Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Rapture by Liz Jensen

The Rapture


Liz Jensen

Back cover: With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the unnerving relationship between Gabrielle, a physically and emotionally damaged therapist, and her patient, sixteen year old Bethany, who is incarcerated in a British psychiatric hospital for the brutal murder of her mother. Delving deep into the psyche of her fascinating, manipulative patient, Gabrielle is confronted by alarming coincidences between the girl's paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval--coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. 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, only to discover that in a world on the brink of apocalypse, belief is as precious-- and as dangerous--as life itself."

I received "The Rapture" by Liz Jensen courtesy of Shelf Awareness and didn't know anything about the author or the story. When I first started reading the book, wasn't entirely sure I was going to finish it. However, I pushed on and found the storyline to be addictive more than anything. I wanted to know what was going to happened. Not only to Gabrielle, but Bethany in particular. If anyone would ever get through to this child or believe her. The story is written in the first person perspective of the therapist, Gabrielle. It is a dark tale, filled with ecological disasters and threats of apocalyptic origins, and tales about the beginning of the end - the rapture.

Bethany has been subjected to every type of therapy possibly imaged, but nothing seems to work except Electro shock therapy. She's out of control most of the time, a very foul mouthed, young woman who had been raised by fundamentalist christian minister. Her parents had abused her most of her life, convinced her bad behavior was caused by the devil. She ended up brutally killing her mother and being incarcerated for life in the mental home. Due to the shock therapy, Bethany believes it has opened her mind and she is aware of what's happening ecologically out in the world. She draws or paints pictures and predicts disasters just before they occur to the exact date and almost exact time. Gabrielle and other scientists risk their reputations to try and help her when she predicts the world will end in an apocalyptic fashion.

"The Rapture" is unusual and you're never quite sure what direction the story is going to take. The writing is very descriptive, the mood dark and the subject matter difficult. It is not a light read.

Excerpt: Chapter one - page one, paragraph one.

"That summer, the summer all the rules began to change, June seemed to last for a thousand years. The temperature was merciless: ninety-eight, ninety-nine, then a hundred in the shade. It was heat to die in to nuts or to spawn in. Olk folk collapsed, dogs were cooked alive in cars, lovers couldn't keep their hands off each other. The sky pressed down like a furnace lid, shrinking the subsoil, cracking concrete, killing shrubs from the roots up. In the parched suburbs, ice cream trucks plinked their baby tunes into streets that sweated tar. Down at the harbor, the sea reflected the sun in tiny, barbaric mirrors. Asphysiated, you longed for rain. It didn't come."
Available as of today. Thank you to Shelf Awareness and Doubleday for providing me with a copy of the book.

Pages: 304
Publisher: Doubleday
Released: August 11, 2009
Genre: thriller

Other thoughts:

Caitlin of Chaotic Compendiums:
The heartbeat of this book is the narration of Gabrielle Fox who is trying to do her job, to live her life, & to sort out what being paraplegic is going to mean for how she lives. She is intelligent & ironic & self-pitying & often very funny. Thrust into a wheelchair, her dealings with Bethany & her predictions combine with her daily struggles to create a narrative that is both moving & entertaining."

Corinne of The Book Nest:
"The idea that Bethany may be more than just a violent loony kept me reading. Gabrielle's unique struggles struck a cord, although her attitude, for me, kept her from being a particularly sympathetic main character. And the truth of the matter is, the language in this book, mainly Bethany's, really turned me off. "Strong" language doesn't even do it justice - both the actual words used and the sexual content. So while the plot kept me reading until the end, I cannot recommend it without that warning."

Irvine Walsh of The Guardian:
It takes a considerable degree of writing skill to draw personalities that we care about, and yet keep the storyline in satisfactory transit. Liz Jensen does an excellent job here, while mapping out a generally convincing and scary environmental disaster in the not-too-distant future. I tend to be a bit cavalier on such issues, but was moved to think about them more earnestly after this book."

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