Hell Followed with Us (Hardcover)
AJ White's stunning debut takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a manufactured virus transforms humans into fleshy monsters. A loosely Christian-based cult has developed around the virus and the creatures it creates with the belief that it is God's will that humanity suffers and dies.
A young trans man, Benji, finds himself at the center of the cult. Forcibly injected with the virus, he's raised with the intention of becoming a horrific creature they call the Seraph. Despite having been brought up in the cult, he doesn't agree with their mission. They abuse him and misgender him constantly, making life a living hell.
This novel is marketed as YA, and our main character is 16, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is firmly rooted in queer religious trauma and is fraught with graphic body horror. Although not to the degree of say, Felker-Martin's Manhunt, readers should still take caution when reading. Even I, in my 20's, was deliciously horrified and disgusted by White's gory descriptions.
Benji is rescued by a group of queer teens holed up in an old LGBT+ center. He must grapple with the contradiction of the destiny chosen for him, the ticking time bomb of a virus in his body, versus the new family he has found and their crusade against the cult.
The cultists who call themselves 'Angels' are a scourge to the remaining humans after the virus wiped out the majority of the population. Their death squads sweep through survivors without mercy. Despite their atrocities, it is all Benji has known for most of his life. His reconciliation with his abusive religious past and his new queer friends is a direct parallel to the struggle that young queer people raised religiously know all too well. Hell Followed With Us is a groundbreaking YA horror novel that I will be thinking about for years to come.— Nik
July/August 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“Hell Followed with Us is a viscerally stunning look at queer youth during an apocalypse. White has a fantastic grasp of how society’s holdovers can remain through disaster, or fall apart. This book will stay in my heart for years to come.”
— Minna Banawan, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC
A furious, queer debut novel about embracing the monster within and unleashing its power against your oppressors.
“A long, sustained scream to the various strains of anti-transgender legislation multiplying around the world like, well, a virus." —The New York Times
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.
But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.
Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own. Perfect for fans of Gideon the Ninth and Annihilation.
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
"A defining voice of our generation." –H.E. Edgmon, author of The Witch King
"Hands down the best YA horror book I've read." –Aden Polydoros, author of The City Beautiful
"A chimera of horror, romance, and something stranger." –Rose Szabo, author of What Big Teeth
"A timely and riveting tale." –Ray Stoeve, author of Between Perfect and Real
About the Author
Andrew Joseph White is a queer, trans author from Virginia, where he grew up falling in love with monsters and wishing he could be one too. He earned his MFA in creative writing from George Mason University’s Creative Writing program in 2022 and has a habit of cuddling random street cats. Andrew writes about trans kids with claws and fangs, and what happens when they bite back. Find Andrew on Twitter and Instagram @AJWhiteAuthor.
"'Hell Followed With Us' bristles with energy and intensity, written with a kind of gleeful ferocity. . . . It shines in crystalline moments when Benji considers himself and his body, the viciousness of the virus taking hold and the irony of its unexpected gifts. . . . White's novel . . . [responds] with a long, sustained scream to the various strains of anti-transgender legislation multiplying around the world like, well, a virus."—The New York Times
★ "[An] astounding and exhilarating debut. . . . This fast-paced adventure is chaotic in the best way, featuring diverse and relatable characters that readers will fall in love with, despite their flaws, and a heartrending love story that reminds us that humanity seeks comfort even in the most painful of times."—Booklist, Starred Review
★ "This cinematically gory apocalyptic horror not only delivers high stakes, fast-paced action, and fraught romantic drama, it engages critically with the intertwining impacts of colonialism, capitalism, and White supremacy. The resistance truthfully depicts diversity within queerness while also holding White queer people accountable for gatekeeping and upholding White supremacy. . . . A restorative, hopeful resolution brings the story to a satisfying close without turning Benji into a savior. A gloriously ferocious and scorching blaze."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "Using evocative and visceral language, compact storytelling, and inventive worldbuilding, White delivers a transformative depiction of apocalypse through a queer lens. This debut is a moving and timely tale of queer perseverance, offering hope for those fighting for the right to exist without apology."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Rippling with righteous fury. . . . Ultimately a story of both queer survival and queer perseverance. . . . Hell Followed With Us is, truly, like nothing else you'll read this summer, and its deft balance of destruction and rebirth offers a satisfying, if far from saccharine, end."—Paste
"A compelling, powerful, and ultimately reassuring message for teens deep in their own varied versions of misery."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This book made me feel as understood and validated as I was unsettled and pissed off. With vivid prose and a mirror held up to the ugliest parts of ourselves, Andrew Joseph White is poised to become a defining voice of our generation."—H.E. Edgmon, author of The Witch King
"Gloriously dark and immersive, Hell Followed with Us cuts straight to the core. With its endearing cast, detailed worldbuilding, and breathtaking horror, this novel kept me at the edge of my seat. Hands down the best YA horror book I've read."—Aden Polydoros, author of The City Beautiful
"A timely and riveting tale of queer teens surviving and resisting fundamentalism any way they can. Andrew Joseph White holds a mirror up to the monstrosities within all of us, and I couldn't look away."—Ray Stoeve, author of Between Perfect and Real
"A chimera of horror, romance, and something stranger. Hell Followed with Us won me over to its vision of a grotesque future where we're still here, still queer, and more monstrous than ever."—Rose Szabo, author of What Big Teeth
"In a brutal, vibrant debut, author Andrew Joseph White does something revolutionary: he fills dystopia with hope. Readers who enjoy smart, politically-savvy speculative YA will be captivated by this powerful new voice."—Kiersten Frost, Children’s Bookseller, Brookline Booksmith
"A utopian model for queer community masquerading as a dystopian YA novel. Andrew Joseph White has dared to create a story where queer kids of all stripes love, fight alongside, and care for each other despite their personal differences and the myriad of things looking to kill them. It is as beautiful as it is hard to read. This is what horror can and should be."—Cliff Helm, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO
"This is a book with teeth, with fire, and with a bloody, beating heart. Just as Benji sheds his skin to become a dark creature of wrath, Hell Followed with Us warps our own world inside out, showing the ugliest and brightest parts that humanity has to offer."—Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
"White states that this book ‘began life as a fit of rage.’ Rage is expressed in a world under the grip of extremists with their demented version of religion. White has written a book of gore, violence, and literally vomiting out one’s guts. Fast-paced and difficult to read but more difficult to not read, the underlying message of blindly following a leader is clear."—Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore, Indianapolis, IN
"Andrew Joseph White shows us exactly what it means to be human, in all its horrific and wondrous forms. He plants the knowledge of true family, letting it grow thick into the steady vine that keeps the characters (and us) together through the thickest of frays. Above all, he doesn’t flinch away from difficult truths, nor from ferocious emotions and pain. This will be one of the best and most important books of 2022."—Minna Banawan, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC