[REVIEW] Vivian Versus the Apocalypse – Katie Coyle

Katie Coyle
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse [also published as Vivian Apple at the End of the World] (Vivian Apple, Book 1)
Hot Key Books (UK: 5th September 2013); Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US: 6th January 2015)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (CA Paperback) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

TRIGGER WARNING: Hate-crime.

So your parents have been Raptured, and you’re Left Behind. Do you stay in town with your best friend, or go to live with your new legal guardians? To Vivian Apple’s credit, she at least gives living with her grandparents a try and lasts a few weeks with them. This is a YA book wherein adults are not automatically disregarded, or conveniently absent. Indeed, Vivian’s mother has an interesting story, too.

Ultimately, though, the most nuanced character is Vivian’s best friend. It’s bad enough that Harpreet Janda’s parents are gone, but an even more traumatising event leaves her with no reason to stay in Pittsburgh. And when Viv’s love interest joins the road trip to California, Harp is the third wheel, which is awkward, but she still has more wit than Viv and Peter combined.

Edie doesn’t add to the plot, but maybe she’s there to represent someone who’s okay with being Left Behind – for now, anyway. Rumours of a second Rapture (before the Apocalypse) are said to be limited in the number of people who’ll be saved, so some treat their Left Behind life as a competition.

Wambaugh doesn’t add to the plot, either, but it’s great to have such a positive adult role model in a YA book, and Wambaugh’s an awesome teacher. I suppose she’s also included for the scene that proves that having faith, being a Believer, doesn’t automatically mean the person does the awful things that their religion may unfortunately be stereotyped for. Indeed, the novel’s ending really goes to show that there’s something more powerfully deadly than the Church.

Katie Coyle’s witty Left Behind characters struggle to find something worth believing in, as hope fuels their drove across the USA. Vivian Apple develops from a meek girl into a headstrong young woman, in a story that shows different aspects of faith, and the sometimes devastating effect the possibility of salvation can have.

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