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The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza

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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.

438 pages, Hardcover

First published February 6, 2018

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About the author

Shaun David Hutchinson

25 books4,570 followers
Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of many queer books for young adults. Find out more information at shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in Seattle and watches way too much Doctor Who.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 761 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
December 3, 2019
sometimes I think about the fact that this book referenced the name game meme from like two years ago and it was actually funny and then I wonder how the fuck this isn’t an NYT bestseller

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is like nothing I have ever read before or will ever read again. It is an existential and oddly hilarious book about choices, with a wide cast of amazing characters and some weird mystery thrown in. And I loved it so much. I could have read this forever over and over again.

This book follows... Elena Mendoza... and she causes an apocalypse is gifted the power to heal people by an unknown entity.
✔Elena is a fucking master of sassing people, has a tendency to take her friends for granted, and is so utterly lovable and relatable. Her motivation to absolve herself - to feel as if she has done everything she needs to do - is written with so much realism and empathy.
✔Freddie is a depressed cynic and a horrible driver who believes nothing is connected. Her arc involves her struggle with who she was before the shooting – is she different now? Did she deserve to be saved?
✔Fadil is Elena’s rational and awesome ace best friend. He’s religious, but also not willing to give up logic or rationale, which I feel like I never see in literature? If y’all are looking for a non-negative but also-not-the-focus representation of religion – specifically Islam! – please read this.

Something I like about Shaun David Hutchinson books is that every character is dimensional. Elena, Freddie, and Fadil, of course, but even the characters in here that I disliked managed to feel like fully dimensional people.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this romance! If you know me, you know I am 1) picky about romance, and 2) really really good at getting invested when I like both the characters. These were both true here, and with a really great discussion about crushes present as well:
“The way I saw it, there were only two ways to get over my crush. Either I realized she was a horrible person not worth my time or I got to know the real Winifred Petrine and built new feelings for her on a solid, honest foundation. Of course, there existed a very real possibility that Freddie would never share my feelings. But friendship with someone you like isn't a second-place trophy; it's a win all on its own.”

And I loved the dynamic between Elena and Freddie so much. I want an entire book about them sort of talking through hard issues via anger / sort of flirting as they do an immense amount throughout this book. Or I could just reread this?

As is usual for Shaun David Hutchinson, who is Gay and Weird and I relate, this is an extremely weird book plot-wise. I mean, you have a miracle performed on a crush, strange lights stealing a person, and talking starbucks mermaid - and that’s literally just in the first 5%. And it is... so hilarious. There is a lot of what some Christians might consider sacrilege [yeah, sorry], but I actually found this element sort of delightfully snarky. Listen, talking unicorns making horrible jokes about Jesus while a sixteen-year-old girl becomes increasingly annoyed is basically my entire sense of humor.

This book is about a Lot Of Things– existential fear, the realization that no one is who you think they are, the realization that death is never in our souls, the importance of making choices, and most of all, the importance of free will. All of those topics are handled in a way I found super compelling, and I think that’s what made this book worth reading to me – it’s a very funny book hiding a whole lot of serious discussions.

Bonus points for thinly veiled jokes about U.S. President Cheeto. And an-honest-god-I-am-not-joking-about-this reference to that Name Game meme from three years ago. 

But listen, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza was such an amazing reading experience for me. I wish this book would never have ended and I want to reread it again and again.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
January 13, 2018
"What is going on?"
"Maybe nothing," I said. "Maybe the end of the world. I'll let you know when I figure it out."

I'm on the fence about The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. It has many great individual components, but when looking back over the novel as a whole, I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as Hutchinson's We Are the Ants, which was one of my favourite reads of 2016.

Having only read two of his books, I cannot say for certain, but I get the impression that Hutchinson likes to write somewhat bizarre sci-fi/fantasy concepts and set them within a realistic, contemporary world. At times in The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, it's more than a little odd. While I enjoyed the moral and philosophical discussions that grew out of the story, I found some aspects ridiculous.

To give a little background first, Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth. The author actually offers a scientific explanation for this - parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction - which shouldn't be possible in humans, but Elena's mother turns out to be an exception to the rule. That's weird, but things get way weirder when Elena witnesses a shooting at Starbucks, heals the victim (her crush, a girl called Freddie), and makes the shooter disappear. Armed with new supernatural powers, Elena must decide whether to play God or risk the survival of all humanity.

As I said, I liked the discussions about free will and personal responsibility, but I found the whole thing a little strange and forcibly quirky when inanimate objects such as a Lego Gandalf and the Starbucks logo start talking to Elena and instructing her on what she must do. I was hitting my limit on the suspension of disbelief.

But, really, my main issue was how this long book (for YA at least) has very little story for the most part. I felt like there was a huge slow chunk in the middle taken up with repetitive introspection, the slowly-developing romance between Elena and Freddie, and general everyday life and its dull discussions.

Elena moves through a cycle of healing people, hanging out with her best friend Fadil, questioning whether what she is doing is right, chatting with Freddie, healing some more people, blah blah... all for it to reach a fairly obvious conclusion that gives us no answers. Do not expect to have the science/fantasy aspects explained. Many loose ends are left, big and small.

I suppose it is mainly a slow, character-driven story, where the supernatural elements are just quirks to liven up the backdrop and offer topics for discussion. And discussion there is indeed a lot of.

Great bisexual rep, general diversity among the characters without it ever giving off a "checklist" feel, and allusions to Donald Trump being a dumbass are some other notable strengths.

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Profile Image for Larry H.
2,440 reviews29.4k followers
February 17, 2018
Shaun David Hutchinson's The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza may be one of the craziest, most thought-provoking books I've read in some time, if not ever. It's wild, poignant, forces you to suspend your disbelief, and some may even think it's sacrilegious or blasphemous, but it definitely cements Hutchinson as one of the best YA authors out there right now, one who combines science, emotion, and life's daily struggles to tremendous effect.

