Saturday, 13 February 2010
An apocalyptic novel set in England a few years into the future, The Rapture by Liz Jensen tracks the story of Gabrielle Fox as she moves into her new life after being paralysed from the waist down in a tragic car accident. A psychologist by trade, she moves to a small town on the South Coast to try and rebuild her career.
Gabrielle is assigned to the case of Bethany Krall, a very troubled teenager who killed her own mother by stabbing her in the eye and who gets a kick out of her electro-convulsive therapy. Bethany's previous therapist left suddenly and her case notes are unaccountably missing.
Gabrielle finds that Bethany believes that she can predict various natural disasters that are happening around the world, and after a devastating hurricane and a killer earthquake happen on the dates and in the locations that Bethany prophesied, Gabrielle starts to feel uneasy and finds that she has trouble dismissing them as coincidences.
Gabrielle is also having to come to terms with her own emotional life after she meets the physicist Frazer Melville at a charity event. Her married lover had been killed in the car accident that had taken the use of Gabrielle's legs and she had also lost her unborn child. She had come to believe that she would never again have a physical and loving relationship with a man and has to battle with her own insecurities and lack of self-belief as enters into a relationship with Frazer.
With Britain caught in a 'Faith Wave' due to the ravages of global warming and food shortages and many people predicting that the end times had started, Gabrielle tries to untangle Bethany's past as a child of a preacher and get her to open up about what had happened to her mother. But Bethany's visions seem to become more powerful after each course of ECT and she starts to predict the 'big' one, where floods and lakes of fire will engulf large parts of the country.
Gabrielle and Frazer start to try and convince the world of science that the world is in danger, but as the story draws to a dramatic climax, is Bethany manipulating them more than they realise? How much does she really know about what is going to happen, and how much depends on her need for revenge on her father?
Not a long novel, but it packs in a lot of ideas on potential environmental disasters, religion, love and insanity. A good thriller, but a depressing world view, so you'll need some comfort food like sausages, mash and beans with a large glass of wine!