Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
|Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human|
|Reviewer: Steve Shayler|
|Summary: Apocalypse Now Now is a violent blend of folklore, crime and teenage angst with a protagonist who is extremely unpleasant but whom the reader still grows to care about.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: August 2013|
Baxter Zevcenko is a sixteen year old student in South Africa who believes everything in life is business related and for the sole purpose of increasing his own power. Baxter deals porn at his school and is the leader of a gang of misfits who have carved a niche within the school’s hierarchy out of the student populations need for smut. The group is called the Spider and Baxter believes himself to be the arachnid at the centre of an impressive web with the ability to manipulate and scheme his way to power and riches. His heroes are Rasputin and Machiavelli and we are made aware very early on that as well as being a despicable power hungry megalomaniac he is also quite possibly insane.
The story starts within Baxter’s school, Westridge High School, which is a shocking and unpleasant place where the different cliques and their conflicts are more like tribes, engaged in a war. The students at the school are violent and incredibly dangerous and the tale is quite shocking and surreal from the start. The opening chapters can be an uncomfortable read as Baxter as a narrator is very hard to warm to and the situations and school setting are often unpleasant.
Apocalypse Now Now really kicks off when Baxter’s girlfriend goes missing and is feared to be the latest victim of a serial killer. His reactions and the emotions stirred by this event cause Baxter to question his nature and realise that he is not a heartless manipulator or half the other characteristics he visualises himself to be. From this point on the story takes a more interesting and incredibly enjoyable turn. The narration contains greater depth and the characters become more relatable and on top of this supernatural elements enter the story and work harmoniously with the gritty atmosphere that has been created.
The introduction of the character Jackson Ronin opens up a new world for Baxter and a superbly readable character. Jackson is a foul mouthed, arse kicking and very funny supernatural bounty hunter and Baxter seeks his help to find his missing love. Through Jackson we are introduced to many weird and usually unfriendly supernatural creatures, many of which spawn from African folklore. The pace of the story picks up immensely and there are crazy and exciting scenes such as a shoot-out in a truly depraved brothel and a dangerous and stealthy infiltration of a military base. I grew very fond of Baxter very quickly once the story picked up pace and Jackson’s influence on him is fantastic to read.
The scale and the focus of Baxter’s quest become very different from his initial intentions, with his journey to find his girlfriend becoming more of a spiritual awakening and there are plenty of revelations along the way which help to explain a little of why Baxter is such an unusual boy. All of the revelations and exciting plot twists lead to an incredibly over the top finale which fits really well with the tone and leaves the potential for a second offering of South African supernatural craziness which I now have a strong appetite for.
Apocalypse Now Now grows into an incredibly exciting and fast paced thrill with characters that are a pleasure to read. Despite finding the narration to be slightly hard work at the beginning it had the desired effect of showing the character maturing and becoming much more human and relatable. This is a very unusual tale that likes to shock but also contains plenty of humour and even some touching moments and is overall a really fun read.
Some aspects of this story really reminded me of the brilliant Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman which is well worth a read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human at Amazon.com.
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