Archive | 10:23 AM

Book Review: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix (4/5)

24 Oct

When my book club leader picked this, she said she’d read another book by the author and thought it might be a comedic horror. I’m not sure if it delivered on the funny, but it was not one I wanted to listen to when I was home alone or running alone. I’m not a big fan of horror but this one was still enjoyable.

Cover image via Goodreads

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Summary from Goodreads:

In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success — but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western – she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry’s meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris’s very soul.

This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that’s darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul…where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.

Based on the description of this book, I was really unsure what to expect. Parts of it were very realistic and parts of it had strong fantasy elements. I thought Hendrix combined them well into a compelling story. The things I was afraid of while listening alone were fantastical and that made it easier to deal with. I’m more afraid of something that seems realistic than invented. The scariest part for me was when the general public seemed to be acting as one, a hive mind, trying to defeat Kris. Those moments were truly scary because I could see it happening.

Of course, a lot of the characterization wasn’t credible, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Kris, Terry, and Miranda were the only characters I thought I should believe in and I did. Kris’s determination came over time and her paranoia grew appropriately. Terry was a great character because he was mostly developed without appearing in person and I thought that was really well done. He was built up in our minds by those around him more than himself. He was almost a disappointment when he finally appeared on the pages. Miranda was a great foil. I liked that she’d bought into Koffin, but not as much as other characters and she seemed more real because of it.

Kris was easy to like and was my favorite character. You felt bad for her because it felt like she couldn’t catch a break. But then you realize how much things were actively working against her and you start to cheer for her. She was easy to get behind and I think made a novel that was somewhat unbelievable more believable and very engrossing.

I related to Kris at the beginning when I thought she was down on her luck. As things started to get supernatural, I stopped feeling like I could relate to her much and just enjoyed the story. Starting off in a relatable way was a good technique for Hendrix to use because it drew me in well.

Grady Hendrix
Image via Wikipedia

Kris’s escape from the rehab facility was my favorite part. It made me so uncomfortable to hear about her squeezing through tunnels and crawling through mud. I was driving in the dark when I listened to that part and I was squeeming the whole time and kept thinking that the writing was just superb. It was so vivid that it made me uncomfortable to hear about. Absolutely amazing.

There wasn’t a single part of this book I disliked, but the evil creatures throughout took away a lot of it for me. I liked the idea that humans are inherently bad or there’s a devil that makes them bad. The idea that there is a creature that drives this was a bit too much for me and I struggled with imagining them and honestly ignored them.

The audiobook narration by Carol Monda was superb. She gave Kris an amazingly determined voice and also came across as an underdog fighting for every chance she got. Her voices for other characters were very similar, but her voice was so perfect for Kris that it didn’t matter.

The story makes us question the cost of fame or whatever other desire we have. Kris struggles to understand what she’s lost and what she’s gained and it feels like there’s no easy answer. Is the truth she’s living with easier than the ignorance her bandmates have chosen? Is what Terry has worth what he’s lost?

Writer’s Takeaway: Hendrix wasn’t afraid to make me squirm. There were a lot of uncomfortable parts of this book, especially when Miranda was almost raped and when JD is killed. Those stuck with me for a long time after reading the book and could be trigger points for some readers. However, the point Hendrix was making about those acts being unjustly motivated and being done by people who had sold out made a point. These are not things decent humans do and they show the true evil of the world.

A solid read though not a genre I love. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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