Book Review: Apocalypse Baby by Virginie Despententes

The cover of Apocalypse Baby by Virginie Despentes. Image from FeministPress.org

Virginie Despentes is probably most widely known for her controversial novel (and film) Baise-Moi (translation: Rape Me), a revenge story.  She also wrote the novel King Kong Theory.  Now, for her third book: Apocalypse Baby. Published by the Feminist Press at CUNY, this novel first came out on April 14th of this year.  As a fictional mystery novel, it was both interesting and all over the place.

This novel follows the missing person case of Valentine, although that’s not how the plot originally started; rather, it started out as a simple “follow her and see what she’s doing” situation until the investigator, Lucie Toledo, loses track of Valentine.  Because Lucie has never had a case like this before, she enlists the help of the Hyena.

The Hyena is a very interesting character; she dates a lot of women, enjoys the occasional orgy (or two or three), and can predict what anyone is thinking in a second, flat.  The Hyena and Lucie create a very interesting and somewhat lopsided team.  As the novel progresses, these two characters each bring something to the table, whether it’s in regards to the case or the other individuals personal life.  We later see the Hyena break through to others while Lucie finds a new and exciting relationship.

While the first half of the book was interesting and exciting, the last few pages are absurd.  The ending makes no sense with what was happening prior in the novel.  It just…happens.  The events come out of the blue and not in any sort of logical way.  In this sense, I wouldn’t say this novel is very well made as it just kind of takes you for a loop and drops you mid-air.  I finished the book asking myself, “what?”

Looking at it in a deeper sense, however, shows what Despentes is really trying to say, albeit in an illogical way.  Through the medium of this novel, Despentes is discussing and critiquing modern France, the current environment around sexuality and sexual identity, as well as persons as a product of the 21st century.  I would recommend reading this, but just know that eventually the novel will arrive at a train wreck for its ending.

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