School is a difficult time in any youngsters life. Social cliques. Gangs. Peer Pressure. And lots and lots of creature porn. Wait, what?
School life is hard. There are academic expectations, new and awkward social interactions, bullies, cliques, gangs, great unknowns, and porn.
Lots and lots of porn.
Or at least it is if you’re attending school with Baxter Zevcenko.
Baxter is your average teenage sociopath. He heads up a clique in his school known as The Spider, and they serve two purposes – to keep a balance of power between the school gangs and to peddle smut to his peers. It’s all working out for Baxter. He’s making plenty of money, he feels in control, and he’s figuring out that his girlfriend Esmé might be the girl he’s meant to be with.
That is until someone kidnaps Esmé, leaving behind some rather odd clues that not only link him to the disappearance, but to a string of killings by the notorious Mountain Killer.
What happens next is a fast-paced blitz through South Africa’s supernatural underworld, as Baxter learns more about the world around him, his family history, and his own identity. It’s a strange blend of Afrikaner mythology, Warren Ellis, and Neil Gaiman, with liberal helpings of sleaze.
In other words, not so clean fun.
Apocalypse Now Now is a good, fast paced adventure incorporating a lot of fantastical elements that those of us in America aren’t going to be familiar with. Unless you’re from South Africa, be prepared to reach for Wikipedia every so often. the book is rooted in myths that may confound those in the Western Hemisphere. Tokoloshe, Sieners, and Obambe are all a part of the culture of the Hidden Ones that lay beneath the surface of modern life. You’ll find others too – imports from other cultures such as dwarves, zombies and the Anasazi. All of them butt heads, form alliances and make the story as weird as it can be – and that’s before figuring in the giant manits and octopus gods (only one of which in context is in actual mythology – launch on a voyage of discovery!), and the murderous Crows.
At times, the weirdness can push in a little too hard to make a lot of sense – mostly on account of the culture being unfamiliar for me as an American (which is my fault – not the author’s). But at other times it’s able to just carry you along effortlessly, as the book has placed you in a lazy river full of blood and god juice (don’t make me get more specific). The prose is easy to cut into, and the characters are memorable (Ronin for the win). For a freshman effort, this is very readable, and engaging.
Ultimately, if you’ve ever thought that it would be amazing to be a young shaman, and that you wanted to have supernatural adventures, but felt that Hogwarts just didn’t have enough porn, underground bondage clubs, shady government facilities, or the occasional need to threaten people with shotguns… well, Charlie Human’s work may be in order.
Apocalypse Now Now, written by Charlie Human, is published by Titan Books. It is available now. RRP: $14.95. Materials for this review were provided by Titan Books.