The sequel and last book in the duology of Vivian Apple picks up immediately after the events of Vivian Apple at The End of the World, where our MC Viv, boasting a broken hand after punching the leader of a religious doomsday cult and then fleeing capture by his people, has just discovered some rather disturbing facts about her family, the remainder of whom she had just tried to seek refuge with. Phew.
But there’s no rest for the wicked, it seems – no pun intended – and Viv, along with her best friend Harpreet, have to figure out their next moves in a world gone mad.
While the first book focused on the events following the rapture, where believers of a capitalist Christian cult apparently ascended to heaven (but in reality, met less-than-pleasant fates), this second installment is centered on fighting back against the corrupt officials who lead the Church of America, and exposing their lies once and for all in order to bring down the entire cult and its believers.
This, along with the threat of an impending natural disaster/apocalypse (of manmade, not religious origin) looming in the background, certainly brings across a sense of desperation, of doom, of time running out, as Viv and her cohorts work on plans to meet their goal while trying (and not always succeeding) at avoiding death via the enforcers of the cult and the general population, which has gone trigger-happy.
I really loved the focus on female friendship in the book – while Viv and Harp occasionally quarrel and are less approving of each other’s life choices, ultimately they are there for each other, through doomsday cults, incendiary blog posts, crazy escapes and dying family members.
As with the first book, I also really enjoyed the critique of the terrifyingly exaggerated, all-reaching religion, with its dictates on dress and behavior, encouragement of consumption that supports their church, and the blasting of their message from all available media avenues.
Character development for both Viv and Harp improved in this book – the former is now more prone to take action, and the latter to warn caution. While Viv did make some questionable (read: dumbass) decisions, I let it go because she is a teenager in the midst of a world going to pieces, and if that’s not an excuse for some dodgy judgement, then what is?
All in all, a satisfying conclusion to the series, with a rather open-ended final page that nevertheless leaves us readers with a sense of hope.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.