The first book of Katie Coyle’s Vivian Apple series Vivian Versus the Apocalypse (or Vivian Apple At The End of the World depending on what edition you have) is a promising start to a short series about The Church of America conspiring against America in the wake of the Rapture as prophesied by Beaton Frick, some mad spokesperson of God who convinces America to split into two groups: Believers and Non-Believers. Vivian Apple, unlike her parents and the majority of adults, is a Non-Believer. When thousands of Believers are supposedly Raptured, along with her parents, Vivian sets off around America with her best friend Harp and Peter, a guy who swears they can trust him, in search of the truth.
I enjoyed the first Vivian Apple book well enough. It probably helped that I’m a Non-Believer like Vivian and her friends, though don’t get me wrong. Katie Coyle makes sure to point out that the books aren’t hitting at religious folks willy-nilly; the book is clear on the fact that not everything is black and white and not all Believers swept up in the Church of America’s conspiracy are bad people. Obviously.
However, the majority of the book does see Non-Believers versing Believers, as that’s just what happens in such Apocalypses, when food and safety is scarce and where Believers kill Non-Believers for such atrocious sins as homosexuality. The demise of American society was dealt with really well in the book and I also enjoyed the bringing together of the New Orphans, a group of parentless Non-Believers.
Of course, I sided with Vivian and her friends and Coyle does a great job making them likeable and making me care what happens to them. There were times Vivian annoyed me and times Harp annoyed me, but both girls are great characters. Peter was also a good character and the romance element of the first book was a good lead up to what happens in the second.
I enjoyed the second book Vivian Versus America probably more than the first, even if I did find it a little predictable and anti-climatic. Still, there were lots of great moments and great developments between the characters and for the characters themselves. I grew to like Harp a lot more in the second book, she was kick-ass. There were also a couple of characters who weren’t really present in the first novel that were great new additions.
In all, I think Vivian Apple was an interesting look at religion and American society in an apocalyptic landscape. There’s lots of good stuff about family, love, friendship, the truth, loyalty. Violence, warfare, moral justice. While a bit gimmicky and a bit predictable, Vivian Apple was an exciting and entertaining read and I’d definitely recommend it for something both easy and suspenseful. This is a series that keeps you on your toes, but one that makes for relaxing afternoons of reading.