"The apocalypse began at Starbucks. Where else did you expect the end of the world to start?"

Elena Mendoza is used to being an outcast. She is the product of a virgin birth (seriously)—but she wasn't born in a barn or at the beach at sunrise. Her mother was a teenager, banished by her parents because they believed she was lying about getting pregnant. But the truth is, Elena was the product of parthenogenesis, a process where an offspring is born from an unfertilized egg. It was more common in the insect world, but she was the first child created this way.

No one has taken the time to find out the truth, though; instead, they ridicule her, calling her "Mary" (which technically isn't even correct), and treating her like a freak. She doesn't have a lot of friends—in fact, she spends most of her time either working at Starbucks or with her best friend, Fadil—but she doesn't really care.

Elena also has a wicked crush on Winifred "Freddie" Petrine, even though she is part of the crowd that makes fun of her. When Freddie comes into Elena's Starbucks one day, she can't stop staring, until even the siren on the Starbucks cups tells her to say something to Freddie. But when Elena goes to approach Freddie, a boy from their high school pulls out a gun and shoots Freddie, and the next thing you know, Elena is healing her gunshot wound, seconds before the shooter disappears into a beam of light in the clouds.

So now Elena can heal people. But with that power comes a downside—well, many of them—in that every time Elena heals someone, more people disappear for no reason. The voices keep telling her she can save the world, but is that true, or is she actually condemning innocent people to disappear, affecting their families and friends, for no reason except to help someone else? And when Freddie tells her she wishes she didn't save her, what does that mean?

"It also hadn't stopped me from wondering if I might actually be special or from dreaming that my miraculous birth meant I had a destiny that would one day be revealed. I longed to fit in, to discover whether I was playing a lead role in the grand cosmic drama or merely a bit part with no lines. My miraculous birth and the voices had, for years, fueled my convictions that I had a purpose—that I would lead a significant life—and all I'd wanted was for someone to notice me."

As the voices continue to pressure her, Elena struggles with her abilities and whether she should do anything. But she also struggles with love, friendship, family, responsibility, and trying to figure out why the boy would shoot Freddie in the first place. This is a book built on a crazy concept, but it's one with tremendous heart, and it makes you think about what you would do in a similar situation. Who are we to decide who lives and who dies? But can we be content if we do nothing at all?

Hutchinson is an amazing writer. His characters are tremendously vivid and complex, and not just the main characters, either. Some of the supporting characters are fascinating as well, and although I'm glad they didn't distract from the main story, it would have been great to get to know some of them better. While this book didn't leave me as emotionally wrecked as his amazing We Are the Ants (see my review) or last year's At the Edge of the Universe (see my review), it has a beauty and a power all its own.

Clearly, this isn't a book for everyone. But don't discount it as simply folly, because it's so much more than that. This is a book that tackles depression, bullying, family dysfunction, discrimination, friendship, jealousy, love, sexuality—yet it never hits you over the head. I'd love to sit down at a table with Hutchinson and learn what makes him tick, because his mind is a fascinating thing.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
653 reviews3,841 followers
March 12, 2018
"What is going on?
"Maybe nothing" I said. "Maybe the end of the world. I'll let you know when I figure it out"

so I'm finally reviewing this book. And Honestly? I can't remember the last time I felt so indecisive about a book - because I really wanted to love this and yet the more I think about it the more I don't think I do. This review is going to be hard to write.

The thing is, this book is by no means bad. Shaun David Hutchinson is such an excellent writer and I constantly value the perfect mix of quirky, philosophical and sci-fi elements that permeate his books.

And yet the whole time reading this I thought well I don't like it as much as his other books. It's an observation I feel bad about - because I kind of think comparing an authors work to their other works constantly is a bit unfair. But at the same time, I KNOW what it feels like to really love one of his books and this wasn't it.

About halfway through I thought - "this doesn't feel as authentic and raw and honest as his other book. I feel like something is missing" I don't know if that was because it wasn't ownvoices like his other works, or something else completely, but I couldn't stop thinking about it.

So, essentially what this book is about is a girl called Elena Mendoza who one day gets the miraculous power to heal people of ailments. First she heals her crush, Freddie, from a gunshot wound - and then she amps things up from there. But, everytime she heals someone, the cost is that people across the world are raptured at random. This book follows Elena as she tries to decide if healing people is worth the rapturing, and also explored her crush on Freddie, another girl at school.

One thing I KNOW I didn't engage with much was the characters. I couldn't find myself falling in love with any character - which is a big problem in a character driven book. I felt like Elena, Freddie and Fadil especially were characters I could have loved, but something wasn't working. I never found myself able to engage with these characters fully and I don't really have any strong feelings about them, which is such a shame. I think this became especially apparent when characters from Hutchinson's other books appeared and my heart LEAPT, and I thought - oh I wish I felt that way about these characters. Fadil was my favourite and he was in it ENTIRELY NOT ENOUGH.

Coming into characters, the romance didn't work for me. I understand it was supposed to be about discovering the real person behind the idealised facade that we create of people, but I think Freddie and Elena never really had the right chemistry. They spent so long being mean to eachother and while I didn't dislike the romance I also didn't feel particularly strongly about it, which is a shame. I also think some of the side characters were undeveloped, especially Freddie's friend who was just essentially the 'mean girl' character.

On the upside of characters - I think the exploration of sexuality was well done. Starting with Elena, I liked the strong bisexual representation. It was cool to have a bi character who's out to everyone and uses the label bi and doesn't have a huge "the inner struggle" theme. I really liked the bi rep. I also really liked the questioning asexual representation for Fadil. Questioning rep is so important and I liked how labels and things were discussed, but ultimately it was questioning rep which is so important.

sometimes we lose our way and can't separate the mystery from the misery, and when that happens, sometimes we make bad choices. Horrible choices that ripple through the lives of everyone involved.

