Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: September 5th 2013
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
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. (from Goodreads)
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse was probably one of the oddest books I've read in a while, but I really enjoyed it. I haven't read anything like it before and I have to hand it to Katie Coyle for her originality and for creating such a scary world where I could both believe and not believe the terrible things that were going on.
Vivian was a character I could easily sympathise with, even if I didn't always agree with her actions. She started off as a bit of a doormat; she always did what she told and rarely argued back or expressed her true opinions on anything even when it was causing her problems. But her character developed a lot throughout the book until she was eventually a lot more confident and comfortable with herself. I felt really sorry for her a lot of the time because, in my opinion, her parents were just awful. They lied, they treated her like she barely even mattered and they were willing to abandon her for some crazy stories uttered by a madman. Even if they did love her (which the book suggests they did) I don't think I could have been as mature or as forgiving as Vivian after what they did (I still would have been upset about them leaving, just not forgiving). I mean, Vivian didn't forgive them exactly but she was a lot more accepting that I would have been - I definitely wouldn't have been able to avoid a massive fight/arguing if they were my parents. And what Vivian said and did at the end (or, what she didn't do say and do) left me with mixed feelings because I kind of think she should have told the truth - but that's just me!
Harp was probably one of my favourite characters. She had suffered so much because of this "apocalypse"; her family was torn apart because of rioting fanatics and mobs and her parents abandoned her too, so she was left by herself. But even after all of that, she was a great friend to Vivian. She never pretended to be okay and she never asked Vivian to pretend either. She stuck by Vivian despite her own loss and supported her and I just loved her for that. You could see how much she was hurting but you could also see how much she valued Vivian and didn't want to lose her as well, and it really made me love their friendship. She also provided a few of the funny moments in the book and made me laugh.
Peter was an awkward kind of guy, but honestly, I couldn't really blame him. In a world where people had supposedly been "Raptured" and you couldn't walk five minutes on a street without passing a riot, I wasn't surprised that he wanted to hide a few things and avoid people. I pretty much guessed his big secret fairly early on but I don't think it was meant to come as a massive surprise to us as readers anyway. The romance with Vivian, while maybe not the best, was good because there were no cheesy insta-lovey declarations of love (yay!) and it was more about making the best of a terrible situation. I'm curious to see what happens in book two considering the ways things ended for Peter in this book. I have to admit, I found it a bit unbelievable that he would stay in such a dangerous place for [spoiler, highlight to read] his father, who was such a terrible man and a man he barely even knew (and claimed he didn't even want to know), just because it WAS his father and he was ill and needed looking after. I don't buy that whole blood is thicker than water thing when your father is responsible for the demise of so many people and isn't even capable of properly loving you [end of spoiler].
Plot-wise, I was so intrigued to find out what was really going on. It was quite clear from that start that this whole Church of America stuff was really shady. I couldn't believe so many people had subscribed to it when it advocated so much violence and prejudice and was clearly attempting to manipulate the masses with all this pro-capitalism propaganda - I mean, the "Parable of the Starbucks", really? I so wanted to know who was really controlling this movement and how they accomplished this whole "Rapture" without anyone finding out (the ending did kind of explain it but I wasn't too convinced and such a thing was plausible without discovery and I hope more is explained in the next book). I was kind of disappointed that we didn't get to see what was happening outside of America and what other countries were thinking. The Church of America seemed to only exist in the US because apparently God loved America the most and only wanted to save them (-_-people really believed this?) so it would have been interesting to find out what was going on in other countries and what their thoughts were on the matter.
Overall, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse was a compelling read with a very interesting premise. Recommended to people who want something a bit different, but who also like suspense, action/thriller and a little bit of romance.