Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
*ARC Provided by the publisher at ALA Midwinter 2015 - Thank you! This in no way impacted my opinions of this book.*
Ever since the evangelical Church of America announced three years ago the date of the rapture, life has gotten strange for Vivian Apple. Her parents become Believers (as do thousands of others), but Vivian just doesn't buy it. However when the day comes and her parents are gone, maybe it really is the end of the world. She eventually grows restless and sets out on a cross-country road trip with her best friend Harp and the mysterious Peter, desperate to find the truth.
A recent pick for the Tumblr Reblog Bookclub, Vivian Apple has been all over my social media feeds lately so I was glad at the opportunity to pick it up for myself. In her debut novel, Coyle keeps the pace of the story clipping along and presents a diverse cast that keep readers thinking. The story really gets interesting once Vivian and friends set out on their road trip, but it does take a while to get there.
Coyle takes on a lot of big questions that hit particularly close to home to me. Vivian sees the world, especially post-Rapture, as black and white: there are the Believers and the non-Believers. However, she her categories don't allow for nuance, for differences. While it's true that the Church of America has taken over many aspects of everyday life, it's not the only religion that exists or that people believe in anymore. This is best showed in a scene in which Vivian is critical of a former teacher whom she looks up to and her parents for being Catholic - to her, believing in God at all puts an individual in the evil Believer camp, fanatical and closed minded, never to be trusted. She firmly does not believe in any sort of higher power, which is perfectly fine. But to me, Vivian is just as closed minded as those she criticizes when she refuses to consider that faith and religion has never been so cut and dry as she imagines it to be.
So I do have some objections to Vivian and how she tries to divide the world. It also took a while for the story to gain some steam, but eventually it got there. All in all, I like that this book challenged me. I like that it made me think, that it didn't shy away from big, often taboo topics. I like that most of the characters felt fully formed and that the situations, for the most part, felt realistic. I'd even be interested in borrowing the sequel from my local library when it comes out eventually.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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