FICTION

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza

448p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481498548.
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RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—With great power comes great responsibility—and even more confusion. Elena Mendoza, 16, has recently discovered that she can magically heal the sick or wounded; but whenever she does, people all over the world disappear. The result of a scientifically proven virgin birth, Elena has long been gossip fodder at school, and after she heals a girl who's been shot (her crush, Freddie), the rumors go into overdrive, with some hailing her as a "Miracle Girl" and others deriding her as a fake. Inanimate objects have spoken to Elena all her life, and now they instruct her to heal as many people as possible. But is the teen sending the disappearing people to their salvation or to their doom? Hutchinson artfully blends the realistic and the surreal (and a bit of the biblical) for an utterly absorbing take on the Rapture. The author depicts Elena's bond with her loving mother, the ups and downs of her friendship with Fadil, and her burgeoning relationship with Freddie with finesse. Beneath the snarky, self-deprecating prose lie thought-provoking questions about morality, the universe, and free will. Hutchinson provides few answers, trusting readers, and Elena, to come to their own conclusions.
VERDICT The author presents an entirely original take on apocalyptic fiction—no mean feat. Hand this stirring tale to fans of Aaron Starmer's Spontaneous and those who enjoy A.S. King's work.

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