Whew! As many of you know, I don't handle horror stories very well, so I almost turned down the chance offered by Doubleday to review this. I got my Advanced Review Galley last month, and kept putting it off. The Book went on sale this week, and if I had to write a one-line review, I'd say You must buy and read this book.
I don't believe in the Christian concept of the Rapture, and I do believe in the reality of global warming. Liz Jensen has written an incredibly well plotted story about both featuring a physo-therapist, Gabrielle Fox, and her patient Bethany Krall. Bethany, 16 yrs old, has been confined to a mental institution because she brutally murdered her mother. Her father, a preacher who believes in the Rapture, refuses to have anything to do with his daughter, saying she is possessed by the devil.
Gabrielle, who is still suffering physically and psychologically from a terrible car accident in which she was left a paraplegic and her lover was killed, takes on Bethany as a patient against the advise of her previous boss, and her own medical team who do not think she is ready to return to work.
Bethany's 'visions' of terror to come have a surrealistic habit of proving true. She predicts earthquakes, hurricanes, storms, etc, with incredible and scary accuracy.
Enter Frazer Melville, a Scottish physicist who is not only interested in Gabrielle, but in Bethany's 'talents.' As Bethany's predictions increase, and the horror of what she is suggesting sinks in, Frazer and Gabrielle must decide if they believe her, if they have any obligation to warn the world, and how to handle the increasingly violent and disruptive teenager.
Enough plot. I don't want to spoil the ending. I won't discuss whether the Rapture happens or total disaster strikes the earth. You will have to read to find out. But you must read it.
The story keeps you on the edge of your seat. The characters are quite believable and often poignant. But it is THE PROSE, THE WRITING, that will have you breathless.
I am reluctant to quote because I only have a galley, and final changes may have occurred. I hope the editors don't change one word. Liz Jensen has written some of the most incredible imagery, dialogue and story lines I've read this year (and I've read over 100 books). Her ability to paint pictures with words is incredible. There were times I was left gasping. Here is one small example describing the aftermath of a giant earthquake:
Morning glory, cyclamen, and all shades of bougainvillea will writhe their way through the remains of tower blocks and climb up the rusted steel reinforcements of hospitals to bloom in bright carpets; poppies and bindweed and rosemary and lemongrass will deck splintered wood and smashed concrete with verdure; acacia trees and chinaberries will colonize the cracks, splitting tarmac to conjure the worst kind of beauty: the kind that celebrates human collapse.Every word is that precisely written. Whether you believe any of the horror, or sympathize with the characters, you will not be able to forget this one. Thanks to Doubleday for making it available. This will definitely be on my "Best of the Year" list.
Note: edited to correct the name of the main character - it's Bethany, not Brittany.