I’m not going to lie: When it came to my initial interest in Apocalypse Now Now, it was solely predicated on judging a book by its cover.
Vibrant, colourful, exciting, it exuded a punk rock edge that seemed to have the vibe of an indie graphic novel rather than a straight book, practically leaping off the shelf and slapping me in the face.
Picking it up, I turned to the back to read the blurb and was inundated with enough of a mixture of pop culture, supernatural and teenage drama, set against the promise of an apocalypse to fully capture my imagination.
The easiest way that I’ve been describing Apocalypse Now Now to my friends is thus:
Imagine if Harry Potter was a completely narcissistic [extreme expletive deleted] in charge of a successful underground porn business at his school. Now imagine if his world was turned upside down after discovering that all the urban myths and legends were true; all this in a modern day Cape Town, South Africa, on the brink of the apocalypse.
Needless to say, that got more than a few of them interested in the wacky, downward spiralling life that belongs to Baxter Zevcenko, and rightfully so.
Charlie Human’s style is easy to read, with random popular cultural references sprinkled throughout the entire book, all adding up to a thrill ride of maniac anarchy. Alternate dimensions, legacy/destiny themes and even a quick WWE reference all carry the cavalcade of main and supporting characters along its torrent of madness.
As Baxter’s girlfriend, Esme, is kidnapped, it comes down to him to do all he can in order to track her down, even if it means enrolling the help of a possibly psychotic red headed, big bearded, supernatural bounty hunter named ‘Jackie’ Ronin. It’s a difficult task, to ask a reader to feel for an openly sociopathic protagonist, but the growth he goes through during the course of the story will have you readily in #teambaxter’s corner throughout.
There are a couple of story elements that may seem a bit too coincidental, with loose ends tied up a bit too easily by the end and particular characters being relegated to either one, undeveloped, dimension, or existing as a stereotype, but it never takes away from the drive of the story or its awesome pacing.
Apocalypse Now Now revels in its anarchic, punk rock-ness, and it’s all the better for it. Had it been filtered or edited in order to appeal to a more commercial or ‘mainstream’ audience it would felt castrated, having lost the very core of what makes it so appealing. The cover of the novel, rather than being a cool distraction or gimmick for the book instead coincides with the themes and vibes it portrays and does what it needs to do: teasing the book whilst grabbing a curious passer by’s attention, and refusing to let go.
With a sequel (Kill Baxter) having been recently released, things are looking good for the future of Charlie Human’s screwed up, supernatural, South Africa, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he’ll take it next.
With a book so fun, written in a unique voice with a vision so clear and, seemingly, undiluted, Charlie Human has motivated me even further to finally finish Temporary, and, perhaps, someday I’ll have the opportunity to entertain him in the way Apocalypse Now Now has entertained me.
Steve Russell // @stevetendo