I think that I will probably write two reviews of this book, because I am of two distinct minds about it.
This is the positive review. The negative review will come later, and will probably be longer.
Vivian Apple At the End of the World is a book about the end times. It is a rather biting satire about the rapture, and what comes after a small number (less than 5,000) of Americans disappear on the night that the end times begins. Now, you might ask, how can an end time merely begin - isn't the end times, by definition, the end.
Not when it is all a fraud. And we are pretty darned sure it is a fraud.
But, let's talk about what I liked. I liked Vivian Apple a whole lot. She's a classic rule-follower, a good girl, the one who gets good grades and really doesn't DO rebellion. I raised a Vivian Apple, and she is delightful.
But I also liked her BFF, Harp. Harp is also a good girl, she just cloaks it in sarcasm and vodka. She is smart and funny and loyal, she takes care of those she loves, she is open-hearted. Sure, she sleeps around (a little) and drinks (a lot), but that doesn't make her not a good girl. Good girl is an inside thing, not what you show off when other people are looking.
There is good satire in here - starting with the conflation of religion and capitalism. This is something that we mostly see in America, and often see in the south. I am not a person of faith, and this is something that I have never understood. I've posted questions about it on Patheos, and on my favorite former fundamentalist blogger's blog (Samantha Fields, btw, and if you haven't read her, well, you should read her) and no one has ever answered it to even my most limited satisfaction. Capitalism is an economic theory, but amongst the conservatives who love American Jesus, it is almost a religion.
Nothing I've ever read in the Bible indicates to me that Jesus would have preferred capitalism over all other possible economic theories.
But, I digress. Back to the point. This book takes the uniquely American phenomenon of the religious huckster (hello there, televangelist who wants a new jet plane and Mr. Prosperity Gospel) to its most absurd and compelling end. Successfully, in my opinion, pointing out the unholy alliance between theology and corporatism in modern day American culture.
On a road trip. With a cute boy.