Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Apocalypse Taco

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll probably know that I love Nathan Hale's comics and graphic novels. His nonfiction series Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales is the gold standard for historical graphic novels, as far as I am concerned. I loved his takes on fairy tales and the southwest, Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack. And I really liked his original sci-fi graphic novel One Trick Pony. With his new book Apocalypse Taco, not only does he win the prize for best original book title, he also provides a gripping, tense, icky, and fun sci-fi/horror tale.

The set-up of this book starts before a school theater production of Brigadoon, when the students are creating the set. A trio, including 11-year-old twins Axl and Ivan and 16-year-old Sid make a late night fast food run to energize the minds and bodies of the crew. Not only do they not get the food, the food tries to get them.
At first they think they have been transported to some alternate, hellish dimension. Then they find that their school and town have been transformed into imperfect replicas. Everyone and everything, including their families, friends, and homes have turned to goopy creatures that are chasing them. Not only that, they encounter other strange lifeforms, including one made up entirely of arms and another made up of teeth. All of this is clearly unsettling and horrific, but luckily they meet up with a graduate student (!) who starts to make sense of things.

I will not reveal more, as I don't want to spoil things, but clearly this is a book with a lot going on. I enjoyed how horrific and original it was, and I admire just how much it is genuinely a thriller that does not insult anyone's intelligence. The situations are strange and compelling, and Hale definitely establishes a mood throughout the book that builds suspense and has multiple payoffs in terms of the plotting. As much as I love his nonfiction work, I also really dig the fiction he has written. His takes build on common genre tropes, but he extends them to interesting, unique places. Hale is one of the best comics creators out there, for all audiences, in my opinion. Apocalypse Taco is a satisfying, gruesome tale that should appeal to readers looking for fun, sci-fi/horror.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have praised it. Publishers Weekly summed it up as "Weird, freaky fun." J. Caleb Mozzocco concluded, "Young readers, particularly those who are easily freaked out, may want to proceed with caution. More adventurous readers can plunge right in, with one caveat: There’s a pretty good chance their minds might get blown in the process." Sam Wildman wrote, "Apocalypse Taco has great crossover appeal for both adult readers and young readers – at least those who can appreciate a trippy surreal trip into the world of grotesque body horror." Kirkus Reviews called it "A well-balanced mix of sci-fi, horror, and humor."

Apocalypse Taco was published by Abrams, and they offer a preview and more info about it here.
I finally had the honor and pleasure of meeting Nathan Hale at the Denver Pop Culture Con last month, and he was gracious enough to sign my copy. HE ROCKS!

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