Monday, May 9, 2016

Vivian Apple at the End of the World

Coyle, K. (2015). Vivian Apple at the End of the World. (Vivian Book 1). Dreamscape Media, LLC.

YA / AUDIO / Contemporary / Speculative

I gave this audio book 4 out of 5 Stars, though it's likely I would give it a 3 if I had read it instead of listened.

BLURB: (from Goodreads) A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated 'Rapture' -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church's thrall for too long, and she's looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed 'Rapture', her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling...

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realizes she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been 'left behind', they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving 'Believer' gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the 'New Orphans', Viv soon begins to realize that the Rapture was just the beginning.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: This is a great audio book for a short road trip.  The narration, performed by Julia Whelan, is well done, and even when the female narrator does male voices, it works just fine.   The author, Katie Coyle, does a great job of telling a story that keeps readers/listeners engaged. Yes, not-so-subtle hints are dropped, but there also is an edge of just enough doubt that those reading/listening will want confirmation they are right (but prepare also for surprise when wrong).

The story line and angle that this book took on the rapture are indeed unique, though of course the premise isn't.  As I listened to the story unfold, I found it so perverse that people would buy into what was being preached; I didn't want to believe anyone in our society could be so horribly mislead.  However, the story becomes unsettling given the real life examples of what ideas many in our society are supporting today.  To that end, I found myself nodding in agreement when main character Vivian says, "It's funny now to think that we were ever confused by extreme action taken in the name of God."

I cannot comment on the writing itself since I listened to the audio book, but it does seem that the author asks readers/listeners to accept a lot of things at face value and not think them through.  Additionally, some of the characters' reactions to really dire and devastating situations do not feel authentic and there are some huge plot holes that are just more fun to ignore.  I am giving it 4 stars because pitfalls and all, I wanted to keep listening to hear how things turned out. I sincerely hope that the sequel, Vivian Apple Needs A Miracle (published 9/2015), ties-up the loose ends and explains the oddities that are found in book one.

Thank you to SYNC 2016 for providing a free audio download (available through 5/12/16) to anyone who wants it, just because SYNC is awesome.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Katie Coyle grew up in Fair Haven, New Jersey, and has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Her debut novel, VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015), was named one of the forty best YA novels of all time by Rolling Stone, and was followed by a sequel, VIVIAN APPLE NEEDS A MIRACLE. Her short fiction has won the Pushcart Prize, and has been featured or is forthcoming in BEST AMERICAN NON-REQUIRED READING, One Story, The Southeast Review, and Critical Quarterly, among others. She lives in San Francisco with her husband.  

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