Eco-catastrophe, Apocalypse, a matricidal teen prophet and psycho-babble galore: a rapturous read

It’s rare for me these days to be gripped so completely by a book that I can’t put it down.  I’ve just finished Liz Jensen’s The Rapture.

It is simply, chillingly brilliant.

Set in the near future, Jensen draws you right inside the head of her main protagonist, Gabrielle Fox, carefully weaving the breathy pace of a thriller with the considered reflections of a psychological drama. She baffled this layman convincingly with her climate science and caused me to reflect on my faith in this age of disaster chaos and economic uncertainty. More importantly, she eschews the typically shallow exploration of character that you find in most thrillers and instead delves deep into the psyche of each of her main characters.

To exquisite effect she toys with your recollection of recent events, mixing up recent landmark events, imprinted by a thousand television reports, with fictional facsimiles. It is a confident trick for a first novel and one that has you wondering if you’ve managed to miss a significant news story at some point that really should have fixed itself in the memory. To sustain the intense descriptions of oppressive weather, constrained phsyical circumstance and the unhinged lunacy of Fox’s teen patient until the last pages is a real achievement.

If you are ready for some brutal characterisation, a different sort of heroine, some occasionally lurid story-telling and are confident enough in your faith – if you have any – to read a convincing and ferocious challenge to its presumptions, then I commend this as a very exciting read.

If you don’t mind a spoiler or two, there are some worthwhile reviews in The Guardian (Irvine Welsh), The Telegraph (Helen Brown) and The Independent (Marianne Brace).

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