Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
This book is one of those rare books that I come across sometimes, a bit like Mortal Instruments, where I'm not really sure if I really enjoyed it or not. The story was pretty good, it was well written… but something about it stops me from making my mind up.
Apocalypse Now Now follows Baxter Zevcenko as he unearths the supernatural side of Cape Town following his girlfriend’s disappearance in the midst of the mysterious murders of young girls. After he becomes the number one suspect enlists the help of Jackson Ronin.
To be honest, at first I didn't really like Baxter as the hero. He's a troubled young man who is selfish, stubborn yet gifted with a fantastic business mind, which is spent creating a school-yard porn distribution empire. Baxter and his little group of friends, known as the Spiders, are stuck in the middle of a gang warfare at their school. He is the guy that I would love to hate but throughout the first half of the book he shows odd bits of humanity, or niceness, that makes it difficult to dislike him completely.
Human has managed something that not many people have been able to do for me, he has created a main character that I hate yet begrudgingly like. I hate that I like Baxter. Baxter's support characters are also well written and often have a hidden layer that you don't expect to be there. This just adds to the theme throughout the book - that nothing is as it seems.
Human has also done a good job at explaining South African slang and terminology without making you feel like an idiot for not knowing it. I have read many books from around the world where there are unusual words that I have had to look up on Google but Human explains these in the books not long after they are first introduced and makes the South African teen lifestyle feel perfectly normal.
When I first got the book and read the blurb on the back “Neil Gaiman meets Tarantino” I was worried that this book would be a mess of action sequences and plot twists that didn't make sense. When I started reading the book I was a bit confused about why certain things were mentioned. Why was this article mentioned? Why was there a flashback here? It didn't seem to make much sense but I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything made sense and tied up well at the end.
The action was well paced and, while descriptive, didn't make me cringe or want to skip ahead. The only part where the action got a little bit difficult to follow was the climax of the book, but I have yet to find many books who can pull off an ending on such a big scale. There were some points where I felt like I was reading a Michael Bay movie but these were few and far between.
Despite the great, if somewhat clichéd characters, I think that my main issue with the book is that the book starts so normally. This means that when Baxter dives into the supernatural world it is difficult to slot the fantastical creatures of South African mythology into the mundane normal world that we are used to.
The transition between Baxter rejecting the supernatural to accepting it is a bit odd. It seems like such a clichéd plot device - and one that is normally used in supernatural TV shows - that it takes a little while to let your mind adjust to the sudden change. There are a few chapters where it feels like your brain is trying to adjust itself to the sudden appearance of these mystical creatures and by this point the action is so constant that your brain gives up on trying to understand and just accepts what you are reading.
On the whole I enjoyed the book, it had many aspects that I like in a book. But I think how mundane the book started off jarred so heavily with the insanity by the end of the book that it prevented me from enjoying it completely. For others this may not be a problem but for me it treads that fine line between enjoyment and just plain confusion. As I said in the opening paragraph, I'm not sure if I like it but I would still recommend it to my friends, if only to see if they feel the same as me.
This Apocalypse Now Now book review was written by Anna Sheldrick
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