But like I said Hutchinson is an excellent author and there is some really good things in this book. Primarily, it is about choices, and decisions, and which are wrong and right. The characters grapple with so many massive questions and the philosophical underpinnings of this book are really interesting. I think Shaun David Hutchinson did a wonderful job at presenting his themes and ideas and exploring them with nuance and care. If you're interested in a YA book that explores the choices teenagers have to make, as well as the choices life forces us to make, I think you'd like this. Hutchinson explores how powerful choices can be, and the consequences of giving and taking those choices and this was INTERESTING, it just wasn't enough to carry the whole book for me.

Overall I think this is a good book ! I do ! Some elements just didn't work for me much :( But I love how representative and diverse and interesting this book is, and I love that it forefronts so many issues never really explored in YA. It's definitely a unique, quirky book. And I can appreciate that it took a solid dig at a certain American Presidential Cheeto. I think if I'd liked the characters more I definitely would have loved this book! For me the elements didn't all come together but I still highly recommend this book because it's great? And SO well thought out. It just wasn't a complete OMGLOVE book for me

thankyou to the publisher for sending me an arc in exchange for my honest review !



Elena (mc): Bisexual & Cuban
Fadil: Muslim and 'middle eastern' and also possibly on ace spectrum (he discusses if the label fits him but doesn't settle on anything)
Freddie: Bisexual

Minor characters:
Indian side character
mentioned trans character
minor f/f relationship & lesbian/bi characters
gay male & m/m relationship
character with cystic fibrosis

drug use tw:
There is a small scene which didn't exactly sit well with me - a character gives another pot brownies without the character knowing they're pot brownies, I think this may be potentially triggering so I'm mentioning it.

deadnaming tw:
the main character deadnames a trans member of the school halfway through the book

tw: shooting, drug use, homophobia/biphobia, deadnaming of a trans character
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
April 24, 2018
“That’s the problem with living in a world where everyone was assumed to be heterosexual until proven otherwise.”

This is my fourth novel by Shaun David Hutchinson. A few months ago I read Feral Youth and it must have been a year or even two since I first picked up The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, which made me want to read all the Hutchinson books that exist. But it was We Are the Ants that really took my breath away. If you loved Shaun's earlier books, you will love Elena Mendoza just as much.

Reading a Hutchinson book will guarantee you two things: 1. Queer kids 2. Weird shit.
Usually, there is a third one (3. Tears.) but while this main character's life isn't always peaches she leads a happy life with a close best friend and a loving and supportive family (apart from her dickish stepdad, that is). This means that The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza wasn't as heartbreaking and tragic as We Are the Ants and Andrew Brawley. However, Shaun's stories often talk mental health and depression in an honest and fearless way, and this novel doesn't fail to do so either. Many teenagers and especially queer teenagers struggle with mental health issues and I believe that these books could make them feel heard and understood, especially because Shaun comes from a similar place. Right now he is working on a memoir for teens that will focus on his personal struggles with depression and suicide. It's called Brave Face and will be released in 2019.

Back to Elena Mendoza. Elena is bisexual and what is best is that no one questions her sexuality. No one bullies her or shows signs of biphobia. This is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book. I doubt that we will ever see this happen in real life, but reading about it already makes me feel better about our own world. And to be honest, Elena has more important things going on that being stigmatised and reduced to whom she loves. For once, she hears voices. And she can heal people. And the voices tell her that the world will end and she has to save mankind. But every time she heals someone countless people vanish into thin air all around the world, never to be seen again. (I told you it's weird.)

I also loved the cameos of characters from Shaun's earlier novels. You might not notice this, especially if this is your first Hutchinson, but I love when we get to see a glimpse of what happened to these main characters after their own novel. The only thing I could criticise is the world-building. Creating a story where the fate of the world is in the hands of a single teenager puts you in front of quite a few challenges. One of them is how to make it believable. There are so many factors that need to be addressed that it is nearly impossible to mention all of them in a single novel. If the world is ending because of tsunamis and earthquakes, how come Elena and her environment seem to be unaffected by the horrors that unfold all over the world? What about food shortages or bulk buying? And if people know that Elena can heal people, how aren't there hundreds of them camping in front of her house, claiming she is the messiah or an evil demon? What I want to point out is that the apocalypse is too big to think of every single aspect that might be affected by it.

What is left to say? I am a huge fan of Shaun's writing, characters and dialogues. There is depth, a well-plotted story and empowering advice for teens (and adults, too). And overall it's a captivating and exceptional read.

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Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,315 followers
January 28, 2018
I’m falling asleep and I have to be at work at 5 am tomorrow, so I’ll come back and write a very intensive review later!

Update 1/28/18:

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza has all the pieces that should make up a book I would love. It is by Shaun David Hutchinson, the author of one of my favorite books of all time. It's about Elena, a bisexual Cuban girl, dealing with huge philosophical choices. There's a f/f romance, and a Muslim side character who is figuring out whether or not he might fall on the ace/aro spectrum. And yet, with all of this, I just couldn't fall in love with it.

Here's what I will say about how SDH writes: his books are introspective, philosophical, and they don't give you an easy answer. Things are not tied up in a bow, and choices are not made simple. These are the things that made me love We Are the Ants as much as I did. His books value character over plot, and that is absolutely true of this book as well. A lot of the middle is just centered on Elena asking questions about herself, others, and the universe, which is actually a feature I liked a lot. I love internal narratives, and I like introspective characters. But where I think this failed is that I don't feel like I knew any of the characters well enough to be interested in their introspection.

