Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human #review

Title: Apocalypse Now Now
Author: Charlie Human
Publisher: Umuzi, 2013

In Apocalypse Now Now, we discover right from the opening chapter that Baxter Zevcenko is, to put it mildly, not a very nice boy. At the tender age of 16, he is already a porn-peddling kingpin involved with school gangs, and he’s quite unapologetic about his calling in life. In his mind, everything’s perfect. He has enough cash, he’s manipulating others to do what he wants them to, and he has a hot girlfriend, Esmé.

Of course this is where everything starts to go south. It begins with the threat of a serial killer looming, and gets personal when Esmé goes missing, presumed kidnapped by the serial killer. Baxter’s only clue is a mysterious, glowing tooth found in Esmé’s room.

What follows is Baxter’s descent into the Mother City’s supernatural underground. Everything that he thought he knew is overturned. Fortunately, he’s not on his own, as he teams up with a mystical, ex-special forces bounty hunter, Jackson Ronin.

Their quest sees them tangling with elemental spirits and zombies, and Baxter gradually comes to realise that he stands at the centre of an eons-old conflict between a mantis and an octopus god—shades of HP Lovecraft much?

Baxter is not the hero we asked for, but he’s only one who’s going to take the blame for averting an impending apocalypse – a task for which no one will thank him due to what he has to do in order to come out on top.

Apocalypse Now Now is a gritty, action-packed quest that playfully subverts many of the tropes we encounter in popular urban fantasy, from zombies to dwarves, and generous lashings of local flavour when we encounter creatures such as a springbok faun and tokoloshes. It’s easy to see where the “Tarantino meets Neil Gaiman” applies, but I couldn’t quite help thinking of fun films like Men in Black. And, in a similar fashion, Apocalypse Now Now doesn’t take itself too seriously.

With that in mind, if you’re looking for a madcap romp filled with plenty of pop culture references and sometimes dizzying plot reversals, then you’ll likely enjoy sinking your teeth into this one. Though you may want to sit down and catch your breath afterwards. It’s a helluva ride.

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