Vivian versus the Apocalypse – Katie Coyle
When you spend your life thinking that your parents and neighbours are a little crazy for believing that the end is actually nigh and that God is coming to rescue a chosen few and then a random few thousand people disappear seemingly having been raptured, what exactly are you supposed to do with yourself? Well, that is the exact situation that Vivian Apple finds herself in after the rapture apparently happens.
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth.
For some bizarre reason, this book is also known as Vivian Apple at the End of the World, but I’m not entirely sure why. Basically, this review is for that book and Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, which is the title my copy has written on it. Anyway.
This has been on my radar for a little while now, a few of my faves reviewed the ARC when it was first sent out by Hot Key Books (who are still my favourite publisher and who I would love to take a look at my manuscripts, please and thank you) and finally at Christmas, it was one of the titles I spent my Waterstones voucher on from my brother and his family. And even though it has been sat on my shelf since then, I finally got around to picking it up six months later. Oops. From the blurb, I knew this would be a story I would find interesting. I don’t follow any religion, though the idea of it has always interested me. I guess I just haven’t found one yet that I’m completely happy with, despite that, I find religion and the utter devotion some people have to their gods deeply fascinating. What we have here is the story of a regular teenage girl, in regular old America whose parents and neighbours are all devout followers of the Church of America, run by a chap that would appear to be a little on the fanatical side. He predicts that the rapture is coming and that only the most committed of his followers would be going to heaven. Vivian of course thinks this is nonsense, as I’m sure I would if I were in her place, that is, until she returns home from a party to find holes in her ceiling and her parents missing.
Now, you might think that this is going to be a bit preachy, or even a bit anti religion. It is neither of those things. Vivian versus the Apocalypse / Vivian Apple at the end of the world/ whatever title this book is masquerading under doesn’t poke fun at those with faith, it doesn’t lecture those without. Of course there are moments where the integrity of the Church of America is called out, the leaders of it are deemed to be a bit psychotic, but there are moments where other religions are shown, other people’s beliefs are talked about and features a wonderful line about not tarring everyone with a belief system with the same brush. People who go around picketing funerals in the name of God are not the same as people who find comfort in going to church. Extremists are not the entire religion. This book explains that wonderfully, without seeming too much like its trying to teach a lesson. Plus, it reads a lot like a dystopian. Which I like, you might have noticed that if you’re a long time reader.
In fact, VvstA (I’ve been doing this thing recently where I’ve been shortening a books title, does it work or does it just make me look ridiculously lazy?) is a lot of things. It is a dystopia, it is a road trip, it is a romance, it is awkward teenagers finding their way, it is adventure, it is mystery and it is Vivian Apple coming to terms with the fact that her parents aren’t who she thought they were. Also, there is a character called Leah. And well, I love a book featuring characters that share my name and of course, it is a book about what happens when the world as you know it has ended.
I pretty much fell in love with each and every character in this book from the moment I was introduced to them. From the second I met Vivian, I knew she was going to be a very special protagonist and by God was she. She managed to balance being a scared teenager with normal teenage feelings and a slight crush on a boy, with the wanting to please her parents and the wanting to please herself and the having to be a bad ass. None of it felt forced and all of it felt like they were natural elements of Vivan’s personality. There was also Harp, by God, I loved Harp and Peter, who had me at his first description. Literally, he couldn’t be more my type if he tried. I’ve been having a real issue with falling for fictional characters recently… I just finished watching Deathnote and now I’m considering buying a poster with Misa on….
Focus Leah, you’re reviewing something here.
Apparently this is now a series and I for one would love to know what further adventures Vivian and her cohorts get up to in a post rapture society and I think you guys should get on it too.