threw me off . It drew attention to itself. It felt clumsy and awkward. Any time you notice this type of narrative choice (unless you're actually studying the book in that capacity) is a problem. 
  • Neo Pronoun Apocalypse: The discussion that happens within these pages on this topic is really great, but it also ties into the tonal mismatch. I'm just not sure people will have the energy to be debating neo pronoun usage in the literal apocalypse. It just doesn't feel like a top-tier priority. Don't get me wrong. People will definitely still be using the pronouns that they prefer, and they will still be sharing these pronouns with their friends as applicable. But debating the merits seems a little... not tonally right? It just doesn't feel like a hill to die on when there are literally people dying on hills nearby. I felt similarly about This Golden Flame. There's a time and a place, but is this the time and the place? I don't think so. The representation is good, and I know why Andrew Joseph White felt the need to include explanation and debate, but... It doesn't feel natural, and that makes it feel a little bit too agenda-y (even though I don't believe it was meant that way). 



Fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale will enjoy this darkly religious new world. Those who appreciated Steven King's The Stand will like this new cast of characters surviving the aftermath of a plague apocalypse. 


Publisher: Peachtree Teen
Date: June 7, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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