My Vacation in Hell by Gene Twaronite
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Reviewer Rating: 2.5 Stars
Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths
My Vacation in Hell by Gene Twaronite is a young adult version of Dante’s Inferno. I had managed to avoid reading YA literature for a while now, but I enjoy visions of Hell so I thought I would check this one out. Niven’s Inferno is one of the only books I have ever read twice and the geography and trails of Hell have always been something which has interested me.
The novel follows John, a 15-year-old misfit, as he and his guide travel down through the different layers of Hell. His guide is Virgil another kid from his school, who, for whatever reason, has already been to hell a few times. He also meets a girl from his high school who he has a crush on and she also helps insure John is not trapped in some foul region of Hell.
They follow through some of the layers of Hell, but it seems a bit haphazard and they do not follow Dante accurately and skip through many of the sections/layers. More of a horrors of Hell cherry pick as opposed to a complete journey.
Not too far into the novel, we discover John has been sexually abused. The journey becomes not so much a test of his morals and fortitude, but a chance for him to use Hell to work through the lingering damage of his personal inner Hell.
John is a likeable character and you want him to succeed. Despite his two allies, he is tested and in the end, must work out the riddles of Hell alone.
Things about this book which did not appeal to me would include the randomness of the encounters. At times, they could walk right by demons without a worry, but in other areas they almost lose their lives and freedom. I did not like how I felt regions of Hell were skipped over. John also tended to get saved in such a manner we really did not feel too much concern over his safety.
I do not mean to be too harsh, this is a book for teenagers. Perhaps a strange choice for a young adult book, but with Hell being used as a metaphor for a teen’s journey through his own inner torment, I think it worked. This book may also work for that strange nephew of yours, but I think most adults might want to steer clear of this one.