Sid, Axl, and Ivan volunteer to make a late-night fast-food run for the high school theater crew, and when they return, they find themselves. Not in a deep, metaphoric sense: They find copies of themselves onstage. As they look closer, they begin to realize that the world around them isn’t quite right. Turns out, when they went to the taco place across town, they actually crossed into an alien dimension that’s eerily similar to their world. The aliens have made sinister copies of cars, buildings, and people—and they all want to get Sid, Axl, and Ivan. Now the group will have to use their wits, their truck, and even their windshield scraper to escape! But they may be too late. They may now be copies themselves . . .
Apocalypse Taco Review
- January 1, 1970BetsyBefore I get into the book before me, I need to give you a little history lesson. That's a bit ironic since author Nathan Hale is best known for his history comics, but bear with me. So I have in my possession a book called The Seduction of the Innocent written by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, published in 1954. This is the book that almost single-handedly turned the comic book publishing industry on its head. It’s considered infamous today because in the book Wertham makes no bones abo Before I get into the book before me, I need to give you a little history lesson. That's a bit ironic since author Nathan Hale is best known for his history comics, but bear with me. So I have in my possession a book called The Seduction of the Innocent written by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, published in 1954. This is the book that almost single-handedly turned the comic book publishing industry on its head. It’s considered infamous today because in the book Wertham makes no bones about the fact that he sincerely believes comics to be a bad influence on kids and a leading cause of juvenile delinquency. His book is widely vilified in today’s pro-comics 21st century, but here’s the deal: Wertham wasn’t wrong about everything. I’ve read the book and the thing that sticks out the most is that Wertham isn’t taking pot-shots at superhero comics or Archie comics half as much as he is horror comics. His point was that kids were getting some pretty perverted stuff. Needles in eyeballs. Some MAJOR racism and sexism (you have to credit Wertham for calling this out, if nothing else). Horror comics of the 50s were sort of marketed to kids and, by using them as examples, the man was able to paint the entire industry with a big comics-are-bad-for-you brush. Not fair, but there it is.Fast forward to 2019. Comics are flourishing. Sure they still aren’t being published at a rate that meets the voracious demands of our comic-loving kids, but that old stereotype of sequential art rotting your brain is starting to fall by the wayside. Walk into most libraries and you’ll see newspaper comics, nonfiction comics, action adventure comics, dramatic comics, lowbrow comics, highbrow comics, the works! So what won’t you see in a children’s room? Horror comics for kids. It seems that Wertham’s influence casts its long shadow to this day. You can find adult horror comics (and even Neil Gaiman’s had fun with it with titles like, Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire) and YA trucks with it as well, but children’s books? Unless you’re talking about those weak adaptations of Goosebumps stories (and I am not) the pickings are slim. They're not non-existent, but it would be hard to make a list of the seriously scary stuff.Which brings us to Nathan Hale. In 2017 Mr. Hale branched out of his “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales” series, writing a standalone science fiction comic called One Trick Pony. An amazing experiment in concise storytelling, Hale managed to eschew complicated world building, while also coming up with a pretty unique post-apocalyptic landscape. In the book, aliens have attacked Earth and stolen most of our technology. When it takes a third act trip to outer space the book makes a sharp right-hand turn into grotesqueries. Something akin to Hieronymus Bosch ala Space Oddity. I remember reading the book and feeling pretty impressed that Hale was able to get away with something quite that psychedelic in a children’s book. Now, it appears, that was just the warm up. Apocalypse Taco is a straight-up horror comic for kids. Gross and intelligent, unpredictable and a bit of a mess, and really, thoroughly enjoyable. Of course you’ll probably only agree if you’re into smart horror in the first