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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review (sort of): The Rapture by Liz Jensen

In The Rapture by Liz Jensen, the world is a place of overwhelming heat, frequent natural disasters, suicide bombings, morgues “bursting at the seams” and prophets of doom and destruction. The world’s religions are filled with fanatical, self-righteous and extreme believers. It is truly a world on the abyss of despair and death. Gabrielle, a therapist in some pretty serious need of therapy herself, has began working in a British Psychiatric Hospital after a devastating accident has left her alone and in a wheel chair for life. She is assigned a patient, Bethany, who has been incarcerated in the hospital for the horrible murder of her mother. Bethany has violent detailed fantasies about events that then come true, and when she begins to predict a cataclysm that will change the world forever, Gabrielle discovers that Bethany may be right, and the world is on the edge of the precipice, and tipping faster and faster off the ledge.

I can’t call this a full review, as I only made it to page 116, turned to the back and read the last chapter. That’s when I gave up, and the book hit the official, Did Not Finish list. Liz Jensen has written a novel about a dystopian world, playing into all our fears, both real and media driven. I usually like good apocalyptic/post apocalyptic stories. But I think I like the Hollywood versions though. You know, the stories where the plucky heroine and brave hero manage to survive against all odds, and as they gaze out over the devastation, a little bunny hops through the scene and stops by a little lone daisy, symbolizing the rebirth of the world and the chance to begin anew? Not so much in The Rapture, no bunnies or daisies here, just scorched earth and ruin, a heroine thinking…

“…Nothing but hard burnt rock and blasted earth, a struggle for water, for food for hope. A place where every day will be marked by the rude, clobbering battle for survival and the permanent endurance of regret, among the ruins of all we have created and invented, the busted remains of the marvels and commonplaces we have dreamed and built, strived for and held dear: food, shelter, myth, beauty, art, knowledge, material comfort, stories, gods, music, ideas, ideals, shelter.”

…. Alrighty then, sorta want to go drink myself to death now and I didn’t even read the middle part of the book. And I hardly ever drink. I will admit that this depressing point of view has always been sort of my own perspective when it comes to the horrible disasters that man can inflict on our world. For example, I’ve always figured that if a nuclear bomb was headed in my general vicinity, I’d really rather be right there at the spot it’s gonna hit. I’m a big chicken and instant obliteration seems preferable to me over long-term suffering. (Of course that’s probably from reading On the Beach and Hiroshima as a teenager.)

I also kind of had a problem with the way the author portrayed religion. While I’m not a terribly faithful person myself, I have a certain amount of envy of the faithful. I know there are wacko’s out there, who would cram their own version of truth down all of our unfaithful throats. And said wacko's are sure we’d actually like it if we allowed said cramming to occur. But there are also huge numbers of faithful people, whose beliefs are pretty soundly mocked in this book. Do I believe in the Rapture? Ehh…probably not so much. But am I willing to think that maybe someday I might wake up to a world where my Mom-in-Law has mysteriously disappeared, along with a lot of other very faithful family members? Ehh..maybe, and then I’m going to think to myself, “oops, sure blew that one, didn’t I?” I was bothered by the authors disregard for the levels of faith, bothered by her seeming willingness to lump all believers into the “wacko” category. But again…I skipped about 150 pages, so maybe I’m incorrect in my assumptions.

I’m also getting tired of the Chicken Little “the sky is falling” and we’re all gonna die news from global warming proponents. I’m not saying global warming isn’t real, don’t yell at me. I’m merely remembering dire warnings from years past, remember? The Coming Ice Age? Zero Population Growth? Summer of the Shark? Bird Flu, when regular flu is killing 36,000 people a year. So, yeah, I’ve sort of got to the been there…heard that.. time in my life. I guess my whole problem with global warming is that a whole lot of people are making a whole lot of money off it, and its been so politicized. I instantly mistrust any science that is A. Making craploads of money for a select few, and B. Highly politicized. (okay, I’ll confess to a C. as well) C. Media driven. (not that I don’t trust either politicians of any stripe or the media, oh wait, that’s right, I don’t trust any of them. Not one teeny weeny itty bitty bit. It’s my libertarian/contrarian leanings showing themselves, sorry, can’t help it)

