Weekly Capsule 33.1 & Book Review: Apocalypse Now Now

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I try to keep a schedule for the book reviews, but the books I read last month are either not interesting enough, or do not lend themselves well to any sartorial interpretation, so the review has to wait until now, when I finally read something that I can talk about (it doesn’t necessarily mean that I like it though – more on that in a minute). And that book is “Apocalypse Now Now” by Charlie Human.

I first heard about this when I learned that the writer of District 9 is adapting it. It’s a YA fantasy novel set in Cape Town and described as “Tarantino meets Gaiman”, so naturally I was interested. The main character, Baxter, is a self-proclaimed teenage Machiavelli, a dealer of pornography and the leader of his gang, the Spider. He is willing to do anything necessary to ensure that the Spider survives the brutal world of high school, but this all changes when his girlfriend, Esme, disappears. Soon Baxter finds himself teaming up with a supernatural bounty hunter, Jackson Ronin, as they make their way through the underworld of Cape Town to bring Esme back and prevent the apocalypse along the way.

I myself have wanted to write an urban fantasy version of the Orpheus myth, so this is right up my alley. The setting is unique, and Baxter promises to be a great anti-hero. However, I was disappointed. The supernatural world is a bit of a mess – I’m not familiar with Afrikaan myths, but here it seems the author just dumps in random elements and adds some sex and violence on top of them. I don’t like Baxter either. He talks a lot about what a manipulative bastard he is and we don’t actually see much of that on display.

What annoys me the most, though, is how Esme is treated. She is a prime example of the “fridged girlfriend” trope – she is harmed to motivate Baxter, and then that storyline (mild spoiler) is hastily and lazily resolved to make way for Baxter’s heroic quest. I don’t mind this trope when it’s done well (Laura in American Gods comes to mind), but Esme is so one-dimensional (her sole defining trait is that she is a klepto, which, OMG, so edgy) and Baxter’s proclamation of love for her is so unconvincing (because what do they have in common?) that it makes me really angry. I mean, it’s the 21st century. There is no excuse to write a female character like that.

2/5 stars, and that’s only because I think it would make a better comic book than a novel.

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As for the outfit, I thought long and hard about how best to interpret the book, and finally settled on something Baxter might wear, like on the book’s covers – the shirt and oxfords are to mimic his school uniform, the jeans are to add some edge, the glasses are obvious, and the necklace is to represent the Knowing Eye, an important plot point. It’s simple, but I like it.

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Shirt: local shop, Jeans: Zara, Oxfords: Vagabond, Necklace: Lia Sophia


One Comment on “Weekly Capsule 33.1 & Book Review: Apocalypse Now Now”

  1. Mike says:

    First off Salazar, I LOVE your glasses! They remind me of mine (which is high time for me to get some new ones). Very cool look. 🙂

    And second, while I am not familiar with this type of story that you described in the book that you read, I do agree about the lack of personality and “realness” of many of the female characters that are portrayed in books these days. I think that they could be better written and shown to be stronger more supporting (and leading) characters and not just have the male characters getting all of the attention.

    Not to take away from your blog posting, but if you want to read about a really strong and well written female character, may I suggest that you read “Dietland” by Sarai Walker? I just finished listening to the audio version of the book a few days ago and it is really good. The story centers around Plum, a young woman that is overweight and desires to be thin. And to accomplish this, she plans on having surgery. Now this might sound anti-climatic as a good portion of the book speaks of her wanting to have the surgery and there’s little chance of her changing her mind about it. But as the story progresses, you see a change in Plum (thanks to a group of other women that she meets and lives with for a time in a sort of women’s shelter). And by the end of the book, while Plum may have started off as being a sort of a one dimensional character, the reader sees her as a strong and confident woman that is not easily shaken or swayed by the banal and stupid insults that people would throw at her in the beginning. It’s the slow and subtle transformation of her that makes the story so alluring. You have to read the book to truly get it and I don’t want to give too much of it away. But if you’re looking an awesome story with an awesome character, then give “Dietland” a try. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

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