This was a somewhat strange book. Was it a cautionary tale? A satire? There were moments when I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to be frightened or amused.
The "post-apocalyptic" fundamentalist rapture trope gets a somewhat new angle in this book, which comes just shy of straining believability. Its messages about the evils of capitalism and being a "follower" are a little heavy-handed at times, and its character development mostly sketchy. Still, I liked that it was sort of a combination between a post-apocalyptic story with a somewhat realist bent and a typical road trip teen novel, complete with burgeoning love story. The love story was not as compelling as the relationship between Vivian and her best friend, Harp, though. This book left me just curious enough to want to read the next one(s) in the series, despite some lingering incredulity.
So, why so many stars for a book that left me somewhat perplexed about how I was supposed to feel about it all? Despite that, this book moves along at a nice clip and held my interest to the last page, even as I was analyzing its shortcomings. The road trip aspect especially gives it a sense of momentum. And in a very crowded genre, this one was just different enough to be noticeable. The fact that the spent the mid-section of the book in South Dakota didn't hurt, either. :)
My reading choices have not been great in December. Man, I found this book really bland. Especially since its a Apocalyptic type story line. I couldn't get into the characters or the plot at all. Its lucky I finished it to be honest.
Thousands of people suddenly disappear, including Vivan's parents who not so long ago tried to get her to join the church with them. But she refused. Now the rest of the world is left panicking believing the rapture is going to happen in six months. Vivian and her friends must find the answers.
I disliked Vivian so much. There isn't much to her character and she comes off extremely boring, as does Peter and her other friends.
This might be one of those books that its not for me but might be for you.
This was one of the reads I was looking forward to the most in 2014, but I didn't manage to read it till last month.
Alternative Title: Vivian Apple versus the Apocalypse.
Vivian didn't believe it when the end of the world was predicted, even though her parents were strong believers. Imagine her surprise when she arrives home from a party to see her parents gone. And there are holes in the ceiling. Has the Apocalypse begun?
I quite like this story. It was not exactly what I expected it to be. I thought it would be more an apocalyptic tale of survival, but really it's just what it says it is. A road trip looking for the truth. In - I dare say - a very creepy environment. Religious fanaticism is always creepy of course, but in this book it really got on my nerves.
Some things felt a bit weird though. The trip with the grandparents to New York didn't make much sense to me. However, it was still an interesting new series, and I'm looking forward to the next instalment!
This is the first book in the new series about Vivian Apple. The second book is called Vivian Versus America/ Vivian Apple Needs A Miracle.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
The one where I talk about the last three chapters. And the plot hole.
This is a book that definitely requires willing suspension of disbelief, but even with that, I am troubled by the concept.
There are both too few Believers raptured, and too many. Let me explain (and this review is about to become spoilery, so if that bothers you, skip it).
According to the story, there are approximately 2,000 people who are raptured with Vivian's parents. According to the CDC, the number of people who die every day is 3x this amount - around 7100 per day (I got this by dividing the annual death rate of 2,596,993 per year, divided by 365). So, basically, on the day that the "rapture" occurred, there were an additional number of people who died of natural/accidental causes that is three times the number of people "raptured." That week alone, almost 50,000 Americans disappeared, forever, from the lives of their loved ones.
There are 300 million people alive in America right now. 2000 is a blip on the radar, and dot on the graph. The idea that the rapture was so tiny, but yet everyone seemed to "know" someone (or a couple of someones) who were raptured, well, it frankly defies common sense.
This is what I call a plot hole.
The other problem with the number, though, is more complex. Because
It's all a fraud. We knew that, right? Through the whole book we're meant to believe that the missing Believers have fled to a secret compound where they are living in splendor and giggling at the chaos that their behavior has induced. But that isn't what happened - at least, not exactly.
Nope, they got Jonestowned. They were enticed to the compound under false pretenses, where they were murdered (sacrificed) because (and this is where it gets complicated and really unbelievable) there is actually a mentally ill founder, and a triad of evil capitalists (like Dr. Evil x 3) who co-opted the religion in order to sell guns, Bibles and canned goods. Also, misogyny, which is free.
But there are no bodies, which is just, I can't. Do you know how hard it would be to secretly get rid of 2,000 human corpses? Like, really, really hard. And yet the mentally ill guy and his sidekick managed to burn them all? Without a crematorium? In California? Without anyone noticing the rank smell of smoldering human flesh?
And the reaction of the characters to the fact that their parents have been, essentially, sacrificed under false pretenses to the greater God of the Almighty Dollar is fairly indifferent.
So, I'm of two distinct minds about the book. Love/Not love. I'll definitely read the sequel, though, because I want to know if Katie Coyle can really pull this off, plug the holes, solve the problems, and wrap up the story in a way that is convincing.