This book is over 400 pages long, which is lengthy for a character-centric story, but in all that time I never really felt like I had fallen in love with any character. Not Fadil, the best friend who I think could have used more page time. Not Freddie, the love interest, who spent so much time being mean to Elena that I couldn't really get invested in their romantic relationship. Not Elena's family, who seemed fleeting and forgetful. And, most disappointing of all, not even Elena. Despite the fact that the stakes couldn't possibly have been higher, I never felt the urgency or response from her that I so desperately wanted.

I was also really frustrated with a character named Javi, Elena's ex-boyfriend. For the entire book (even after he got some character development) he has this real sense of entitlement to Elena, despite the fact that she repeatedly tells him to leave her alone and that she has no romantic interest in him. This never goes away, and I was somewhat uncomfortable with that.

This did still have some stuff I loved. SDH is a good writer. He knows how to write a line that is succinct but so powerful, and even though I wasn't connecting to the characters, I was constantly marking passages that I wanted to remember. Also, the conclusion to the book was supremely satisfying. It was exactly what I was looking for, a perfect combination of character development and exploration of universal issues. I loved how it talked about choice, consequences, and consent.

And, of course, I have to talk about how much I appreciated the rep in this book, and I think it was all handled incredibly well. Elena is openly bisexual, out to her friends, her family, and her school. Her sexuality is a part of her, enough that she uses the words "bisexual" and "bi" multiple times throughout. Also, I loved the little bit of conversation we got about Fadil possibly being ace/aro. Seeing those words used in a YA book in a conversation centered on sexuality was so wonderful.

I wish I could have cared about the characters in this book. I wanted to be invested in their lives and their decisions, but in over 400 pages worth of story I just never felt like my heart was in it until the very last chapter. I think there's a lot to love in this book, and I think a lot of people are going to love it - and rightfully so, let's get SDH more appreciated please, but for me this book didn't hit the mark.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,425 reviews9,009 followers
March 14, 2022
**3.5-stars rounded up**

Elena Mendoza is literally a miracle.

She's the product of parthenogenesis, otherwise known as a virgin birth. Due to this, Elena's life has been nothing but unique from the very start.

As you can imagine, this biological anomaly made headlines and thus, made Elena low-key famous.

She does her best to just live her life, ignoring the chatter around her, but it hasn't always been easy.

Elena has never really fit in and although she has some close relationships, she's far from one of the popular kids.

When the girl she has a crush on, Freddie, comes close to losing her life, right in front of Elena's eyes, Elena discovers she has an ability to heal. A power she never realized she had.

However, that power comes at a price.

Every time she heals someone, a random number of other people disappear, sucked up by a bright light; raptured, if you will.

Through Elena's own musings, as well as her conversations with certain inanimate objects, we begin to slowly understand the reality of her situation.

Somehow, she needs to save the world. The future of humanity rests on her shoulders, or does it?

This was a very good story. Wildly creative and although the content may seem over the top, there are some incredibly important topics to be found within these pages.

Examining complex relationships, as well as the power of free will and identity, this made an impact.

There's no doubt, if you are looking for a Queer story to make you think about life and the choices we make, Shaun David Hutchinson is a good way to go.

This was completely unique and stole my heart in an oddly compelling way!

I'm so happy my random number generator selected this book for me to read off of my enormous TBR list.

Who knows how long it would have actually taken me to get to it otherwise!? I really enjoyed my time with this.
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews252 followers
February 12, 2018
I think the best thing to do is to go into this book not really knowing much about it. Definitely five stars!
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 13 books10.1k followers
February 14, 2018
I'll always support fiction that gives baby Cthulu a voice. On a humor level Shaun just gets me, or I get Shaun, or there is no getting but his work makes me laugh enough to keep coming back to it. I'm getting off track. The Apocalypse begins at Starbucks and the story of Elena Mendoza begins with one of the best opening lines I have read in a while.

After saving her crush from a shooting on a Starbucks patio (it's not a spoiler that much is given away in the description) Elena is handed the impossible responsibility of helping the voices in her head orchestrate the Apocalypse. All in all, it sounds like the average 16 year old girl drama. Who hasn't been tasked with a rapture or two?

This is my second Hutchinson book (the first being We Are the Ants) and what I have enjoyed about both of them is even though romance is weaved into the plot to some degree, it doesnt overpower the story. Elena's romantic pursuit of Freddie doesn't outweigh the end of the world (thank god) much like how Henry Denton's relationship with Diego never distracted us from the red button.

Something I loved

Something I didn't love (and it's not even a big deal)
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,576 followers
June 10, 2017
Super interesting concept and story, that I devoured in a few short hours. It gives the reader so much to think about, in terms of life and death, the state of our world, and love. I'll simply say that I underlined a lot of passages in this one that I will hopefully reflect back on. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, was that I found it dragged a bit in the middle, and at times was a little repetitive. But all in all, a solid book that will really make you think and question the world. Also, if you've read any of Shaun David Hutchinson's other novels, you'll spot some Easter eggs hidden in this one, which were so fun to discover!
Profile Image for ellie.
539 reviews166 followers
October 27, 2019
a book featuring a melodramatic, self-hating, confused bi young girl who wants to die... can't believe my life has been plagiarized like this!

So this book took me completely by surprise. This is my first Shaun David Hutchinson, so my expectations were very low (I had no idea what to expect, really) so I guess the reason I enjoyed it so much was the reason this deserves those 5 stars. I'm a big believer that the reading experience is as important as any story. Because the writing can be completely magical and intricate but still make you feel nothing. I mean, you're going to admire the pretty flowers, but unless you have some emotional connection to them, you're just going to throw them away when they've withered (aka, drifted into that space in your mind where you stop remembering specific details about it).

I love how Elena Mendoza is written. She's incredibly herself. I know this sounds kind of circular logic, but stay with me. Her voice feels like an actual person narrating the things that have been happening to her. She kind of talks about all these things that happen that are out of control, and she has to deal with it. She's constantly torn, confused, (see before: melodramatic) and pulled in all these different ways by her friends, school, family, and aliens (did I mention there are aliens?).