place. It’s Tech Night at the high school and that means an overnight fest of working on the sets for a production of Brigadoon. Middle schoolers Axl and Ivan get to help because their mom’s in charge of the work, but when the chance comes to make a 1:30 AM burger run with sixteen-year-old Sidney, they jump at the chance. They mean to go to McDonalds but when they find a Taco Bear open instead it just makes sense to buy late night munchies there. It’s funny how the discovery that your food has turned into demon squid taco boxes can really dampen your mood. The next thing they know, Axl, Ivan, and Sidney appear to be trapped in a world of loose, gooey copies. Copies of their school. Copies of the streets. Even copies of themselves. It’ll take rescuing a multi-armed grad student to not only get out of this sticky predicament, but to figure out how it all began. If you’re a kid who likes horror, you generally get it by watching movies on the sly. There are plenty of twelve-year-olds olds out there that have gorged on It, Stranger Things, etc. When they walk into a children’s room in a library they’re going to want horror in their books and they’re generally going to be disappointed. Horror for kids is a tame affair for a reason. The best horror unnerves, but when it comes to children's book publishing you’re far more likely to find books that truck in the merely spooky. There are, however, exceptions. At first, I wanted to compare Apocalypse Taco not to any children’s comics out there (which are, as I may have mentioned, pretty bereft of horror elements) but to the novel Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. After reading it last year, I was floored by how well it wrapped its horror concepts together. Still, upon further reflection the true companion to this book is, without a doubt, The Nest by Kenneth Oppel. In both cases you have villainous insects. You have a shifting reality where the biological becomes a repository for horror. The tone is a bit different, but that has as much to do with Hale and Oppel’s styles as it does the fact that one is a comic and one a novel. In tandem, they work beautifully. Books to lose sleep over.The thing that Apocalypse Taco says to me is that Nathan Hale’s “Hazardous Tales” series must make some good money for Amulet Books. How else would the man have had the clout to get something this wildly inventive into the American marketplace? The book reads like a work of catharsis. Hale’s art spins wildly out of control in a beautifully controlled manner (if that makes any sense at all). One minute he’s creating a melting world, and the next it’s all limbs and hands. There are lots of tentacles, and plenty of teeth, and the whole endeavor succeeds in making you feel that you’ve dropped into a particularly gooey Wonderland. Comparisons to Alice wouldn’t be wrong since there is a dreamlike quality to the imaginings, horrific though they be. Only Alice didn’t have to deal with a world being copied by tiny bees. Not that I know of, anyway. It’s interesting to examine how much of the book consists of diving down, deep deep into something. I’m sure the Freudians would have a field day with this one, but let’s just think about what this means for kids. Lots of books have created underground worlds. City of Ember, the aforementioned Alice, Gregor the Overlander, etc. Hale uses the opportunity to sink and then rise as an excuse to offer our characters some exposition and back-story. When you’re trapped in a car controlled by goo, that’s as good a time as ever to discuss what’s going on. Sometimes when explanations arise in a novel, they don’t live up to the premise. Hale doesn’t suffer from that particular malady. These may not be the simplest answers in the world, but darned if they’re boring.Just as the character of Kevin in this book can’t quite keep what’s happening to the world under control, so too does Hale have a small problem keeping everything comprehensible in this storyline. Rereadings help, of course, but I don’t think the book benefits from too close a reading. If you’re looking for plot holes, you’ll probably fall into a couple. I had to read and reread to figure out how our heroes got into Copy Cat Land and I’m still puzzling over what it takes to get out of it. There’s also the fact that beneath Copy Cat Land is the Hive of Goop. It’s easy to get the two confused. About the time Kevin says the Hive of Goop was in his brain I was ready to start all over again. Sometimes a novel without a lot of drive is said to not be a “plot forward” book. I’d say