It is the future (or a re-imagined present), and America has been taken over by the conservative, pseudo-Christian Church of America. It’s not that America has become a theocracy. It’s just that the Church of America founder, Beaton Frick, has predicted the end of the world, and everyone is obsessed. He’s the new “thing,” as is preparing for the rapture, which will come on a night in March and all the faithful will be taken up.
Even though a good majority of Americans follow the Book of Frick, as it came to be called, Vivian Apple doesn’t. Her parents do, though. They’re faithful believers. And so, when the “rapture” comes, they disappear, leaving Vivian behind. However, after floundering for a bit, Vivian determines that the rapture was a hoax, and she sets out from her hometown in Pittsburg to the Church headquarters outside of San Francisco with her friend Harp to look for answers. They pick up a boy along the way, Peter, who seems to be on their side. Little do they know what’s waiting for them.
On the one hand, having the Christian rapture be the focus of a post-apocalyptic story is a novel concept. In fact, this is what compelled me to pick up the book. I’m often curious about the way religion is portrayed in mainstream fiction, and I thought this could be an interesting take on it. However, it wasn’t a kind look at religion or those who believe. They come off badly in this book, with the faithful portrayed as people who believe anything they hear without question and are willing to commit acts of violence for the sake of their belief. More than once, I cringed at the “religion” and marveled at what I saw as pot shots against the religious right.
I really liked the way Coyle set up a slight romance between Vivian and Peter, and that Harp was Indian, and that it was a part of her identity. I did like Vivian’s character arc, and how she grew and became more willing to make decisions.
But getting past the way religion was portrayed was tough for me.
Rated: High for teenage drinking and a lot of swearing, including multiple f-bombs. There is also frequent off-screen violence.