But she tries to stay afloat. She tries to make decisions, messes up, tries again. She doesn't know how to save the world, so she makes the decision that seems the most reasonable to her. She finds another way. Basically, she's a survivor. And I wanna say, to every person who's experienced or currently experiencing adolescence, you just have to survive. You sometimes let yourself be pulled in these directions when you're a teenager and think you have to go through everything life throws at you. And I think one of the ways you can tell you're maturing is when you realize that you don't have to. When you cut off the things that will never be important as your happiness and the people you love. That's what Elena does. She kind of becomes a miracle herself. A name you want to know and learn from.

So that's what I loved the book. I also loved the relationship she had with her mother, the focus on friendship, proving that boys and girls can actually be just friends, the humor, the love interest, the actual way she dealt with her having these new powers (by not dealing with them at all. same, girl, same. i, too, would drive myself insane with all these different thoughts about how to deal with them but never act on any because of a crippling fear of the unknown. SAME.). i just loved elena mendoza. it's a bit on the longer side, and it did feel a little bit too long at times, but we got there in the end. I love what she decided to do at the end. and who she decided to be. She decided to be Elena Mendoza, not Elena Mendoza Miracle-Healer Who Is Also Born Of a Virgin Birth.

P.S. i lov the existentialism hints throughout the book, that's legendary. also, the ex bf is really annoying and i know he gets better but like. geez. why does he exist
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,038 followers
June 28, 2018
This was probably one of the weirdest books I've ever read.

The first thing I need to get off my chest is the GLARING similarity this book has to the game Life is Strange. I usually ignore when things have minor similarities here and there, but this book had so much that was eerily similar to LiS to the point where I couldn't brush it aside. It was too uncanny at parts, especially in the beginning. Let me explain for those of you who have never played or seen a playthrough of LiS. (You should, btw. Great game.)

The town this book is set in is named Arcadia, Florida. In Life is Strange, the name of the town is Arcadia Bay. The book starts with the main character, who is a teenage girl, seeing a blue-haired girl get shot in the stomach right in front of her by a young man from their school. In this book, it's in front of a Starbucks, and in the game it's inside the girls' bathroom of their school. The girl then miraculously receives supernatural powers in the heat of the moment that allows her to heal said blue-haired girl. In LiS, she was able to rewind time and cause a distraction, which allowed the girl to escape in time. In this book, it was a literal healing of her gunshot wound.

Then we figure out that the world is ending, and the more the girl uses her powers, the shittier things get. In LiS it was more small scale in that a tornado was threatening to destroy the town. So basically in this book it's a lot more apocalyptic and biblical, while in the game it's more of a sci-fi, "Chaos Theory" type thing. The parallels were just WAY too much to be a coincidence. Even down to Freddie's (the blue-haired girl) depression over the death of her father. In LiS, that was something that Chloe, the blue-haired girl in THAT game, struggled with and was a huge part of her trauma.

I would very much like to ask the author if he played Life is Strange himself and got the inspiration from there, or if this really WAS just an albeit extremely freaky coincidence. I just feel like it was much too uncanny to be considered one, so that's something I'd want to see the author clarify. In all honesty, I feel like DONTNOD (the developers of LiS) have grounds to sue him just on that beginning chapter alone lol. But I guess the ending and overall message of the book is different enough that it can stand on its own.

Anyways, all of that aside, I guess this book was okay. I was scratching my head 80% of the time cause nothing gets explained and we just have to go with it. In the end, I wasn't expecting the overall moral and theme of the book to be about so I guess that was pretty neat, even though it was portrayed in such a strange way. The book didn't pack as big of an emotional punch as We Are the Ants did, and the magical/sci-fi elements weren't vague enough to where you could argue if they really happened or not. That was a thing I liked about WAtA, but this book was just kind of "well, she can heal people and it makes random people get raptured, so there you go."

But like I said, this book was trying to convey a certain moral, and I think it got its message across. But the uncanny resemblance to Life is Strange and the fact that I couldn't really connect to any of the characters kinda weighed it down, in my opinion.
Profile Image for laur gluchie.
291 reviews130 followers
October 25, 2018
I have received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book through a giveaway hosted by the publisher. This has not affected my rating in any way.

This was absolutely fantastic. I love it I love it I love it.

There was one quote that stuck with me:
"People who're suicidal believe they want to die. They make a choice to actively end their lives, and they're determined to do it. There are others who simply give up. Whatever happens, happens, even if it's death."

I felt that.

(and I'm so here for Elena and Freddie (Eleddie? Frelena?) plus the asexuality rep got me so hyped in a quiet classroom full of test-taking teens)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dylan.
547 reviews230 followers
September 1, 2017

Since this doesn't come out until February of 2018, I don't want to say too much, but what I will say is that this book is magnificent.

I'm going to be honest, I was quite worried going into this. WE ARE THE ANTS is my favourite book of all time, I was frankly, disappointed with his 2017 release, AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE, but I also really loved THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY, so there was still hope.

As always, ELENA was beautifully written and crafted, the characters were SO well done, and it has GREAT cuban and bisexual rep. (also, a character might be somewhere on the ace spectrum, which is what I'm hoping.)

PLEASE pick up THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA when it comes out on 2/6/18, you won't regret it.

(also, there's TONS of cool easter eggs from Shaun's other works, so I'm going to have to go read the other books of his I haven't read and will most likely reread my arc copy before the end of the year.)
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.4k followers
February 24, 2018
More of a 2.5 unfortunately

I am so disappointed with this book. Shaun David Hutchinson wrote my favorite book of all time: We Are the Ants. Unfortunately, I haven't been very impressed with his books ever since. This book felt like another copy and paste of the same premise as We Are The Ants, just not as good. (Which is the same feeling I got with his other book At the Edge of the Universe). As another reviewer has said, I think Shaun David Hutchinson needs some fresh ideas, because all of his books since We Are the Ants have felt exactly the same.

