Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: Apocalypticon by Clayton Smith (#NaBloPoMo)

I have started a running list of popular characters that I hate. These are characters that I think would wear on my nerves quickly and should not be allowed to be friends with people until they learn how to get their shit together. On this list is one Shawn Spencer from the USA network show Psych. The show is about a man who grew up training his observation skills because his police officer father is obsessive about that sort of thing. Shawn is an asshole, to be honest. He is generally unconcerned about how his immature, reckless behavior put people in danger and messes up their lives. His best friend, Gus, played by the wonderful Dule Hill, is the usual victim of his assholery. Shawn steals from him, puts his job and life in jeopardy in almost every episode and just basically manipulates Gus at every turn. Now, I'm not saying that Gus is blameless. He loves the adventure and is loyal to his friend. I'm also not saying that Shawn doesn't have his charms.

Apocalypticon is Shawn and Gus three years after the Jamaicans release a biological weapon that wipes out most of the population of the U.S. They decide to trek from Chicago down to Disney World on an adventurous quest. Shawn, I mean Patrick, doesn't tell Gus, I mean Ben, exactly why they need to go, but they set off. On the way, they are told they will face great peril, and they do. They narrowly escape death a few times though booze is easy to come by. Remember The Walking Dead tagline: Kill the Dead, Fear the Living? It holds true in this world, too, though also true is that friendship and companionship will help get you through the roughest patches. 

Apocalypticon is a funny take on a serious condition. The story itself started off a little campy (maybe that's not the right word, but there's a ridiculous scene with fake drugs that made me roll my eyes) but gets better. Patrick is basically a good person, struggling with his own stuff (it is the apoc after all) and becoming a better friend over the course of the book. He was likely always a good friend, it's just hard to see underneath the crappy person exterior. Ben, too, sticks by his friend's nuttiness but develops a bit more backbone. The characters talk a lot of shit about a lot of things. [Although the negative comments about Arkansas are clearly not funny, Mr. Smith.] They get into trouble and look out for each other. And they help each other deal with the shit they have to deal with.
Each group of people they meet is really an example of different ways that groups of people might adjust to the hell they live in. But seriously, there's only so many times one person can be hit in the face with a hammer, bat, or wrench, and keep on keeping on, amIright?

I also consider this cover porn. Great concept. Love it. Solid four out of 5 stars. I LOL'd a few, undisclosed number of times. 

I met the author of this book, Clayton Smith, at Book Riot Live 2015 (yes, I'm still talking about it, get off my back!) last weekend. He and two of his author buddies had this little schtick. It might not have been a schtick. But basically, rather than telling me about their own books, they took turns telling me about each other's books. I can't guarantee you that they actually read each other's books. But I can guarantee you that the energy and enthusiasm they had for each other was real and I bought a book from each of them. Mr. Smith thinks he's funny. And he is, though I've been tweeting him comments to the contrary to help keep his ego in check.

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