#AA2019 Nominees Round Up, May 2 Edition

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson, narrated by Candace Thaxton
Audio Published by Simon and Schuster Audio
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
ISBN: 978-1508245636

Elena Mendoza is the product of parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. It’s a fact; proven by a doctor and peer-reviewed medical journals. Because of this information, Elena grows up with her classmates and community thinking her an oddity, students at her school calling her “Mary” to persecute her difference. Her best friend Fadil, is really her only friend. One day while on her break at Starbucks, Fadil literally pushes Elena into taking to her crush Winifred “Freddie” Petrine. Elena approaches just as another student at their high school, David Combs, shoots Freddie. This leads the Starbucks siren to inform Elena of her healing capabilities and encourages her to save Freddie’s life. In the aftermath of the healing, David is “raptured” by a bright light and disappears. This chain of events sets off an apocalypse, one in which Elena is cast in a starring role. Elena then learns that her healing capabilities are not limited to Freddie alone, as she heals a neighborhood stray and an elderly neighbor. Should she listen to the voices that tell her to use her healing powers to save humanity, to her friends or family that provide conflicting viewpoints, or to her intuition? Elena is confounded and paralyzed with indecision but inevitably has to choose a course of action.

The audio narration of this story elevates the characters and highlights their complexity and ever-changing viewpoints. Thaxton does a fantastic job evoking personality into all of the characters and reading Elena’s internal monologues in a way that keeps the listener engrossed and interested. Elena’s voice is quirky and compelling and Freddie has this great gravel and grit that adds to her depression and grief.

This audio is recommended for listeners 13 and up. Listening to Elena talk with inanimate objects may remind readers of the short-lived television series Wonderfalls. Readers who enjoy this book will also like Hutchinson’s other work; We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe. They may also enjoy the humor and sci-fi twist in Lance Rubin’s Denton Little books.

–Erin Durrett