This book follows a girl named Elena Mendoza who was born from a virgin birth. Her Mom was a virgin when she gave birth to her and she was considered a miracle. Now, Elena is sixteen and she can perform miracles. She has a crush on this girl named Freddie who gets shot in a Starbucks parking lot and then she is able to heal her somehow. Elena also hears "voices" and inanimate objects speak to her all the time throughout the book, telling her it's up to her to save the world.

Elena is a lot like Henry from We Are The Ants, but not as likable. I found it incredibly cheesy when she would talk to the voices. (One part was actually her box of tampons talking to her... like seriously?) I don't know if it was supposed to be cool, but I just found it cheesy. Her love interest Freddie is kind of a bitch... I'm sorry but she treats Elena like shit for 95% of this book and I just couldn't really stand her..? Elena spends most of her time in this book healing people, talking to the voices, and debating whether or not she should be healing people. She also spends most of her time complaining to her friends about how rude Freddie is and then continues to pursue her anyway and pick up the phone every time she calls. The whole "saving the world" thing falling on the shoulders of a teenager again and again in his books is getting kind of old for me. It worked so well in We Are The Ants, but it hasn't worked very well in his other books for me.

The good things in this book include bisexual rep, a diverse cast of characters, and gorgeous writing with beautiful quotes about life and the meaning of it. Other than that, I wasn't very impressed with this story and I found myself skimming most of it, which sucks because I wanted to love this book.
Profile Image for Faye*.
315 reviews94 followers
September 8, 2018
2.5 stars

The concept of this story was super unique and interesting. Unfortunately, I was kind of in a book slump while listening to this. So, while I still enjoyed it, the weirdness of the plot wasn’t enough to make this one great for me. I had problems understanding the characters and sometimes felt that I didn't get the point of their conversations. Also, nothing much really happens?!?

Again, Eli made me do it :D I just DNFed my last read so I have high hopes for this one. Book, you better be good.
Profile Image for Alexandra ☁.
78 reviews210 followers
December 27, 2018
4 stars.
I really liked the writing and the originality of the plot but I felt like it was dragging a lot in the middle and end of the book. I also feel like I have a lot of questions I never got the answers to. But it was a interesting read!

btw; A lot of important and great quotes/conversations in this.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
January 20, 2019
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, considering I DNFed another book by this author after two chapters. I didn't think it was perfect, but I did really like it.

Let's start with the good.
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is a very weird book, and if you know me, you know I like weird. It's about a bisexual girl of Cuban descent who had a virgin birth and can perform miracles.
I like weird because it's a very interesting way to explore concepts, and those concepts can be everything: the importance of folklore, environmentalism, military ethics... here, the meaning of choices.
This is a very character-driven book: its focus is on Elena's decisions, Elena's agency, and the way it can influence other people's agency. It was a really interesting theme and I liked what Hutchinson did with it.

I also loved the writing. I did think it should have been subtler sometimes, but it was great - mostly because I loved the main character's voice. Elena's sarcasm strikes the perfect balance between funny and dark in a book set during the apocalypse. Don't expect a novel full of action and plot twists - this book's premise is basically everyday life at the end of the world. It's great.

I really liked the characters. Elena was flawed but not unlikable, and I loved her, just like I loved her best friend Fadil, but what I loved the most was how the author allowed (almost) every character to be layered - even the ones that are, at the end of the story, pretty much irredeemable.

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is mostly about choices, but that's not the only theme explored here - it also talks about depression (TW: suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation, suicide of a minor character) and what defines an illness. I loved that in a story about healing the sick the author took his time to define what it means to be sick, but here I found the first thing I didn't like.
Elena and two of her friends have a conversation about autism and how it is often perceived as an illness (there are still people looking for a cure out there, sometimes also with eugenics, yay). She asks "but what if an autistic person asked me to cure them?" and then cuts off the conversation saying it was a hypothetical, there was no need to get worked up about it. Yes, it's easy not to get worked up about a hypothetical when it doesn't affect you, Elena. However, when a gay character asks her to cure him from being gay, she has no problem telling him that being gay isn't an illness (she's bi). I didn't like how this double standard was never addressed.

Now, to the part I truly hated: this book has one of the worst romantic relationships I've ever read.

The love interest in this book is Winifred "Freddie" Petrine: the girl Elena heals during the first chapter, the girl Elena had a crush on for years (without actually knowing her), the girl who spends 70% of the book having angry outbursts and being rude to everyone around her.

You see, Freddie has depression. Here's the thing:

•depression does not make you a bad person
•depression is, therefore, not an excuse to be a bad person
•if you didn't go out of your way to be rude to people when you were not depressed, you won't do it while you have depression
•if you do, that's not your depression, you're just a piece of shit

It's not just that Freddie is rude, which would be understandable (she's going through a lot). If Freddie didn't want to talk to Elena because she had depression, a "leave me alone" would have been enough, but no. Freddie constantly goes out of her way to be rude to Elena. She tells Elena she's worthless. She apologizes a few pages later, but in a few lines she's telling her that no one will ever care about her. She apologizes, then starts insulting Elena because she had a crush on her. She apologizes a few pages later, then blames Elena for her own bullying because, according to Freddie, Elena wanted to be bullied (authors: your audience is teenagers. Many of them are being bullied. Don't make anyone say this unless you address it immediately. This is victim blaming, and I don't care about the depression card). Then Freddie apologized, kissed Elena, but two lines later tried to convince her to perform a miracle for her; when Elena refuses, Freddie starts insulting her again.

