Cover of The Apocalyse of Elena Mendoza. Closeup of a Carosel horse

About the Book

Title: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
Published: 2019

Cover Story: What Am I Looking At?
Drinking Buddy: Possibly
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexuality)
Talky Talk: Missing Something
Bonus Factor: Prophet
Bromance Status: Holy Book

Cover Story: What Am I Looking At?

I had to ask my wife to remind me what a carousel had to do with the story. There was a merry-go-round scene in the book, but a small one. There were other things that could have been on the cover, though the title is a winner.

The Deal:

Elena Mendoza’s mother was a virgin. Everyone likes to believe that about their mom, but in Elena’s case it’s actually true. Her birth was a unique example of a fatherless conception. Not unheard of in the animal world, but never among humans. This has been medically proven, and boy do her classmates have a ball with this, calling her ‘Mary’ and other original names. Elena’s mother is now married to Sean, who has been looking for work for about ten years. If it wasn’t for her twin half-siblings, Elena would wish he never existed.

Elena has an obnoxious ex-boyfriend, Javier; one good friend, Fadil; and a helpless crush on Freddie, a tough, artsy girl who doesn’t know she’s alive. And she hears voices. Not disembodied ones, but voices from things that shouldn’t speak, like the Starbucks mermaid, My Pretty Pony toys, or a baby Cthulhu plushie. She worries about her mental health, but the voices all seem so real.

Then, as Elena works a shift at Starbucks, trying to get up the nerve to approach Freddie’s table, a boy named David walks in. And pulls out a gun and shoots Freddie. Acting on the direction of the corporate logo, Elena heals Freddie. The bullet wound closes. And David vanishes in a flash of light.

Elean becomes a celebrity of sorts. While Freddie’s lack of an injury makes most people see the miracle as a scam, others see her as a savior, one who can cure their illnesses or their sick family members. Shadowy government agents take an interest in her. Her stepfather Sean looks for a way to exploit all this. Fadil worries about her safety. Javier wants to hook up again. And Freddie…still doesn’t want anything to do with her.

To make matters worse, Elena realizes that every time she heals someone, people vanish. They’re raptured, for lack of a better word. The voices keep encouraging her to continue healing people, in spite of the disappearances. The voices never explain who they are or what the greater plan is, only mentioning that Elena is an unworthy vessel they’re forced to work through.

Is Elena the new messiah? Or is she the pawn in a bigger game?

Drinking Buddy: Possibly

Two pints of beer cheersing

Elena certainly does a good job of playing the unwilling miracle worker. After performing a couple of instant healings, she finds herself surrounded by people who want their deathly ill loved ones fixed, as well as people who want to be cured of anything from drug addiction to acne to homosexuality.

Now if I were offered this godlike power, I’d head straight to the children’s hospital and ask where the cancer ward was. Except it’s not that simple for Elena. With every miracle she performs, people vanish. Like, hundreds of people. And there’s no guarantee they’re going somewhere good. The voices are rude and evasive, claiming that not curing people will doom the world, but never explaining why.

What’s a prophet to do?

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexuality)

Yes, it’s an end of the world book, so there’s a lot of unmarked government vans, wisecracking dolls, and conniving, behind-the-scenes powerful people. But that’s not where the smolder lays.

When Elena saves her life, Freddie notices her for the first time. And in nearly every LGBTQ YA book I’ve read, when the two heroines or heroes finally meet, there’s sparks, there’s fireworks, there’s smolder. Whatever problems there are come from the outside.

Not in this case. Freddie is not thankful that Elena saved her. In fact, Freddie darkly hints that she would have been happier if she hadn’t. Elena was guilty of imagining Freddie as this far out, radical artist and social justice warrior, her own manic pixie dream girl. The real Freddie is sullen, angry, scared, with a father who killed himself. She’s not at all impressed with Elena.

But as time goes on, Elena realizes that the real Freddie is someone worth fighting for, for friendship’s sake if nothing else. And perhaps Freddie isn’t as hard edged as she wants Elena to think. Maybe there’s hope for this pair, maybe not. I liked this portrayal of an LGBTQ romance that’s just as complicated as any other.

Talky Talk: Missing Something

Now you have to love a book with a talking Cthulhu doll, an elder god with all the intimidation of a puppy barking at a stranger. This book had a lot of laughs and a lot of tense moments. The author, Shaun David Hutchinson, put a bit of himself into the book, with characters named Sean and David, and a reference to another one of his books (see below). And he took time to make fun of Donald Trump. That always brings a smile to my face.

The character of Javier, Elena’s ex-boyfriend, gave me mixed feelings. Elena dumped him because he was pressuring her to have sex, then told everyone they’d done it after she broke up with him. When she needs information from him, he badgers her into another ‘date.’ He’s the type of character I’d expect to be struck by a righteous bolt of lightning.

But Elena seems to get off on having him around, if for no other reason than she can insult him to his face. And Javier takes it. He’s grown up a little and, and while still immature and obnoxious, he honestly does want to make things right with Elena. Not a great teenage boy character, but a realistic one.

All that being said, the ending kind of left me unsatisfied. There was resolution, but it was vague enough to leave me wondering, and not in a good way. I want to know what’s in that sugar bowl, Lemony Snicket. I want to know what the thorn in Paul’s side was. I want to see behind the curtain.

Bonus Factor: Prophet

"Bob" Dobbs

So Elena was born of a virgin and can heal the sick. She hears mysterious voices who claim she’s mankind’s only hope. Who does that remind you of?

The thing is, Elena isn’t an especially spiritual person. Her religious grandparents kicked her mother out of the house when she got pregnant as a teen. And now there’s a lot of people who think she’s a prophet, or even something greater. How does a high school student and Starbucks barista deal with this?

Bromance Status: Holy Book

Like most holy books, this dragged in parts and was sometimes confusing, but ultimately uplifting and entertaining.

Literary Matchmaking


Another silly book featuring the Cthulhu mythos.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor the secrets of the universe for writing this review of this library book.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.