Also by this author: Violent Ends
Published by Simon Schuster Audio on February 6th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Audio Book •Source: Overdrive
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.
I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, to tell you the truth, but it certainly wasn’t what I read. The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza took me by surprise, as I suppose any end of the world YA story that starts in a Starbucks would.
Our protagonist, Elena, is immediately established to be ~unique~ as she was the product of a virgin birth, explained by the happening of parthenogenesis, which was cool in theory but I have no idea if it could ever happen in real life to a human, but I just went along with it, because what do English majors know about such things anyway? I thought perhaps the story might have taken a bit of a religious spin with the virgin birth premise, however it almost had more of a sci-fi feel, with Elena discovering her mysterious power to heal after saving a classmate who is shot at Starbucks one day. As you can probably imagine, things spiral a bit out of control from there, with Elena exploring her healing power and the voices telling her she needs to save as many people as she can before the end of the world.
All in all, though there were a lot of elements about this story that were plain ridiculous, at its core I found it interesting and a bit of a tongue in cheek commentary of the popularity of end of the world plots in books/movies/tv, mixed in with those random news stories about miracles or people finding visions of deities in their toast. I like that despite the craziness of the plot Elena never took things too seriously and that she was a remarkably likeable character who’s voice was comfortable to settle into, and despite her virgin birth and ability to perform miracles it never felt like it was being forced on me that she was a special snowflake of a character (which is honestly a pet peeve of mine). I also enjoyed the strong relationships she had with her best friend (in a completely platonic way! Hooray!) and her mom. There was just a lot of positive relationships (and diversity) in this book that never felt forced.
However, where the book did lose my favor was in the fact that it felt like not a whole lot actually HAPPENED. It was mostly just Elena mulling over her strange healing power and its repercussions, and pining after a crush who was honestly not a very nice person to her and so angsty I couldn’t stand it (I was so tired of Freddie being allowed to go off on Elena and call her out on all sorts of stuff and just get away with it because she was a self proclaimed terrible person). After a while I really tired of these conversations that I think were supposed to be deep and meaningful about humans and human behavior and free will and who was worth saving, etc. but it honestly felt abusive after a while and I was 100% over Freddie.
~Mild spoilers ahead~
My number one complaint with this book that was worth knocking probably a whole star off was the lack of closure. The book ends super abruptly and I know personally I spent the whole time waiting for some big reveal about how the world was going to end/if Elena was really hearing voices coming out of Legos and My Little Ponies telling her to save people, or if it was hallucinations, etc. When I read a book about the end of the world I expect to find out about HOW THE WORLD ENDS but nope, it honestly just left everything super open ended and really just felt like a YA contemporary with some good diversity elements but threw in the apocalypse/miracles to make it ~different~ but then didn’t go all the way with the themes, which sort of ruined the whole reading experience for me.
Overall: I enjoyed the narrator of the audio book and liked Elena as a character, but the lack of closure or really any explanation at all in this novel left me frustrated. If you’re looking for another contemporary YA that wants to try to tackles some social issues under a veil of absurdity, this is the right read for you, but I find it to be very anticlimactic.