Weekly Capsule 33.1 & Book Review: Apocalypse Now NowPosted: August 18, 2015 | |
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.
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.
Shirt: local shop, Jeans: Zara, Oxfords: Vagabond, Necklace: Lia Sophia