It's not that she got angry once and apologized. No, she got angry, she apologized, then had a mood swing and did it again, apologized, and then did it again, and then apologized - you get it. But seriously: if your relationships (not only the romantic ones) ever look like this, do not walk away, run. It's a toxic situation, and likely also emotional abuse.
Even when the other person doesn't mean to (but honestly, can you be this rude to someone without meaning to? She meant to), it's still toxic for you.
Also, in one of those arguments Freddie deadnames a trans character, who exists in the book only to get deadnamed. ...why? Casual representation is great, but this is not the way to do it!

Freddie is the only flat character and had no other traits apart from being rude and making Elena think by being rude. I have no idea why Elena liked her, after she realized she was not the idealized girl she had a crush on.
Elena does say that she likes her because "she never gives up no matter what she goes through", which I found really funny - I think Freddie had given up on being a decent, not emotionally manipulative person a long time ago.

If it hadn't been for the romance, this would have been a five star.
Profile Image for Katie.
Author 13 books3,346 followers
June 17, 2018
Honestly idk how to rate this. Maybe 3.5? If we're talking quality, I think it deserves more of a 4 or 5 stars - I think it's a good book! But I tend to rate based on my enjoyment level. And while I was amused while reading this, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I'm struggling to find a way to describe exactly why other than it was just a...weird book and just not really my thing.

So my thoughts in a nutshell: this book is really well done, has super unique and interesting ideas, and great diverse representation. It's just weird. And I guess not my type of humor?

Profile Image for Anna.
577 reviews76 followers
July 7, 2020
While I thought this was a unique apocalypse story with likable characters and compelling writing, the plot moved a little too slowly and there were a few statements that annoyed me enough that I enjoyed it but probably won't remember it by tomorrow.
Profile Image for Cassandra.
660 reviews84 followers
February 13, 2018
"No one is perfect, no one is flawless, and loving someone means admitting they have faults. It means loving them, not in spite of those flaws, but because of them."

I loved this. I knew I would love it from the day I pre-ordered it, but the first hundred pages or so I was worried. Then I became emotionally attached to all (well, most) of the characters and I knew everything was going to be just fine.

For the first chunk, this book was almost too weird for me. Mostly because no one else writes books quite as odd as SDH, but then I found my rhythm and binge read the final few hundred pages.

Now, this is a personal opinion, but I spent around four hundred pages out of this four hundred and fifty page book annoyed with Freddie. Most people seemed to love her character, but sweet Jesus she drove me mad. I understand that she had depression and was working through some stuff, but she treated Elena like crap and I was a bit pissed that they ended up together so perfectly happily. Elena had a good heart, and while at the end it was clear Freddie did too, I still found myself wanted to scream at her about how she didn't deserve someone as good as Elena.

The characters from his previous books showing up was definitely an amazing aspect of this book as well. I will never tire of the young lads from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, At the Edge of the Universe, or one of my favorite books of all time, We Are the Ants.

Overall, Elena is a sassy, sweetheart of a human being, I loved most of the characters in this (shoutout to Fadil), and I am still a loyal slave to the writing of SDH.

Pre-Read Review

The Bible goes science fiction?

Bring it.
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
783 reviews122 followers
September 22, 2022
not giving this a star rating bc i’m not sure what i’d give it.

this story follows elena mendoza, who has always been labeled as weird due to her virgin birth. but she gets labeled even weirder after healing her crush from what should’ve been a fatal gunshot wound. but that’s not even the weirdest part: when she did that, the boy who shot her crush—including many others—disappeared. objects start talking to elena about the end of the world and how she can save everyone, but she’s faced with the moral dilemma of people disappearing when she heals.

what i liked: this was an interesting book. i liked seeing elena’s growth and how she had a great best friend. i also appreciated the discussions of morality, and there were a lot of those.

something i hated: when elena said she’d “cure” an autistic person if they asked her to. what??? it’s not a discussion of whether they asked (plus, if it was, why did she heal others without asking?), it’s just vile to insinuate that an autistic person would need “cured” at all. the only reason an autistic person would need cured is if they have an injury or something like that. but if they don’t, there’s nothing to cure, even if they ask.

there was also a moment during which elena and her crush deadnamed someone. this isn’t word-for-word, but it went something like: “i had my eye on [deadname]” “didn’t [deadname]—?” “transition, yeah. she’s nissa now.” i get that freddie was discussing the past, but she still could’ve called her nissa instead of her deadname.

something i didn’t like, but didn’t hate: i was excited at first that henry from we are the ants made an appearance, but i quickly disliked that aspect, because it turns that book’s ending from open and mysterious to closed and borderline boring. glad to see he’s doing okay, at least.

source: my local library via hoopla
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,204 followers
January 11, 2018
Readers who love the weird genre-bending fiction of Shaun David Hutchinson won't be disappointed. I'd also hand it to readers who love and are itching for weird in the style of AS King. And then for readers who love this book -- particularly the messages about life, about humanity, about saving the world -- would do well picking up Blake Nelson's DESTROY ALL CARS.

My favorite character was definitely Freddie. Perhaps the most complex, challenging, and yet utterly real character who wavers between smart and savvy as hell in her sharpness and depressed and utterly frustrated in sharpness, too....sometimes within pages, like someone really suffering with mental illness can be. Especially as a teenager with raging hormones thrown on top of it all.

Some of the plot lines felt unnecessary (like with the step father) as they weren't necessarily fleshed out entirely well by the end. But they weren't obtrusive, either.

Elena is a bisexual Cuban American born from a virgin with the power to perform miracles. For real. This book is bizarre but delightfully so.
Profile Image for Eli.
219 reviews100 followers
June 5, 2018
okay so imagine Jesus
But as a sarcastic, sixteen year old bisexual girl! Crazy!
I just can't get over how cool this idea is! All the characters are perfect and I loved Elena so much!

even Morgan Freeman god would approve of this book.
Profile Image for Maria.
561 reviews356 followers
February 13, 2018

Actual rating: 4.5 Stars!


