Thank you to author H.D. Kirkland for providing me with a copy of his novel Drop in exchange for this honest review.
Drop could be considered a horror novel, an existential exploration (which is always horror), a teen drama, and a psychedelic nightmare. Many books praise acid and other psychedelics as a window to heaven, a way to expand your mind to the wonders of the universe, and a good old fashioned hang out with buddies. Drop takes the alternative stance. This acid trip is horrific, dangerous, dark, and twisted. It’s a drop into the depths of the worst parts of us.
The first thing a reader may notice about this novel is the vocabulary. The author makes use of many 4 dollar words in a way that comes off as unnatural for a story about a bunch of druggie teenagers. Their dialogue is unusual and although it may be true that teens are known to wax poetic and philosophize with their friends while high, they don’t typically do it with AP English style formality.
Vocab lessons aside, these friendships do make a sort of sense. The characters behave naturally together and the group has a solid mesh of personalities. Jacob, the sheriff’s son is the timid one who has never done acid before and is hesitant to have his mind blown. Spoiler, he should have stayed at home.
The group goes to score from their usual dealer but this time he seems off. He’s not behaving in his usual way and he credits a ink black acid for changing his world. Although they definitely know better, they are determined to trip in the woods tonight so they buy it anyway. Jacob accidentally steals the whole vial, ensuring this night will not be forgotten.
The bulk of the book is told alternating between the present, campfire stories, and dark flashbacks. This makes the book feel more like a series of shorts than a cohesive novel. The flashbacks, many of which are of past drug trips, are long and meandering. Contextually, this style makes sense but it is a bit of a slog to get through.
The stories, however, are great. The narrator tells a tale of how the graveyard they’re camping in came to exist and this story within the story is an incredible horror short. It marks the point in the book where the description goes from day to day benign to grotesque and disturbing. It’ll perk you right up in your seat.
From there the story spirals downward, increasing in darkness until you’re not sure the characters will ever be able to climb out of the depths. If you’ve never done psychedelic drugs before, do not read this book before starting. You’ve heard of bad trips, this is the worst.
For me personally, I enjoyed the actual story and characters of Drop, the style just wasn’t for me. Individual readers may have a more favorable opinion on that matter. I encourage anyone who likes drug books to check this one out and see the other side of things.
Say perhaps to drugs.
3/5 drugs 💊💊💊
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If you like Drop you might also enjoy The Fact of the Moon is Stranger than Most Dreams.