this book isn’t necessarily a "linear forward" comic. You can get forward. You will get forward. But there’s going to be a lot of backing and forthing and upping and downing along the way. There’s a weird comfort in the fact that Hale is perfectly aware of this, though. At one point Axl cries out in frustration, “Hang on? Is this an explanation story INSIDE you EXPLANATION STORY?” You gotta respect that.If you’re going to be technical about it, the horror comics kids were reading in the 1950s weren’t specifically aimed at kids in the first place. But the creators of those comics knew perfectly well that that was who was going to buy them. With that in mind, it’s probably fair to say that until the last few years, horror comics have never been written intentionally with a child audience in mind, and those that have have been fairly so-so. Apocalypse Taco is therefore a wholly new creation in more ways than one. It opens the door for more kid-friendly horror (whether or not you see that as a good thing is up to you, but the 12-year-old me is pumping her fist right now), blows the roof off the competition, and is a great story besides. I mean, it’s got everything! Tooth monsters. School lockers full of goo. Brigadoon. You name it! I wouldn’t hand it to a kid that doesn’t already love the creepy, but for the right kiddo this will be the answer to their sweet twisted nightmares. A lovely dose of insanity for your local library shelves. Who could ask for anything more?For ages 10 and up.more
- January 1, 1970Rod BrownI love the historical Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, but Nathan Hale's science fiction and horror works like One Trick Pony and this book just don't work for me, maybe because they are too weird and too dark. This one was placed in the children's section at the library, but I think several sequences of body horror and cannibalism and that ending might freak out some young readers.more
- January 1, 1970Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & ScaryDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley for review consideration.I did not expect that the first five star rating I would give in 2019 would go to a graphic novel, let alone a middle-grade one. (Keep in mind that reviews are not always posted in the order books are read! It can depend on release dates.) However, Apocalypse Taco bothered me enough (in a good way) that I actually had to check and verify it was a kid’s book! Even in black and white, the illustrat Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley for review consideration.I did not expect that the first five star rating I would give in 2019 would go to a graphic novel, let alone a middle-grade one. (Keep in mind that reviews are not always posted in the order books are read! It can depend on release dates.) However, Apocalypse Taco bothered me enough (in a good way) that I actually had to check and verify it was a kid’s book! Even in black and white, the illustrations and story in this novel were enough to get my imagination going. (Not to burrito around the bush, but if your kiddo gets nightmares easily, I’d probably avoid this one.)There was more than one panel in this novel that had my scalp crawling. Nathan Hale has a wicked imagination and the world that he conjures up in Apocalypse Taco is a terrifying one. It started so innocently that I think the sheer twistedness of it caught me off guard. The ending of it had me leaning away from my e-reader and saying some words that don’t belong in a middle-grade graphic novel review.Apart from the “Eww, gross!” factor, this is a fast-paced novel with clear plot, and lots of action. The panels are laid out in an organized, easy-to-read fashion. The language is appropriate, and the middle-graders act their age. The length is perfect, as well.I had planned on having a little bit of fun with this review, peppering it with more food puns, given the title. But, it’s hard to wanna taco ‘bout food when the book you’ve read has put you off even fake Mexican food for at least a few days.Overall, Apocalypse Taco feels like a Twilight Zone/ Outer Limits episode, and I highly recommend it. If your children (or you) like things creepily off-kilter, it’ll be right up your alley. I will be recommending this to my local library and then checking it out as soon as they get it as I cannot wait to see it in color. I’ll also be checking out more work from Nathan Hale in general.more
