‘Hell Followed With Us’ is A Monstrous Queer Novel Debut Pushing What YA Fiction Can Be


“Hell Followed With Us” (Courtesy PeachTree Teen)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


Andrew Joseph White‘s queer, trans, monstrous Young Adult debut “Hell Followed With Us” isn’t afraid to push the limits of how dark, frighteningly real and openly queer Young Adult books can be. 

‘Hell Followed With Us’

The novel centers around a trans boy named Benji who is trying to escape from a religious cult that brought about the end of the world with a plague. Benji himself has become a living host to this plague.

He meets a group of queer teens at a local LGBTQ+ Resource Center and the narrative turns into something scary, unflinchingly queer and packed with tension. 

White’s debut novel has been turning heads on TikTok and Instagram for its queer and autistic representation and cast of diverse, queer teens who are dealing with a lot of problems in the wake of a virus being unleashed by a religious cult. The book, while full of heavy moments and terrifying religious extremities, allows queer teens to be queer teens even at the end of the world.

There are moments of joy and calm as characters find love and form friendships. They bond over their experiences of survival and resistance. In the novel’s pivotal moment, they accept each other for exactly what they are without demanding they change or be a certain way to be valid. 

“Hell Followed With Us” raises a lot of questions about what YA literature can be and how much is too much for the category, even in a horror genre. The book is more than death, struggle and monsters. It carves out a space for queer teens to be themselves and for queer readers to see themselves represented on the page. It proves that queer people can be messy, monstrous and that they can still be human at the end of the world. 

A Gloriously Grim Representation

As a trans person myself and an avid reader of YA fiction, I knew that this book would hold something for me. Had I known that it would hold so much space for queer and trans bodies that are different, that aren’t held to cisgendered standards, that are loved, I would have cried a lot more. 

Seeing a trans character like Benji who doesn’t need hormones, surgery or even a human form to be valid as a boy was a moment of pure joy. There aren’t criteria for the characters in White’s book to be queer; they simply claim the word and forge its meaning for themselves. 

The dark elements of terror, gore and violence in the book are strangely bearable and a welcome change of pace. They weren’t overwhelming but they prove that YA doesn’t have to be happy or silly to be YA. In fact, all YA novels need is to address issues of interest to the age group of its readers, not necessarily rosy content.

If “Hell Followed With Us” hasn’t already been on your radar, now is the time to pick up this terrifying, honest and queer narrative. Somehow, it manages to feel like a queer homecoming, with the characters at the end of everything. 


[email protected]