THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA
SHAUN DAVID HUTCHINSON
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, Science-Fiction, Contemporary
REPRESENTATION: Bisexual Cuban-American MC, Muslim Middle-Eastern Questioning (Ace-Spec) Side Character, Depressed LI, FF Romance, Other Diverse Background Characters
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Shooting, Kidnapping
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.
Shaun David Hutchinson is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
I loved We Are the Ants last month and The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza didn’t disappoint. Hutchinson has a very distinctive style that I’m not entirely sure how to explain, but which I really like. I’ve got another of his other books sitting on my shelf and I’m keeping an eye on his upcoming release, The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried. The plots always seem to have something completely quirky and weird, while having a very low key, melancholy and bittersweet feel. Like We Are the Ants, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is a high-school set contemporary, but with just enough weirdness to keep me on my toes and appeal to my SFF-loving tendencies.
Elena is a wonderful character: she is funny, and feisty, and facing some really difficult choices. I loved all the relationships in this book. I loved the dedication and commitment between Elena and her mother; the awkward, uncomfortable romance that’s slowly building with Freddie; and I absolutely adored her relationship with both Fadil and Javi. Her friendship with Javi was just that kind of beautifully complicated post-relationship friendship which we don’t get to see enough of in fiction, and her friendship with Fadil was one of my favourite book friendships I’ve seen in a while.
I thought the discussions of the nature of free will were beautiful and nuanced, and that the ending was the perfect choice: uplifting and hesitant and unsure all at once.