- January 1, 1970Heather BrownApocalypse Taco is super weird and creepy, but I like it! On a food run for the high school drama tech crew, Ivan Axl and Sidney run into trouble. End-of-the-world trouble. Creepy creatures and giant monsters are making copies of people and things, and it's all centered around the local Taco Bear fast-food place. If you liked Spill Zone, you definitely want to check out Apocalypse Taco!more
- January 1, 1970Adam SequoyahApocalypse Taco creeped me out far more than I expected it to. After reading Hale's first American history book (excellent!) and Rapunzel's Revenge, which he illustrated, I expected Taco to serve up a similarly prancing and mostly silly experience. Not so, Nacho.The story is still an adventurous romp, and it delivers a generous amount of humor. But its genre is undoubtedly horror. Meant for teens, maybe. But still horror. And it horrified me, even past my expectations going into it of an unbelie Apocalypse Taco creeped me out far more than I expected it to. After reading Hale's first American history book (excellent!) and Rapunzel's Revenge, which he illustrated, I expected Taco to serve up a similarly prancing and mostly silly experience. Not so, Nacho.The story is still an adventurous romp, and it delivers a generous amount of humor. But its genre is undoubtedly horror. Meant for teens, maybe. But still horror. And it horrified me, even past my expectations going into it of an unbelievable fantasy from which I sat removed. All this to say, it pulls it off fantastically. It's a tight, engaging story told well.I also want to comment on its format. I'm not well-read in graphic novels. There are conventions that whisk over my head and probably subtleties I don't notice. I noticed as I was about halfway through that there were only about 3 colors used in the printing. That surprised me, since the shading and expression in each panel expressed so much -- and since I had not even realized I was not viewing this in full color! I've also found myself, in other graphic novels, stumbling incessantly over the word bubbles and direction in which I was supposed to read across the page. I had some of that confusion in this book, but much less than in others.Overall, I have to conclude that Nathan Hale tells a story well, especially with pictures. I appreciate his style, and I would recommend this book to anyone over age 12 looking for a strange and fun fright.MPAA ratings: PG-13 for violence and scary images.more
- January 1, 1970Jon(athan) NakapalauWow - what an original concept! When 'copies' of everything start multiplying everywhere Sid, Axl, and Ivan have to try to bet to the bottom of what is going on - even as the copies seem to be 'refining' their relation to what is being copied...reminded me of Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation - excellent story and art!more
- January 1, 1970ToryA whole lotta Cronenbergian apocalyptic fun!
- January 1, 1970EarlThis was probably one of the most insane stories I've read. I mean, what can you expect with a title like Apocalypse Taco? It reminds me of horror movies when they were still scary with a touch of the absurd like The Evil Dead. I'm sure this will be gobbled up by both kids and adults!more
- January 1, 1970Maria LongoriaGood and fast read. Enjoyed this book very much.
- January 1, 1970KelseyWow, that was...unique
- January 1, 1970Destiny HendersonI was thoroughly creeped out, and I enjoyed every second. We all know what happens when man tries to play God. I generally dislike apocalyptic/dystopian/scary stories, but I found this one intriguing. Gosh, just the thought of that bee goop touching my skin makes my skin crawl and not to mention (view spoiler)[ the bee-goop printer eyeball EKKKKKK! do not want. (hide spoiler)]I really liked the characters even with their short introductions and the fact that the mom's a little one-note (nagging I was thoroughly creeped out, and I enjoyed every second. We all know what happens when man tries to play God. I generally dislike apocalyptic/dystopian/scary stories, but I found this one intriguing. Gosh, just the thought of that bee goop touching my skin makes my skin crawl and not to mention (view spoiler)[ the bee-goop printer eyeball EKKKKKK! do not want. (hide spoiler)]I really liked the characters even with their short introductions and the fact that the mom's a little one-note (nagging mother). I think the backstory behind all the chaos was believable too.The limited color palette is a little dry and ashy, but the splashes of orange are well-put. Also, I love the cover! It's bold and nicely-colored.more
- January 1, 1970Matthew ArchibaldEww.Well done, I guess, but eww.
