Book Review: Vivian Versus the Apocalypse

Vivian Versus The ApocalypseVivian Versus the Apocalypse

by Katie Coyle

Published: 5th September 2013 by Hot Key Books

Version: Paperback from publisher (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 4 sofas

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.

The primary reason I wanted to read this book was for the road trip. Perfect summer reads, I enjoy the character exploration that usually occurs on road trips. Aside from that, it also seemed to have another layer, relating to religion and the apocalypse.

We follow Viv as her parents are ‘taken’ after the Rapture, and she is left with her best friend to try and piece her life together. She decides to embark on a trip to discover the truth about what actually happened to her parents.

It was everything I wanted it to be, and more. It got me thinking about religion, and whether something like this could happen in the future. I think it is quite a contentious topic, so it was nice to see it tackled in a YA book. It also discussed the issue of Believers who were ‘left behind’, and whether they retained they faith throughout.

Although I don’t believe in religion personally, I am a huge believer of karma and fate.  So the book kind of spoke to me in that those left behind wondered whether it was for a reason, or if they weren’t good enough. But at the end of the day they are probably better people for it. To quote one of my favourite films, its called the pursuit of happiness for a reason. 

What I loved most about the book is Vivian herself. The personal development she undertakes on this journey is remarkable. I think it was most significant for me in the difference between the beginning, in which Peter asks her “What do you believe in?” and she cannot answer. If you compare this to her character at the end, she knows what she wants and has to make pretty tough decisions.

I wasn’t overly taken with the ending. I think it was left pretty open for a sequel, which is always frustrating! That being said, I can see why the author did it as it does suit the overall spirit of the book.

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse was a book that got me thinking about a possible future apocalypse, and also what a great excuse for a roadtrip it is!  A true tale of self discovery. 4 sofas!