Title: Vivian Versus the Apocalypse
Author: Katie Coyle
Who’s it for? mid-older teens
What’s it about? The Rapture has arrived. That’s right the Rapture. Not that Vivian Apple believes in the Rapture, but it’s hard to ignore the two holes in her parents bedroom ceiling when she returns home the day after the big event. Things descend into chaos from there as Vivian and her best friend Harp set off across America to find the truth, because the Rapture was just the beginning…
What’s good about it? So much. Like just the title is great to begin with. I bought this book purely for the title alone.
The whole idea behind the story is fantastic. I can absolutely see why Katie Coyle won the Hot Key Young Writers Prize 2012 with this one. I thought I knew where it was going and then there was this brilliant twist that came out of nowhere that just really made the story for me. Is the Rapture real? Is it not? And if it’s not real then where have all the missing people gone? Is this really the end of the world? I was extremely happy that most of those questions had answers!
Vivian is a brilliant main character. She’s meek and tries her best to be good, and yeah, when the world is going crazy she actually does just want an adult to take care of her, but she is also strong and cynical and smart and capable. She is definitely the hero of her own story.
She’s also supported by her best friend Harp. Harp is occasionally annoying, continuously wild, a little unhinged but ultimately loyal. She’s quite funny and is a definite contrast against Vivian’s tendency towards meekness.
I just love the world building that’s gone on here. Just the little things, like petrol going up to $13 odd dollars a gallon, really made this story for me. It’s also a fascinating look at fundamentalism and is at times uncomfortable.
What’s bad about it? It’s a slow burn to begin with, which some people might get a little frustrated by, but it’s so worth sticking with!
It’s an open ending. This is only bad if there’s never a sequel.
The verdict? This stays with you after you’ve finished reading. It’s too thought-provoking not to. And while stories about the end of the world and teen road trips are nothing new this feels fresh and original. The characters are fantastic and utterly human in all the best, and the worst, ways. The most frightening part of this is how plausible it seems. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine things happening in this way.
I normally hate endings that are left open, but here it’s cleverly done with enough threads tied up that I didn’t mind. Although I reserve the right to change my mind on that one if it turns out there’s never going to be a sequel.
In all it’s an intelligent, fresh, deeply engrossing read that I thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely recommend!