Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
For years there’s been a summer program called ‘The SYNC season‘ by Audiofile, where for the entire summer you can download two audiobooks each week (two weeks?). Last year I didn’t participate in this because I just forgot it, but this year I actually wrote it down as a reminder for myself, because I’d like to listen to more audiobooks.
One of the first books was Vivian Apple at the End of the World a book I’d been interested in for a while now, but never really picked it up. So when I saw it was one of the books available, I immediately downloaded it and listened to it while working. Vivian Apple tells the story of Vivian, who has just found out her (strongly religious) parents have been ‘Raptured’. With her best friend Harp (whose parents have disappeared too), and a guy named Peter, they travel across the country to find the truth behind the Church of America.
I really enjoyed this book so much I finished it in a day. What helped with this mostly was that I had a lot of mail to deliver (I took over from a colleague as well) and that the book was rather short for a YA novel (most of them are over 300 pages nowadays, but this one was a little over 250). It was a book that was rather high on religion, something I personally just don’t care about at all, but I think that it kind of worked in this book – after all it’s what the story is about. I wanted to find out the truth as much as Vivian, Harp and Peter did. View Spoiler »Although I did think early on it was nothing but a cult and that the people that had disappeared had just left on their own accords instead of being ‘beamed up through the ceiling’ like Viv’s parents (they made those holes themselves we found out later, and I knew that the moment Viv found that sledgehammer) « Hide Spoiler
Characterwise, this book was very strong. There were lots of good characters, and some annoying ones as well. As a bigass atheist I was bored/annoyed by all those Believers rather quickly, so I guess that would have made me give the book a lower rating, if the other characters hadn’t made up for that. Vivian, Harp, Peter, Wumbaugh were just such great characters that I ended up loving the book more. I loved their friendship and their determination to find out the truth. I was not annoyed by Vivian’s disbelief and prejudice against the Believers at all, because honestly that’s what I am like often enough as well. I understand that people believe in other things than I believe in, and I respect that, but if they are so extreme about it (like the Church of America people were in this book) I get annoyed rather quickly.
The narration was done pretty well, I thought Julia Whelan really did her best. She did different kind of voices for other characters as well, which made the story get a lot more dimension. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the way she did all the ‘yelling’ parts. There was a part where Vivian ended up at a demonstration (of New Orphans) and I don’t know why but I was just rather annoyed at the way the narrator read out those yelled parts, but that may just have been me.
In the end, I really enjoyed Vivian Apple at the End of the World even with its strong religious parts. I will certainly be picking up the second book in this series, because I want to know more about this story about these characters about everything! If you love end-of-the-world stories and you don’t mind a strong religious storyline (with an atheist main character though, I must add that) then you should pick up this book! I believe it’s available for free through the SYNC program until 11 May, so grab it while you can!