As a Christian raised in the church and fed on the teachings of the Holy Bible, I have certainly heard of the rapture and been aware that this event could happen someday as foretold in the scriptures, "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."(-1 Thess. 4:17.) These, however, are not the words of Jesus but of his disciple Paul. Jesus, when he was alive, didn't speak of a rapture. He admonished his followers to love God with their whole heart and to treat others as they want to be treated. (Matthew 22:37-40) In other words he emphasized love and kindness. Whether a rapture will actually occur or not, where believers are lifted from his earth in the twinkling of an eye, no one really knows, but there are certainly some believers who put more emphasis on these teachings than others. All this I've said to introduce Vivian Apple at the End of the World and why I selected to read it.
Vivian Apple's parents are true believers in the teachings of the evangelical church of America and devoutly follow the lessons put forward by it's founder Pastor Frick. They want Vivian to become a believer too, but she just doesn't believe in a religion which is so oppressive to women so she shuns their attempts to get her involved. One day after she returns home after a night-long party she discovers two holes in the roof of her house and no parents. Reports come in from all quarters of other believer also disappearing and vanishing in a similar fashion. It is described as the rapture. Vivian is left with the nagging question of where did her parents go and why was she left behind. The world has suddenly become a strange and scary place. With her friends Harp and Peter she sets out to discover the truth.
Vivian and her friends are not really heroes. They are more like the characters they are designed to be, scared teenagers just trying to find answers and not liking what they are figuring out. In this post-apocalyptic story the readers are asked to contemplate the questions of blind faith and mass-consumerism right along with the characters. What we discover along the way is not pretty, but the truth often isn't.
The book had many surprising aspects. I was ready for a world thrown into chaos after the rapture of so many believers. I expected more actual scriptures from the Bible and less from the book of Frick, even though they were very insightful, often humorous. The ending, though wrapped up on a hopeful note, does leave the door open for a sequel. What will happen to Vivian and her friends now that they have discovered the truth remains a vital question which needs to be answered.
I suspect that teens who enjoy reading post-apocalyptic stories will find a lot to like in Vivian Apple. Ultimately its messages about feminism and consumerism are really more poignant than the messages about religion.
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
30 books Summer Reading Challenge
14 / 30 books. 46% done!