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Friday, February 13, 2015

[REVIEW] Hellhole by Gina Damico


Author: Gina Damico
Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: January 6th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Purchase from: Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
A devil is a bad influence . . . 

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. 

Gina Damico, author of the Croak series, once again delivers all the horror, hilarity, and high-stakes drama that any kid in high school or hell could ever handle.


My thoughts

Hellhole follows seventeen-year-old Max Kilgore, (who's not as cool as his name sounds) crossword puzzle geek and typically awkward teenager. Max's daily routine consists of working shifts at the Gas Bag, playing video games with his best friend Audie, beating his own crossword puzzle record, digging for dinosaur fossils and taking care of his sick mother. It doesn't usually involve stealing hideous bobble heads. It certainly doesn't involve unearthing demons. So when the demon Burg appears at Max's basement, Max has to enlist the help of a former goth girl to get rid of his uninvited houseguest before the stakes get too high.

Hellhole is a deliciously funny tale that combined paranormal and dark comedy. This book made me crack up a lot with the snarky characters and witty dialogue. Max's awkwardness + Lore's sass + Burg's evilness = RIOT. The characters are rich and colorful and Burg, especially, is very interesting. One second he's evil and nasty, the next second he's nice and funny. You know he's a demon but he's a very unpredictable one. Max's character development is quite subtle, but it has a definite weight to it. The things Burg did? You don't get back from those things unchanged. Max definitely emerged as a different person after all those things he saw and did.

While Hellhole is humorous and entertaining, this book also tackles some serious theme. It raises important questions about life and relationships. This book will make you ask yourself just how far you would go to save the life of someone you love. What’s really interesting is that there’s no black and white here. When the line between right and wrong gets blurry, you choose what’s best for the people you care for, right? And that’s what Max did – he chose to save his mother’s life, regardless of the consequences. His decisions may be questionable, but his intentions are relatable.

The plot is well-written and the build-up is steady, though the pacing is somewhat slow. As I've said, there are a lot of funny scenes but when things got serious, man, they really got serious. The dark parts balance out the humorous ones and I think the combination works effectively. Hellhole isn't perfect but it's definitely worth a try.


Meet the Author

Gina Damico is the author of Hellhole, as well as the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, one dog, and an obscene amount of weird things purchased from yard sales. Visit her website at or send her a tweet @ginadamico.
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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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