Max Kilgore’s name sounds like something out of the latest action blockbuster, but his personality is the total opposite. His passion for dinosaurs and crossword puzzles, along with a really bad haircut, put him at the bottom of the food chain, and with a squeaky clean record Max is the epitome of a “good kid”. So imagine his surprise when one day, after digging for fossils on his local hill, he opens up a hole straight into hell. Now he has to deal with Satan (who has a passion for Doritos and Call of Duty) while taking care of his terminally ill mother.
So this book seems like it would be pretty funny, right? I mean, how could this book not be totally lighthearted when the supposedly evil Satan (who is just one of 666 Satans, and is in charge of the evil that makes people addicted to snack foods) not be totally lighthearted? And, at first, it is. The humor reminded me of a slightly darker version of Percy Jackson. Unfortunately, as the story progressed, this humor went away and the book became very serious. This was probably intentional, and I understand the decision to make the main character more serious as the book gets darker, but I find it hard to take the character who’s extent of evilness is established to not go any farther than a stomach ache from eating too many Cheetos seriously. Other people might enjoy this, but I wasn’t really interested in any part of the book other than the humor. I was really reading the book just because it was funny, and I almost had to put it down because the focus of Hellhole was obviously supposed to be humor. Whatever the author’s intentions were, she did not pull it off. And beyond the humor problem, there were a multitude of plot holes, and very little is ever explained about how Hell works. If we don’t have any humor, and we don’t have a quality plot or writing, what do we have? Oh yes, everyone’s favorite part of the young adult novel, angst. All of these things on their own might have been bearable, but put together added up to a book I could hardly finish.