Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

Shaun David Hutchinson has a way of coming up with concepts that, at first, sound like there’s no way that could work. Then, when you pick the book up, you find a text that has humor, snark, theological conjecture, and a cast that makes you debate morals more than any cast I’ve ever encountered before.

Whether you think it’s possible the world will end or not, buckle up while Elena Mendoza tries to figure out what to do when she’s given the responsibility of saving humanity by a line of guiding objects including the Starbucks siren, Lego Gandalf, and Baby Cthulhu.

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Published: 6 February 2018

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/LGBT+/Sci-Fi

From the critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe comes a mind-bending, riveting novel about a teen who was born to a virgin mother and realizes she has the power to heal—but that power comes at a huge cost.

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.

This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.

Rating: 4 Stars

CW: suicidal ideation/bullying, gun violence

Rep: bisexual Cuban MC, bisexual LI, asexual questioning Muslim Middle Eastern SC

There are a lot of layers to this book and I’m not sure whether this is one that you can really be done thinking about too quickly. There are a lot of questions regarding life and death, consent, belief, and so on. They aren’t necessarily separate topics either, as Elena figures out with the help of her friend Fadil, who helps her by talking about the situation of her healing, the resulting Rapturing, Elena’s voices, etc., from his point of view regarding his religion.

Another interesting facet of The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza actually has to do with the universe in which it takes place. I’ve only read one previous book by Hutchinson (The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley), so I could only pick up on that particular line, but throughout there were Easter eggs from previous works from the author. Elena mentions a boy who hid in a hospital undetected after his family died (Andrew), she meets a boy named Tommy at a bookshop (At the Edge of the Universe, I believe). I’m sure there are more, but there sheer size of Hutchinson’s literary universe makes the books interesting because it puts the events thereof under a new scope when you consider the supernatural events that happen.

Going back to what I said earlier about how this book has layers (then in regards to themes), the characters in this books were pretty rich. No one was just a good person or just a bad guy. Even the people that you might allocate to those roles had moments that could give you pause and make you think about how much of a person we really know, whether we’re the reader in a situation or the main character. Elena figures this out as she searches for answers to many questions, whether it’s to the reasons behind her powers or the motivations behind the actions of people she encounters in her quest.

While you’re reading and enjoyed the aforementioned aspects, also keep an eye out for pertinent political jabs that are at once humorous, truthful, and slightly depressing with regards to the American political arena at the time The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza was published. As someone living in the depths of it, it brought a smile to my face because it wasn’t cheap, but well crafted.

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

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