Coyle’s first foray a spellbinding read
VIVIAN VERSUS THE APOCALYPSE By Katie Coyle Hot Key Books softcover, $ 16.95.
FROM its opening four paragraphs until its last hopeless, hopeful sentence, this incredible story will shock, prod, batter and provoke readers in ways they couldn’t possibly imagine a book intended for young adults might ever be able to do.
What makes it all the more remarkable is this is Katie Coyle’s first novel. And what a cracker it is, though it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste.
I wish I could print those first four paragraphs here to give you some idea of the confronting, brave, thoughtprovoking nature of Coyle’s apocalyptic road- trip yarn, but as that’s not possible, the next best alternative is a weak attempt at a synopsis.
A millionaire by the name of Beaton Frick claims to have been visited by angels who tell him to build a church and tell the people of America God loves them most of all, and if they follow him, they’ll get to heaven when the time comes.
But the bad people of America do not listen to Frick and go on living their lives of pleasure, which angers God and causes him to turn away from them, causing so many dreadful things to happen in the world that tear at the very fabric of society. It is only then that the people of America start to listen and believe.
But 17- year- old Viv Apple and her best friend Harp simply cannot buy into the “rapture” that is predicted, when true believers will ascend to heaven, and nor do they believe the end of the world is nigh, but their parents do, as do many others.
Yet when Viv arrives home after a fizzer of a rapture party, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling. Thousands of others have disappeared too, yet thousands more have been left behind, confused, angry and feeling abandoned.
But a paragraph from the Book of Frick begins to circulate widely. It states there will be a second boat to heaven, but the way will be blocked by those who don’t believe.
And so the world begins to descend into chaos. Believers who are desperate to be on the second boat will stop at nothing to ensure their path to heaven is clear, even if it means getting rid of nonbelievers they perceive to be a threat to their eternal reward.
Viv and Harp, however, choose not to take this whole thing lying down and decide to find out what’s really going on.
They embark on a road trip across the country with Peter, a boy who may know the true whereabouts of the church headquarters, and Edie, a heavily pregnant young believer who was among those left behind.
The publicity blurb recommends this book for ages 12 and up, but perhaps 15 and up is a more reasonable benchmark,.
A wonderful, compelling read for those who love to be pushed to ask questions and to think.
MY FIRST ANIMALIA Written/ illustrated by Graeme Base hardcover, $ 19.99.
ONE of this country’s premier author/ illustrators, Graeme Base, first unleashed Animalia on the world in 1986.
It immediately captured the imagination of children and adults alike and became a classic with global sales of more than three million.
It has since been turned into an animated television series and an iPad app and still has a life of its own.
Now, however, Base has created an introductory version for younger children.
His beautiful, intricate illustrations take young readers through their alphabet with lots of flaps to lift and fun to be had with sounds and images.
It is gratifying to think that the very first children to enjoy Base’s original Animalia are now able to share and enjoy this version with their own children, a whole new generation that will learn to love Base’s imagination, humour and artistry every bit as much as their mums and dads did and still do.