By Liz Jensen
Genre: Thriller, dystopian, Adult
Format: Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 7th 2010 by Bloomsbury
It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase.
But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief. Determined to make a fresh start, and shake off memories of her wrecked past, she leaves London for a temporary posting as an art therapist at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, home to one hundred of the most dangerous children in the country. Among them: the teenage killer Bethany Krall.
Despite two years of therapy, Bethany is in no way rehabilitated and remains militantly nonchalant about the bloody, brutal death she inflicted on her mother. Raised in evangelistic hellfire, the teenager is violent, caustic, unruly, and cruelly intuitive. She is also insistent that her electroshock treatments enable her to foresee natural disasters—a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion.
But as Gabrielle delves further into Bethany’s psyche, she begins to note alarming parallels between her patient’s paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval—coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. When a brilliant physicist enters the equation, the disruptive tension mounts—and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator or a harbinger of global disaster on a scale never seen before? Where does science end and faith begin? And what can love mean in “interesting times”?
With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the increasingly unnerving relationship between the traumatized therapist and her fascinating, deeply calculating patient. As Bethany’s warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices in a world in which belief has become as precious - and as murderous—as life itself.
Often I find that books which tread a thin line between one thing and another generally fail. The Rapture (which treads many thin lines) does not.
There is a lot going on in this book, a lot of ‘heavy’, a lot of theory vs. belief. On the surface this book is about a woman trying to pick herself up again after a terrible accident, but it is about a lot more than that. It is about climate change, religion, disability, mental illness, love, psychic beliefs and science. There is a lot going on and a lot to take in.
I personally loved it and found it all fascinating. (I am studying for a degree in Environmental Science and have covered a lot of the theories and scientific fact bought up in this novel.) It could have been easy for this book to be completely impossible to understand, but it isn’t, it is not even complicated. Jensen has made sure that her writing makes sense and that you don’t have to be studying science for it to be clear.
I loved the main character (Gabrielle) there is a lot going on with her and her thoughts are often conflicted and troubled, she has understandably bouts of self-pity but always pushes through it and picks herself up as much as she can.
A lot of Gabrielle’s problems stem from Bethany, a 16 year old troubled patient of hers who can seemingly predict natural disasters, and thinks the rapture is coming. I really liked Bethany which is odd because there is little to like about her. She is violent, rude, manipulative and cruel but she is also incredibly vulnerable. Her ever changing relationship with Gabrielle was brilliant to read.
The Rapture is an absorbing, thrilling and at times terrifying read that I struggled to put down. It is smart without being confusing and is brilliantly written.
4 out of 5 stars
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