The Rapture: A Novel
by Liz Jensen
Gabrielle Fox has just started her new job at the Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital. She’s an art therapist, treating damaged and unstable youth. One of her patients, Bethany Krall, is a little more extreme than most. Raised by fundamentalist Christian parents, Bethany brutally murdered her mother and now claims to have prophetic visions, accurately predicting natural disasters before they occur. Gabrielle must figure out Bethany’s rants are cries for attention or if she truly can see the future, but can she look at things objectively when she is still smarting from her own traumas and the crippling effect they’ve had on her life?
Ha ha. See how clever I was there? Crippling effect? You see, Gabrielle was paralyzed in a car accident right before our story begins, so she’s adjusting to life in a wheelchair and all the emotional baggage that goes with it. Her previous co-workers think it’s too soon for her to be working with someone like Bethany, whose previous therapist is away on ‘sick leave’ after failing to maintain her professional relationship with her patient. Her struggles to continue her pre-accident career while dealing with the discrimination and inconveniences of her condition are the heart of the narrative, and often the most emotionally engaging moments.
The Rapture is not a book by a Christian author, for those of you dreading a Left Behind clone. I guess the best term for this book is eco-thriller. It turns out that global warming does, in fact, bring about the end of the world, triggering greater and more frequent natural disasters every year. Fancy physics and pseudo-science are used to provide explanations for everything, including Bethany’s visions, but until the very last pages you don’t know if she’s a modern Joan of Arc talking to God or crazy as a loon. It’s an intriguing journey down a potential path to civilization’s end, but I’m not sure what age the book was written for. At first, I thought from the vocabulary and writing style that it was intended for the teen/young adult audience, but the sexual content and prominence of Gabrielle (the adult) instead of Bethany (the teen) makes me think it’s probably intended for adult readers.