Enough already! I’m ranting, but like the old song goes, “It’s my blog and I can rant if I want to”, (blog/party; cry/rant; close enough)

I’m pretty sure I’m in a minority though, lots of readers have really loved this book. At Amazon, it's got a four star rating, people really like it. I'm the odd duck here. You should meander over to visit Bev at Merryweather’s blog for a more positive look at the book, but for as me, I’m on to other books!

My rating:


Anonymous said...

too bad you didn't like the book. I almost..ALMOST asked for this one. I got a little leery though because I immediately thought Rapture = christian stuff = religious stuff = christian lit yeah you get the hint. Not my sort of thing. I'll wait for this on the library shelves then.

I don't mind if there's no happy endings. In fact, bleak endings rather..surprise and amaze me :P

Bingo said...

I am fairly sure I wouldn't like this book but am glad to see you were honest in your review and that you didn't waste precious time on something you didn't like when there is so much out there to read

bermudaonion said...

Well, it sounds like this one made you think, if nothing else.

CJ said...

Kelly -

I will never understand the draw of end-of-the-world books. Why in the world would I want to read something that depresses me. Of course, if I wanted to be reflective, I could say I avoid depressing books because I deal, in RL with enough depressing reality.

Anyway, you're right on as far as global warming goes. We're talking about a fraction of a degree in increase temperature to begin with and now, there are climate experts who say we've entered a cooling off cycle. And the money being made off the scare tactics of the media is down-right obsence. A former VP candidate has made over 100 million pedaling his the world is ending mantra.

As for the religion - why do people who attack religion forget about all the good its done?

Sorry. While it is your blog and you may certainly rant, I should not so much.

Thanks for an honest review.


-.- said...

I don't mind rapture like books, but if the world is going to end I'd want a happy ending and not something that leaves you depressed.

With everything about the end of the world happening in 2012, it kind of makes you wonder why they're wasting their time being paranoid about it. And less time trying to make the best of what they have left.

Not that I believe that the world is ending then, but it if was. Then I'd be living life the best way I could and make sure I rake in a lot of good acts, before the world goes kapalowee.

The global warming issue is kind of amusing to me, only because the world always goes through a cycle. Also, I've read that the sun is getting hotter, not the world.

But that's life. Paranoia feeds paranoia, and these days it seems like it's a never ending cycle.

~ Popin

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Sorry this was not a hit for you. I actually read a little, and did not think I would enjoy it either. So see, maybe it is not just you LOL

Wrighty said...

I always a appreciate an honest (and fair - great job!) review and there's nothing wrong with not finishing a book. There are too many other ones out there waiting for us! It does sound interesting and I often like this kind of books too but I also need some hope and heroes. I agree with everything you've said. Great points!

Unknown said...

I think you wrote a great and honest review.I'm pretty sure if I read a summary of this book I wouldn't want to read it. Rapture says religious and possibly zealot to me so I shy away from those books. But on the off chance I might have thought I wanted to read it, I am so glad I read your review.
I don't like it when authors foist some heavy duty judgments about religion onto their readers (unless it's they type of book in which that should be expected. There are a lot of religious wackos in the world but there are also many, many laid-back, very nice religious people. I know several people whose faith really sustains them but they don't talk about it in everyday life.
I don't care for depressing stories about the end of the world that are bleak and despairing and offer no hope.
I understand why you stopped reading this book! And, as you said, it's your blog, rant away!

Luanne said...

Oh dear - this one's on my pile...

Anonymous said...

I'm almost done with The Rapture, loving every page. Well done!

Greg Gutierrez
Zen and the Art of Surfing