By Katie Coyle, published by Hot Key Books (Winner of the 2012 Young Writers Fiction Prize).
Goodreads synopsis: A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated ‘Rapture’ - or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church’s thrall for too long, and she’s looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed ‘Rapture’, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling…
Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been ‘left behind’, they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving ‘Believer’ gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the ‘New Orphans’, Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning.
My Review: It was no wonder that Vivian Versus The Apocalypse won the 2012 Young Writers Prize! This book simply blew me away with its originality. I’ve never read a book centered around religion almost entirely- it was really interesting, and now the future of religion in America is looking a bit terrifying. The story begins with Viv, at a party that’s basically mocking the supposed Rapture- a date given by a American messenger who predicted that all believers would be awarded on this particular date by being sent up to Heaven. It was such an original idea- I’ve never read, or seen, a book like it before! Katie Coyle has successfully given this whole new American religion a great, detailed background- I understood it straight away and was really intrigued about it. Coyle’s writing was immaculate! It explained everything really well, and I was totally hooked on this because of the imagery.
The plot was really well structured. A huge chunk of the story was told as Viv went on a road trip across America to obtain answers: I really liked that aspect, because every few chapters I was transported to a different place in America, where there were more exciting and riveting plot twists in store for me! For the first part of the book, I wasn’t especially supportive of Viv- who just willingly left with her grandparents who she’d never known, leaving her friends behind. Then, everything definitely picked up as she returned, ready for a road trip with her old and new friends to seek the truth about the Rapture and the location of her parents. The book was just entirely unpredictable, really! The only thing that I didn’t like about the plot was the last few pages before the ending. Don’t get me wrong- the ending was brilliant! But I think that everything was revealed quite fast-Or was that just me reading quickly, eager for answers…?- and so I think the answers didn’t really sink in properly at first. I had to re-read a few passages.
I feel in love with the personality of Viv! She was a really, really great main character. Apart from the beginning, where she left for a while and I couldn’t understand her reasons behind it, she was an excellent protagonist. Strong, a little quirky, and modern, I found myself growing to love her character as the story progressed. I was really hoping she would find her parents! I could feel her emotions really well through Katie Coyle’s writing… especially when she discovered something about her family background quite a way into the book. Wow! That was a really shocking part. And very clever, too. Also, the other thing I adored about Viv was her growing relationship with the character Peter, who was the love interest for the story. They made such a sweet couple! He had a really great background, too. The ending left me a little heartbroken (I’m trying to write this without spoilers. Diiiiiificult!). I now need a sequel to find out what happens with the two of them!
Overall, Vivian Versus The Apocalypse was a truly brilliant read. It was definitely worthy of the prize for the young writers competition run by Hot Key Books and The Guardian! I adored the main characters, and I think that the story was one of the most original that I’ve read lately. Never before have I read a book much like this one! The religious side was really thought provoking, and scarily possible. I’d recommend this to any teenagers looking for an incredible, imaginative read.
I received a copy of Vivian Versus The Apocalypse from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.
My review of the other Young Writers Fiction Prize winner, THE RIG, will be up soon, so keep an eye out!