The Rapture

The Rapture

by Liz Jensen

Overview:It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase.

But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief. Determined to make a fresh start, and shake off memories of her wrecked past, she leaves London for a temporary posting as an art therapist at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, home to one hundred of the most dangerous children in the country. Among them: the teenage killer Bethany Krall.

Despite two years of therapy, Bethany is in no way rehabilitated and remains militantly nonchalant about the bloody, brutal death she inflicted on her mother. Raised in evangelistic hellfire, the teenager is violent, caustic, unruly, and cruelly intuitive. She is also insistent that her electroshock treatments enable her to foresee natural disasters—a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion.

But as Gabrielle delves further into Bethany’s psyche, she begins to note alarming parallels between her patient’s paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval—coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. When a brilliant physicist enters the equation, the disruptive tension mounts—and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator or a harbinger of global disaster on a scale never seen before? Where does science end and faith begin? And what can love mean in “interesting times”?

With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the increasingly unnerving relationship between the traumatized therapist and her fascinating, deeply calculating patient. As Bethany’s warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices in a world in which belief has become as precious - and as murderous—as life itself.

Susanna O'Neill (05/21/17): Liz Jensen has created a very real and gritty character in Gabrielle Fox. Having had her world crash down around her, after a car accident in which she loses all feeling below the waist, the heroine is determined to keep her job as a psychologist, as it's the only thing she has left in her life. The author writes with a real insight into the feelings and torments that life in a wheelchair inflicts upon Gabrielle. With her self-worth at an all-time low it doesn't help that she is assigned to a violent, delusional, unruly teenage girl, who has been institutionalised after killing her mother. The relationship between the two is never sentimentalised, nor is her paralysis and this keeps the reader even more involved, as it is easy to empathise with the very human emotions expressed.

The girl claims to have special powers, is able to foresee natural disasters and the descriptions of the carnage left behind after these events occur is raw, heart wrenching and powerful. The ecological themes and storylines that run through the book are extremely relevant and important in today's world but rather than preach at us about what we should be doing or what we should stop doing, Jensen allows our own imagination and conscience to bring that to the fore.

Gabrielle is inspiring in her honest thoughts as well as being a sharp but intelligent heroine, all nicely woven into both the dark events in the book and the events surrounding the man she finds herself falling in love with. Their affair is intense, vivid and true to life, ensnaring the emotion of the reader. The novel itself is exciting, interesting, intelligent, very well researched and keeps the reader guessing right until the end. An imaginative yet very real story, told with gusto and humanity and no doubt a lot of hard work.
Rating: *****

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