Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: Apeshit by Carlton Mellick III

Desdemona is the only girl on the cheerleading squad with a mohawk.
How can a novel with that opening line not be worth reading?

As Mellick himself says in the introduction, Apeshit is a love letter to B-grade horror films, especially slashers. The plot of the book self-consciously uses the extremely cliché set up of six teenagers going out to party in the woods. Bad shit happens. This being a Carlton Mellick novel, it's not the kind of bad shit you'd expect. 

It's kind of hard to talk about the plot in detail without going into too many spoilers. Mellick takes all of the tropes of slasher films and turns them on their heads. For one thing, the killer in Apeshit isn't even the one that draws first blood. That honor goes to one of the teenagers attempting suicide. In fact, most of the book is more about the teens dealing with their bizarre problems than with a killer after them. Problems like vagina dentana, abortion fetishism, AIDS, and sexually confused three-ways. 
Stephanie is in the van brushing her teeth. She always brushes her teeth whenever she's nervous. She has brushed her teeth five times today already. White foam is drooling out of her mouth onto her knees her mind is in another place.
Mellick's simple and straightforward prose makes this read almost like a script (appropriate given the main influences) and adds a layer of dead pan humor through the whole affair. As fucked up and gorey as the proceedings get, Apeshit never takes itself too seriously. The result is a great balance of humor, gore, melodrama, and even a little bit of pathos.
Jason's father wasn't afraid of anything. Not a single thing. It was his goal in life to make sure Jason was not afraid of anything, either. Whenever he learned of something Jason was afraid of, he would make him face that fear.
The biggest flaw I see in this is that people going in expecting a plot driven horror story are going to be disappointed. The plot is dead simple with all of the entertainment value coming from the characters and the fucked up shit that happens to them. And that they do. 

Apeshit is just a bloody good read and hard to put down even as gross and over the top as it gets. I'd highly recommend this to fans of horror fiction and to anyone wanting to dive head first into the Bizarro genre. Personally, I'm also looking forward to reading its just released sequel Clusterfuck.

Buy Apeshit here.

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