REVIEW: Hellhole by Gina Damico

hellholeHellhole by Gina Damico
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

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.

mythoughtsHellhole had been on my TBR list since I first found out it was being written. I absolutely loved Croak and Scorch, so figured Hellhole would be another winner by Gina Damico. And while I did like portions of the book – enough to give it an overall positive rating – I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would. The book still included Damico’s gift for dark humor, and I definitely laughed out loud at portions of it. But I sort of feel like books should have an element of character growth, where the main character learns from their mistakes and makes changes to their lives because of them. And while I guess Max does learn some hard lessons, I didn’t care much for the ending; it just fell flat for me personally and was missing the comeuppance that I really felt should have been there.

First off, I have to admit that this book took a bit for me to become interested and invested in the story; 22% to be exact. And even once the devil – Burg – shows up, the story still moved a bit more lethargically that I’d have liked; I had to force myself to continue reading in places, particularly when it seemed like Max made one bad decision after another. Yes, there’s humor, and I guess there’s a sort of tempered action as well as Max tries to carry out Burg’s requests, and the banter between Burg and Max was funny in places, there just wasn’t that special “it” thing about Hellhole to really keep me eagerly turning pages. Once I got going I finished it in a fairly timely fashion, so it isn’t that it really reads slowly, it was just more that I personally didn’t love it. Particularly once the climax hit and I realized that the ending I was hoping for wasn’t going to happen.

I did like Lore’s back story, however, and the way her history tied in so closely to what Max was going through. I liked that she had several causes to say “I told you so” and didn’t, and I do like that she stayed with Max and continued helping him even when he didn’t really deserve it. But when you make a deal with a devil you expect darker and more important things to happen and that just wasn’t the case here. I mean, Max definitely had some scares, and you can see the deal with Burg weighing on him as the book goes on, but there just ultimately wasn’t enough personal growth in Max for me to be totally satisfied. I won’t say anything else so as not to spoil, but I just really felt let down by the way the book ended. It was almost like we’d had all this amazing tension building up only for everything to fall flat. But maybe that’s just me.

If you’re interested in Hellhole, I say read it. But if you’re wanting to read it because of Gina Damico’s previous series, you’ll probably want to rethink that a bit. Hellhole is nothing like Croak and its sequels, and that’s totally okay. I just wish I had known that going in; maybe then my expectations would have been a bit more tempered.


An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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1 Response to REVIEW: Hellhole by Gina Damico

  1. Pingback: February in Review | Read and Reviewed

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