I just love Shaun David Hutchinson and his books so much. I've been waiting for this one and I can't believe I've already finished reading it! It was a fantastic edition to his "end of the world series" and I absolutely loved how it connected all of his other books together in one!

Stay tuned for a full review coming soon!
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
561 reviews1,736 followers
May 4, 2020
rep: bi Cuban-American mc, sapphic li, Muslim ace (questioning) side character

yes, the mc literally performs miracles & i would still say this is the least weird of hutchinson's books

anyway, there's so much to love here but the ideas it incorporates that i wanna focus on are 1) that we get crushes on a person we imagine, not a real human being & 2) that all we can do in this life is make our own choices

(yeah, i'm putting this on my 'chosen one' self and u can't stop me)
Profile Image for Martin.
37 reviews14 followers
June 28, 2018
Shaun David Hutchinson tends to situate his protagonists at the brink of apocalypse, often placing the fate of humankind in their hands. This is also the case with Elena Mendoza who faces an especially dire dilemma: is she willing to perform miracles even if she dooms others in doing so? However, besides the magical realism frame of the story, do not expect to receive answers to why the world might be ending. Once one has read several books of the author one sees through the pattern and realises that it takes such apocalyptic extremes for the characters to make a decision regarding their lives. Hutchinson fans of previous books will be in for a treat, seeing that the novel contains several Easter eggs which may or may not hint at the future of already familiar characters. Unlike the previous three books, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is slightly less heavy and more uplifting. The female perspective is also refreshingly new.

Elena has a balanced life of loving people (be it her mum, siblings, best Friend Fadil or elderly neighbour) and people who are a nuisance (her stepdad and people at school). I liked the differentiating portrayal that people can have more than one side to them. They can be both caring for their loved ones and be cruel to others. I immensely enjoyed Shaun’s whimsical humour – I mean a talking tampon box and baby Cthulhu?! While character dynamics developement, e.g. Elena’s relationship towards Javi and her complicated relation to Freddie were a success, I thought the pending involvement of the authorities and of another ominous party and their taking action not until the very end seemed to me a bit implausible; yet this was only a minor factor. Moreover, the reader gets in Fadil another diverse and multi-layered character.

As always, Shaun does not shy away to depict the darker truths of life, often disillusioning and taking on picture-perfect lives and relationships shown in other books, films and TV. The book reflects on love, heteronormative society and raises questions like “How many chances does a disgraced person deserve and when is it OK to cut them out of one’s life for good?”

David became one of my autobuy authors and I am looking forward to read “The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried” in 2019.
Profile Image for Brooke.
274 reviews137 followers
March 1, 2018
I had a hard time with this one. I was looking forward to SDH's quirkiness, but there were too many character & prose issues to fall in love with Elena & her world.

First, the positives. The representation here is great. Elena is a bisexual Cuban teen who has a crush on Freddie, the girl she heals from the Starbucks parking lot. This in turn leads to them getting to know each other better, eventually leading to a f/f romance. There's Fadil, Elena's Muslim best friend who is unsure whether he falls on the ace/aro spectrum. Freddie is queer & deeply depressed due to her father's death by suicide a year ago. I loved that these things are openly discussed & mentioned; however, I do wish a bit more time had been spent on Fadil because it felt like his questioning had just gotten thrown away in the end. There's no doubt that this will attract the right readers for this reason alone but I felt like the book was missing something to truly get me invested in it.

I liked the short chapters in the beginning, but they quickly grew annoying as it would break off after a single scene. The last couple chapters I enjoyed & glad I stuck around for, but 436 pages is too long for a plot that's mainly going nowhere except for the MC to do some internalization. There was a lot of telling instead of showing & I honestly felt like the book could have been cut down by at least 50% as there were a lot of pointless sentences added that did nothing to fuel the plot forward. I was curious to see what Elena would choose to do in the end, but that could have happened a lot faster if the text was concise.

I had a major problem with some of the people in Elena's life, especially Sean. Sean is Elena's stepfather, a man who doesn't want to get a job, is addicted to pills & booze & makes it clear that Elena is unwanted. Because of this, Elena must pick up the slack & take care of her siblings while her mother's at work. I was baffled at the interaction here. Elena sasses him but doesn't get angry enough. Sean reminds me of men I was surrounded with at that age, & while I admit I did sometimes sass them, mostly I was fucking pissed. Enraged that they didn't want to do anything & I was constantly trying to make them change their ways. (Yeah it wasn't successful, but hey. At least I gave it a try.) I guess I just couldn't understand why Elena is mostly complacent & put up with his bullshit for as long as she did.

I also hated Elena's romances. Javi, her ex-boyfriend still wants her back & while Elena makes it clear that that will never happen, he doesn't care & attempts to try to make her change her mind. This still isn't resolved by the end of the book; instead, a few jokes are tossed in for good measure in an attempt for it to be suffice enough. Javi's sense of entitlement & the fact that he just could never get the picture unnerved me & I wish Elena would have just stopped talking to him altogether. On the other hand, Freddie was just as bad to her. She was mean & insulting, then somehow decided she was interested in Elena & they end up (somewhat) together. What? Not really sure how it's okay for someone to treat you like shit for 250+ pages, then change their tune (not excusing depression but it almost makes it seem like it's okay for this reason, which I know wasn't the author's intent) & get together with her. But whatever.

I did like how Fadil called Elena out for being a bad friend- which she was- & would have liked to see more of Fadil standing up for himself because it was never an equal friendship. In all, this book is filled with humans making human mistakes which is great in concept, but I had hoped the characters would have been more likable. The themes of choices & consequences was fantastic, but unfortunately I was bored & disappointed at the MC's actions & didn't end up enjoying this as much as I thought I would. If you're familiar with SDH's work, I'd recommend it. Otherwise I'd start with his AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE.
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