“But I do have the mark of the beast, look…”
She plants a forefinger on each temple.
“Invisible in my case. That’s where the electrode’s go.”
Welcome to planet Earth in its final death-throes. They say ‘hell hath no fury’, and Mother nature has never been so furious. In ‘The Rapture’ Jensen envisions a world of hell-fire in the not too-distant future; a world where supertornadoes rip through several countries overnight, and earthquakes and volcanoes trigger each other off like firecrackers.
This is a world committing suicide. And if that wasn’t enough, interest in organised religion has taken a delirious upturn. It is the decade of the ‘Faith-wave’ and belief in ‘The Rapture’ (biblical Armageddon) is gathering momentum. In this chaos we are introduced to Gabrielle Fox, an art therapist who is about to start work at Oxsmith Psychiatric Institute (a maximum security facility for criminally insane and dangerous youths).
Little does she know that she has been assigned the infamous Bethany Krall, one of the most violent inmates in the compound, and in Britain for that matter. Fox knows nothing of Krall, except that she killed her mother with a screwdriver when she was 14. Her official reports reveal a young girl damaged beyond repair. But this is not what disturbs Fox. The silence of her work colleagues regarding the dismissal of Krall’s former therapist is what begins to get to her. But it’s not long before Fox begins to experience the ‘Bethany’ treatment, and everything she has ever learned about the human mind becomes suspect. There is something very wrong with Bethany, and Fox begins to wonder whether this troubled, dark child, is the anti-christ or a misunderstood messenger from god.
‘The Rapture’ transcends genres and is a good example of post-modern intertextuality. Jensen seems to link several varying Armageddon theories that range from religious fanaticism and eco-calamities like Stephen King’s Carrie and William Peter Blatty The Exorcist to psychological thrillers like Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs. Jensen does borrow and channel certain narrative aspects of these books. For instance I found Bethany Krall to be a younger, uncouth version of Hannibal Lecter, but with reams of deadly feminine intuition. Violence-wise she is not a cannibal, but I got a feeling that if left to it, she would at least give it a try. Fox on the other hand is a paraplegic copy of Clarice, reminiscent of the same probing intelligence.
Overall, I am highly impressed by the depth of research that must have gone into this novel, especially with the wide issues that it covers. The environmental dangers outlined are realistic threats that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ultimately, Jensen has woven a wonderful tapestry of a dystopian future.
I give this 3/5 stars.
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