Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
Review by Ellen
Predictions of an apocalypse, a rapture saving true believers, have occurred numerous times throughout human history. But what happens to the people who are left behind?
This is the premise of Coyle’s novel and it’s a fascinating one. It was the originality of her plot idea that made me pick up the book in the first place and it didn’t disappoint.
A series of natural and manmade disasters have led more and more US citizens to believe in and dedicate themselves to the new Church of America. At first there was a small trickle of new Believers but by the time we meet the characters on Rapture’s Eve there are more Believers than not.
Quiet, hardworking and all round good student, Vivian Apple, would never have become friends with outgoing, party loving Harp without the church; not because they both attend services but because they are part of the increasingly small number of Non-Believers. Vivian’s old friends have all joined and so have her parents. Education is frowned upon and Believers are encouraged to show their piety in the dress and actions at all times.
Rebelling, Vivian and Harp spend Rapture’s Eve at a Non-Believer party, celebrating in New Year’s Eve-esque style. No-one there expects there to be a Rapture. The next morning a hungover Vivian sneaks back home, only to discover her parents missing; in their place are two human sized holes in their bedroom roof. Thousands of Believers from around America have been similarly raptured. But the Non-Believers are sceptical; have these people really risen into the sky to join their god? Vivian and Harp are determined to find out.
Meanwhile the post-Rapture world descends into chaos. Those left behind become increasingly religious, hoping for a second Rapture, and the country turns dangerous Non-Believers and anyone who is a bit different.
Vivian Versus the Rapture takes a clever look at how society’s norms can break down and the appeal of religious conviction in the face of a sometimes cruel world. Add it to your to read list.