Quick review for a progressive read. Dude, this book was a wild ride on the whole. I wasn’t expecting much from “Vivian Apple at the End of the World”, but for a dystopian novel about a religious rapture that takes place with a cross country road trip and self-discovery/conspiracy/family story rolled into one – it tackles a lot. That might be the reason why it’s a story that’s likely to be hit or miss.
This book has a lot of religious contexts within it, but it’s a part of the set piece of the world. The predominant religion is determined by the Book of Frick, a religious leader who says the rapture will have two comings – each impacting the world in some rather apocalyptic ways and spreading chaos throughout the United States. In the midst of things, Vivian Apple is abandoned by her parents, thought to be lost with the first coming of the rapture, and taken up by her grandparents who reveal to her that her parents weren’t all that they seemed. Vivian eventually returns home, determined to figure out what happened to her parents and taking a road trip with her best friend and a random boy (Peter) who has a mysterious connection with the “believers” among them.
The story has waves of interesting conflict, but other moments dragged their heels a bit much, to the point where when I put this book down, it was hard to pick back up in a slower moment. Thankfully, I did end up finding a steady rhythm, and after a few weeks I finally finished it. (Though I blame it for making me hit something of a reading slump. Urgh.)
It was a good book, but not one of my favorite dystopian stories on the whole. I’m definitely planning to (and intrigued enough to) read the sequel. I really liked Vivian’s best friend Harp, and there’s plenty of cultural diversity in this book to be had, though I wish the presentation of the story had better turns. It tackles a lot – particularly when it comes to faith, and feels like an ambitious narrative, but I’m wondering if some pieces of it were overwhelming the narrative on the whole and could’ve had better focal and pacing points.
Overall score: 3/5 stars.