January 5, 2015

Latest Read: Vivian Apple at the End of the World (Vivian Apple #1) by Katie Coyle

Vivian Apple at the End of the World (Vivian Apple #1) by Katie Coyle
Publication date: Jan. 6, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary/Dystopia
Source: Received ARC via BEA
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
Vivian Apple at the End of the World is this wacky, satirical and thoughtful book about a supposed “Rapture” in which only true Believers of the evangelical Church of America will be saved and taken into heaven. And the non-believers, like Vivian Apple, will be left to the impending doom of apocalypse. She’s never believed in any of this, unlike her devout parents who tried to convert her, until she comes home the morning after the “Rapture” and finds her parents gone, with only two holes in the roof as proof. It sends her and the entire nation in a panic over these unexplained disappearances and suddenly no one knows what to believe. But Vivian knows she wants answers and she sets out to find them with her best friend Harp and their new buddy Peter, as they road trip across the country.

Pre-rapture, Vivian is this meek, straight-edged, constantly follow the rules kind of girl who wants her parents’ approval. This makes her one rebellious moment — the rejection of her parents’ newfound religion — a turning point. It alienates her from her parents and even her childhood friends. But her parents’ disappearance shakes her completely, as well as the rising violence of those left behind, and post-rapture Vivian is no longer content to sit on the sidelines. She takes charge, she wants answers and is determined to find them. (I like Vivian 2.0 personally!) Hence the road trip with Harp and Peter. Her recent friendship with Harp was born out of their mutual disbelief. The differences between them are so apparent and yet, there’s this loyalty and love between them that carried the book (even when Harp was being kinda bratty). And what’s an apocalypse without a little romance? It doesn’t overwhelm the story and I found myself rooting for Vivian and Peter to find some happiness amidst all the chaos.

Their journey cross-country leads them to different places and people and allows them to uncover secrets, not only about themselves, but about the Church of America. But what stood out to me the most was the underlying question of faith and religion. Vivian is asked a number of times, “What do you believe?” and I think that’s something we all ask ourselves at one point if not all the time. The author definitely has a lot of interesting things to say and I was engaged in the story and the characters from the get-go.

(Minor) Reservations
I think watching The Leftovers, which has a similar concept, helped to wrap my brain around this world and just go with it. And I feel like you do have to approach the book open-mindedly as certain things aren’t fully explained. (But there is a Book 2 so I’m hoping for more answers then!) I also wish we had learned more about Vivian's parents. They play an important role and we do learn about them but I didn't quite understand their motivations and I wanted to.

Do I recommend?
I do! It’s not a book I would typical pick up but that cover (which I adore!) and just something about it told me I should give it a try. And I’m really glad I did!

6 comments:

  1. Okay, I've heard of this book but haven't taken the time to read the summary which is such a shame! I've brushed it off BUT it is a book that I otherwise would've definitely grabbed in a heartbeat! I love books with these religious themes like this and who can resist a road trip? Plus I totally agree about that cover. I want to read this one ASAP. It sounds like an Asheley book and your thoughts are the first I've read. Thanks so much for sharing this, Rachel. (:

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  2. I don't usually read religious themed books, but I enjoy watching the Leftovers! I might check this one out... It sounds interesting! You know, there's also a show on Starz, haven't watched it though, called the Missing that I think has a similar premise as well.. Must be a hot topic!

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  3. I want to check this one out. It's on my TBR for reading soon. Thanks for the review!

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  4. I'm glad you liked this one! I read it a few months ago and adored it! It's definitely a different kind of dystopian novel. And I can't wait to get more answers!

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  5. That cover is gorgeous... and also misleading haha. I thought it would be some contemporary not a satire type story about a Rapture! That aspect only makes me more interested in it. From the sounds of things, Vivian is a great character. Hopefully I can read about her some day!

    Thanks for the great review!

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  6. Honestly, based on the concept of Vivian Apple, I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to read this book. But then, you go and make such a convincing argument for it, and now I kind of want to give it a shot! It's mostly a character draw for me since I think Vivian, Harp and Peter sound like people I'd like to get to know.

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