- January 1, 1970Jessica (Spooky KidLit & We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone)If you like your humor absurdist, your science fiction mildly terrifying and mildly disgusting, and your nachos delivered by a bear wearing a sombrero, then friend, have I got the comic for you. Even if you don't think you like any of those things, trust me...I've got the comic for you. Apocalypse Taco not only exceeded my expectations, it put my expectations into a telepod from Cronenberg's The Fly, spliced them with a glittering unicorn puppy, and then exceeded THOSE super sparkly mutant expec If you like your humor absurdist, your science fiction mildly terrifying and mildly disgusting, and your nachos delivered by a bear wearing a sombrero, then friend, have I got the comic for you. Even if you don't think you like any of those things, trust me...I've got the comic for you. Apocalypse Taco not only exceeded my expectations, it put my expectations into a telepod from Cronenberg's The Fly, spliced them with a glittering unicorn puppy, and then exceeded THOSE super sparkly mutant expectations.Strange things are afoot at the Taco Bear. When Axl, Ivan, and Sid go on a late-night snack run for their school theatre troupe, they go through the drive-through and quickly realize that they're not in the same world that was on the other side of the staticky intercom and ursine sombrero enthusiast. They've stumbled into an alternate dimension, where they encounter carnivorous nachos, creatures made entirely out of teeth, and a grad student named Wendy with an indeterminate number of arms. I fear that I've said too much already, because this is a book that you need to experience for yourself, but I really want you to read this and I figured that killer nachos and tooth demons would be strong selling points.This book is rated for a middle grade audience, which I think is a perfect age range. Obviously it will appeal to adults as well — I am, arguably, an adult, and this book is my new obsession — but it's never too scary or gory for its intended audience. Young readers will love the ick factor, and Nathan Hale's art finds a miraculous balance between mind-bending horror and kid-friendly comedy. (The copy I reviewed hadn't even been colored yet, so I can't imagine how good it's going to look once I go buy myself the finished product.)The entire book, in fact, is the perfect combination of creepy, weird, and hilarious. I'm seriously considering renting a hot air balloon to drop copies of this near (but not directly on top of) unsuspecting pedestrians to spread the word about this book. It really has everything. Do you like comedy? Read Apocalypse Taco. Ya dig sci-fi? Have some Apocalypse Taco. You a horror fan? Apocalypse Taco time, my friend. Are weird comics your jam? Then I suggest a little Apocalypse Taco.Once you've read it and loved it, come back and let me know. And maybe help me out in my mission to spread the Apocalypse Taco gospel. I have a feeling that hot air balloon deposit is going to be pretty steep. My thanks to Amulet Books and Edelweiss+ for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.more
- January 1, 1970KellyCreepy! Would definitely recommend this to a fan of R.L. Stine-y fiction.
- January 1, 1970BrookeHmm. Not sure about this one. I feel the near-Akira level of body horror is too much for the 8-12 age range it's marketed for, but the story lacks enough substance to engage an older reader. Moments of action spliced with moments of exposition, but not a lot of cohesive storytelling. This review seems to be a minority opinion, though, so YMMV!more
- January 1, 1970Book Him DannoAs a mom with readers I am always looking for books my kids will love. My kids are ages K-7th grade and each one has bee reading since they were 4 years old. (I know freaky Right!)Each child has there own personality but when we are able to find a author or book series my kids all like I buy everything since book.Nathan Hale looks to be the next author who will be sitting on our 400 childrens book shelf.The story is a fun adventure that children will be able to understand and laugh as Sid, Alex, As a mom with readers I am always looking for books my kids will love. My kids are ages K-7th grade and each one has bee reading since they were 4 years old. (I know freaky Right!)Each child has there own personality but when we are able to find a author or book series my kids all like I buy everything since book.Nathan Hale looks to be the next author who will be sitting on our 400 childrens book shelf.The story is a fun adventure that children will be able to understand and laugh as Sid, Alex, and Ivan since of the biological engineering gone crazy. The author creates a fun story that is fast pace and keeps children of all ages and parents engaged until the story ends. My kids have now read this book almost every night before bed.Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of Nathan Hale Apocalypses Tacomore
- January 1, 1970Trisha ParsonsI was entertained and weirded out.
- January 1, 1970KristyGross and scary. Will haunt my dreams. Don’t know who I will give this to!
- January 1, 1970LauraA little too weird and creepy for me, but the right horror-loving teen or tween will eat this up.
- January 1, 1970Evan CarrI usually love Nathan Hale's books, but this was nowhere near the usual level of quality. He might just want to stick with what seems to turn out the best for him, historical graphic novels.
- January 1, 1970BSorry about this one. The plot was hard to follow and it wasn't interesting. WTH? I enjoy Nathan Hale's historical graphics, but this was a dud.
- January 1, 1970JennyI loved everything about this.
- January 1, 1970BriannaReview TK for Teenreads.com. Fun and enjoyable, definitely recommended! Loved the art!
- January 1, 1970JonathanNathan Hale's illustrations are always enjoyable to look at, but this was way out there weird. One of the strangest things I've ever read and hard to fully grasp what even occurred.
- January 1, 1970HeatherWhat did I just read???
Write a review