Faced with a society on the brink of collapse, Vivian’s formerly liberal parents convert to The Church of America, which promises The Rapture – a permanent place in Heaven on a pre-ordained date – for those who are devout. Vivian has little time for this all-encompassing religion, or for its self-appointed leader Beaton Frick until she wakes on the day of The Rapture to find that two holes in their bedroom ceiling are all that remain of her parents.
Vivian and Harp, her closest friend and Peter, a boy to whom she is attracted, leave the post-Rapture chaos to travel across America to find her only surviving relative – but she, too, has been gulled by Frick’s promises and so the journey to find him and discover the truth begins – a journey fraught with mortal danger, emotional and physical exhaustion and a level of narrative tension which kept me entirely enthralled.
Coyle keeps the reader on edge and operating on guesswork, cleverly replicating the plight of Vivian and her friends. Old and trusted alliances are broken and personal revelations test the emotional bond between the three protagonists but the message at the end of the book is one of hope – subtly conveyed without the polished neatness all threads being tied, all problems solved. The power of the individual is celebrated but realistically counterbalanced by unexpected betrayals and deceptions. The end result is a book which makes its mark – not only in holding readers’ attention, but in mirroring many of contemporary society’s preoccupations and concerns. In a society where individual satisfaction is more urgent than the needs of the community, the resonances are clear.