Hell's Game by Teresa Lo
Release Date: April 5, 2012
Reading level: Young Adult
On Halloween night in Deer Creek, Kansas, Jake Victor, Ashley and Ashton Gemini, and Kristin Grace convince Ronnie Smalls to meet them at the town cemetery, which local folklore has always rumored to be the Gateway to Hell. Their intention was only to scare him, but soon the wicked prank becomes actual horror as the group learns the Gateway is all too real. After demons snatch Ronnie and drag him to Hell, the terrified foursome vow to keep what they had seen a secret.
Two years later, the group receives a mysterious letter, an invite to play a high-stakes game in Hell. If they win, they release Ronnie’s soul as well as their own from eternal damnation. If they lose, they are stuck in Hell forever. Choosing to play, they face nightmare after nightmare as each level escalates in intensity and forces them to face the seven deadly sins.
Inspired by the legends of the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas, Hell’s Game explores the cruelty that teenagers can inflict upon each other as well as the horrors that exist amongst mankind. It is a dark, action-packed young adult novel that will both scare its readers and make them question the true meaning of evil.
-- from Goodreads.com
I absolutely loved the story for Hell's Game. The entire premise reminded me of one of my most favorite series from the early 90s called The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith. Not to mention the entire book felt like it was a modernization of the great Point Horror masterpieces of the same era. I was immediately immersed in familiar ground & taken on a ride that was both expected & then completely new at the same time. I loved every second of the story; all the character interactions & growth as well as the great nuances of old & new story telling that abound on each page.
The idea of Hell calling down a game on people who had tricked an innocent soul into being kidnapped by Hell was pretty great. I loved the idea because, thanks to the way it was written, I was able to segregate reality from the very fictional story being told. I loved that we had quite a few character archetypes that managed to grow beyond their set molds like the pretty popular girl who is just really a witch, the meat-head jock who wants to be more, & the stereotypical smart Asian chick with a hidden past. Each character was well designed & fleshed out. Each level of hell was intricate & meticulously brought to life by Ms. Lo.
The biggest drawback for this book is the lack of editing that I found. Almost every page featured some sort of grammatical or spelling error, the omission of a word, the misuse of a word or its homonym, punctuation error, or the odd swapping of a character name from scene to scene as happens with Kristin's father who appears to be named both Nathan & Bryan depending on the scene. I find myself unable to recommend this book based on the number of errors in the editing because they were very distracting to me as I read the book. There were a number of times that I had to stop reading because I could not immerse myself anymore due to the errors. Then I came back because the story itself was so intriguing that I wanted to know what would happen next.
Overall this book gets a dual grade of 4 stars for the story & characters but it sinks to 2 stars due to the lack of editing & prevalence of errors. I felt the strong wish that I had been given the chance to copy-edit this book myself before it was published & sent out for reviews. I believe in the story & really enjoyed what I read. I just wish it had been presented with more professional editing than the copy I received.
About the Author:
Teresa Lo is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is currently a cast member on Just Seen It, and she has contributed to Examiner.com, Yahoo.com, The Hollywood Reporter, The University Daily Kansan, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts website. She has published two books of short stories, and she has won various screenwriting awards. Most recently, she released the YA horror e-book, HELL’S GAME. She is a member of the international Horror Writers Association, and she is the Social Media Chair of USC’s Women of Cinematic Arts.
Find Teresa Elsewhere:
Official Teresa Lo Site
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