Have you read this book?
I’ve ostensibly categorized Ayahuasca, by Jonathan Huls, as horror, but it’s horror in the same sense that Silence of the Lambs is horror. That is to say there is no speculative element — no ghosts, no otherworldly creatures, no evil magic, no demons, nada…. It’s a novel about two psychopathic young men named Damien and Paxton. I don’t know if splatterpunk is still a thing (is it?) but if I had to pigeon-hole this book, that’s probably where it would best fit.
So what’s a psychopath? Despite the commonality of the label, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the handbook used by the mental health profession — doesn’t contain the term. They use, instead, the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, which can be summed up as describing individuals who have a very minimally developed sense of right and wrong and an inability to understand or share another person’s feelings.
I also think it’s important to make a distinction between psychopath and sociopath — another term which doesn’t “officially” exist, but one we often hear. When it comes to psychopath versus sociopath, the main difference is that a psychopath has no conscience and feels no guilt, while a sociopath does have a conscience (albeit a very weak one) and does feel guilt, but not enough to prevent the antisocial behavior. Generally, sociopaths are able to exist within the framework of society while psychopaths usually aren’t.
So we have Damien and Paxton: young, strong, attractive, rich, and utterly without empathy or remorse when it comes to the way they regard and treat other people. And Ayahuasca is the story of their adventure.
With Paxton’s freshly minted pilot’s license in hand, he and Damien at last embark on a long-planned two-month vacation to Central America, where they will engage in a variety of alcohol and drug fueled escapes, not one of which will have any redeeming qualities. It quickly becomes apparent that the two are not your average college-aged frat buddies. They have a secret goal, which they refer to a G-88, which slowly reveals itself through their actions and dialog.
Jonathan Huls has a very visceral style that he uses quite efficiently to relay the gore, depravity, and horror of what Damien and Praxton get up to. Some of the events he describes in the book are disturbing, so much so that if I hadn’t charged myself with writing a review, I probably would have put the book aside.
If that’s the type of story you’re into, then you’ll find Ayahuasca a tasty treat. I’m afraid, however, that it’s not the type of story I’m into. I find every day news depressing enough and have no need to immerse myself in the depraved activities of two lunatics.
Four stars for the strong writing and zero for the story works out to two overall.