Published: 21 October 2011 by Pear Jam Books
Pages: 300 (paperback)
Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell. Earth burns, hell-like in its oppressive heat. Every volcano in the world has erupted, and tsunamis and earthquakes continue to devastate the planet. Clouds continually rain ash onto the scorched landscape, sparking fires all around. Plants and animals are dying. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon - when it can be seen - is the colour of blood. The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the Earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they're lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship of the Devil, and ushered into endless hell. Eighteen year old, Sam (short for Samael) was raised in the town of Jacob's Ladder, Utah. It is appropriately enough near to a place of natural scenic beauty called Devil's garden. He finds himself alone, unable to rise up with his family because he is half demon. His mother, a devout Christian, was seduced by Satan and conceived his child. She smuggled the boy to an old friend Hikari, a Japanese sword master and demon expert. Since then, Hikari and his daughter, Aimi, have been all the family Sam has known. Now they re gone, and Sam must set out on the mission Hikari charged him with long ago: to help all the humans left behind. Armed only with his beloved Japanese swords and his wits, Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels. There he will confront his destiny. There he must fight to save a friend ... and the souls of the living.
When I read the synopsis of this book, I wasn’t really sure that it was for me. Rapture is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland but it is also YA and appears to be more than slightly religious in its overtones – devils, angels, heaven and hell, Rapture and Tribulation…..
As soon as I was holding this book in my hot little hands, I started to realize that maybe I was a little quick to judge a book by its synopsis. With wonderful cover-art and presentation that would make the most seasoned reader pick it up from a bookshelf and have at least a quick flick-through, I felt my inner cynic melting a little.
Rapture throws you right into the post-apocalyptic wasteland, complete with demons and an instantly likable character in Sam. The demons are everything your worst nightmares are made of and more, the imagery of the wastelands are moving, and Sam is a young man with strong loyalties to his family and the responsibility to save every survivor he meets.
The history of Sam is told through a series of flashbacks to his childhood and teenage years, gradually revealing how he came to be the man he is today, interspersed with the current day, which works extremely well to build a sense of history whilst still giving you the action and suspense to keep you immersed in the story.
Rapture is a beautifully told story in an ugly setting. The writing is descriptive but straight-forward, the settings are familiar yet new and the characters are engaging, evil or otherwise. I am so happy that I gave this book a chance – Mr. Simpson is an incredibly talented writer and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment of this series, which has serious potential to be the next big thing in YA reading.
Some final comments: Those of you who know me know there are some book themes that I really do struggle with – YA and religion being two of them. So a few quick words on both those points before I finish:
YA – this is extremely well written YA – the character of Sam is the teenage girls dream, but the adult audience will also be captivated by his maturity and sense of responsibility. I didn’t roll my eyes ONCE!
Religion – this is a book about demons and angels, heaven and hell but it’s more a way of building a storyline and theme, rather than trying to preach. Even if you are unfamiliar with the religion and mythology, it is explained in a very straight-forward manner throughout the book.