Vivian Versus The Apocalypse was one of the winners of the Hot Key Young Writers’ Prize 2012 and the second I read the summary I knew it was a book I really wanted to read – road trip novel set after a possible rapture, what more do you need?
The rapture is coming. At least, according to the Church of America anyway. When Vivian returns home from a party on the morning of the supposed rapture she is shocked to see her parents are missing and two holes in the ceiling. As she tries to carry on with life, she begins to suspect her parents may be alive. Queue a road trip across the states with her best friend Harp, Edie, a pregnant Believer left behind and the enigmatic Peter who claims to know where the Church of America is based.
I loved this book. I’m really interested in the way cults and new religious movements work so I knew that this book would really work for me in that respect. The way in which the Church of America and the belief in the Rapture was explained in the book worked well and offered some thought-provoking questions about belief, faith and power. The whole cult like movement felt very realistic and didn’t take too much imagination to envisage the events that open the book happening in reality. There’s almost an element of black comedy in the way the Church of America is evoked and this really complemented the novel and ensured it wasn’t overtly bleak.
Vivian was a really strong narrator and this made the book stand out and any predictable moments within the plot not read as so cliched. I loved her relationship with her best friend, Harp too as well as the character of Edie, a pregnant Believer left in the possible Rapture.
I’m attempting to avoid any spoilers here, but there are several twists of sorts towards the end of the novel and while one of them really worked well and was powerful to read, I wasn’t entirely sold on one of them.
An intelligent and compelling debut that is a worthy winner of the Hot Keys Young Writers’ Prize. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for any future books by Katie Coyle. I received a free review copy from the publishers and as always the way in which I obtain a book does not affect the tone or content of my review. Vivian Versus The Apocalypse is published by Hot Key Books and available to buy now.