Author: Katie Coyle
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Reblog Book Club
Genre(s): YA, Dystopia, Coming of age
Spoilers: Hold on to your pants
The Reblog Book Club chose a new book, and it was one that, well, it didn’t really trip my trigger. If you’re into end of the world, teens finding their way, pretty instant romance, and coming of age stories, this one might be for you. Also, if you like girls who look badass with sledgehammers, then this is definitely for you. Now, if you don’t want to know much about the book, go on and skip to the very bottom and just read the Final Thoughts section. Otherwise, you’re going to get a ton of spoilers in a short amount of time. Better yet, if this book sounds like something you’d like, just go out and read it. Books are always better without other people tainting your views on them right? Without further delay, here’s my synopsis/review of Vivian Apple at the End of the World.
We meet Vivian, a gal that sounds a lot like a typical, everyday, non-trouble-causing teen. She’s cool, aloof, and just floating through her teen years. A movement has swept America where now everyone and their brother is converting to a radical form of Christianity (?) lead by a guy called Frick. Naturally, Vivian is unimpressed by it, but her parents get caught up in it. Life goes on, a rapture is called for, but no one believes it till it happens. She’s started hanging out with another gal who is a not-so-great influence. Typical teenage reaction to what’s going on. One day she comes home, *surprise* parents have been taken. Vivian mourns for a short while before compartmentalizing her feelings and basically moving on, getting back up with her friends, and waiting out the end of the world. She goes to school the next day, and is basically a stone wall as far as deep emotions go.
Not long after, her estranged grandparents show up to take her to New York so she can live with them. Instead of packing up everything of hers, she grabs a bag and gets the heck out of dodge, just to lay around for a few months. The end of the world is coming, and she just hangs out in New York. Not doing anything but just existing. With the end of the world so close, you just don’t feel any urgency. It’s like telling a little kid that they are going to get to go to the ice cream shop and eat as much as they’d like, but the kid being lethargic and not interested. Where’s the excitement and fun in that?
One day, Vivian decides that she’s going to leave the apartment. She sneaks out, not that she really needs to sneak out, as her grandparents are the type of people that don’t seem as strict as she makes them out to be. Anyway, while she is out and about in New York she walks about and ends up at Times Square where there is a demonstration going on lead by the New Orphans. Vivian is enamored with their powerful talk and viva la teen generation spirit, and thus reanimated decides she’s going to take the car, leave New York, and get back to her BFF Harp, who she left back home in Pittsburgh.
After racing back home, Vivian tracks down Harp. She finds Harp in an apartment, stinking of booze, old food, and filth. Harp tells Vivian that her brother is dead, and his boyfriend and little sister have split. She also says that she could have gone with them, but Harp chose not to out of anger. There is no real empathy felt with those characters, and they both seem to move on quite quickly from that trauma. Anyway, Vivian tells Harp of a mysterious phone call that came one night and was from a 415 area code. Harp somehow knows this is a California code, and more specifically around the San Francisco area. She has also heard of the New Orphans via her late brother and from a guy that could provide them with more information.
They find mystery boy, who just happens to be the guy that Vivian met at a party not too long ago and thought was oh so dreamy. He tells them some things, and all three of them decide to road trip to San Fran to find out the reason behind the call. They get going on $2,017.51, a map, and hope. Part way through the trip they meet an old classmate of Vivian and Harp’s and for no real reason decide to take her on with them. From there they see rising gas prices, hotels, and meet up with another New Orphans group. This group is everything you wouldn’t expect them to be. Passive, quiet, and quaint. The main figurehead of the New Orphans is there and tells them they won’t find anything out there and to just live with them. They stay for a bit before getting the traveling itch and head out again. This time they are minus the classmate.
Somehow their money has lasted this long, and they are able to get hotel rooms pretty often, eat, and be able to fill their gas tank up with prices around $13 a gallon. Mind you, they are travelling from Pittsburgh, PA to San Francisco, CA. Plus they stopped up at the Mount Rushmore monument. That’s a total of 2,766 miles, give or take. The average sedan gas tank holds 18.5 gallons, and can go about 300-400 miles on a single tank, but let’s just half that to 350. So 18 (let’s assume they didn’t run it fully out of gas) times $13 gives you $234 per tank. 2766 divided by 350 means they would have to have filled up at least eight times. That gives you $1872 in just gas alone. They stayed in a hotel at least four times, at about $100 per night which is $400. That gets us to $2272. Plus food, which is mostly junk so we’ll cap that at $200. They spent $2472. That’s 344.49 more than what they started with. Also not counting the fact that when they ran out of a hotel room, they lost about six hundred of it, and had two hundred to finish the trip to San Francisco. I’m all for added realism in books, and enjoy having everyday worries tossed in like money, but if you are going to toss those figures in, at least make it real and not magical money that just keeps flowing. I digress…
So they make it to San Francisco! After meeting up with a favorite teacher of Vivian’s, recharging, and getting the emotional boost they needed to carry on, the gang heads out to find a mysterious compound where the church supposedly is. Naturally they find it, and now the only thing to do is break and and snoop around. They do, find out they aren’t alone, and learn a lot more about the church than they were meant to. Basically the church has been spearheaded by two guys with serious mental disorders who believe angels are talking to them via a screen in the wall. Anyone with common sense can see that this is a thinly veiled story for a giant corporation (or government) take over. Vivian and Harp get out of there, while the guy hangs about to deal with whatever is happening. Oh, and naturally one of them is his dad. But I’m guessing you saw that way back in the start.
Harp drives Vivian to Vivian’s half sister’s house. Naturally this sister appeared about mid way through the story as Vivian found out from estranged relatives that her parents weren’t who they seemed to be. Unsurprisingly, Vivian not only finds her sister, but her mother as well. Her mother strings a tale of woe, but that doesn’t shake the unmovable, unfeeling Vivian Apple. Oh no. Instead of settling down with her family, Vivian decides to get back up with Harp and go out and take down the church, find her guy, and save the world from ending. That’s where we end, and another book picks up. It does this in the typical fashion of books with sequels of not really giving an ending, thus forcing you to go out and buy the next book so you can feel some sense of closure.
I know, this was a REALLY LONG synopsis/review. This book just bugged me from the start. It took approximately four hours to read, and that’s not because it was so interesting I couldn’t put it down. It was just because for a long time in the book, nothing happened. Vivian quite literally just laid around for months before doing anything. Just hung about, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide, moping a bit, and just being. The world is ending! Everything as she knew it has changed! It is a time for action, panic, mayhem! But this book never has any urgency to it. Even the scenes that were to feel more urgent were relaxed. Never once did I really feel like the world was ending in Vivian’s world. There were hints, clues, even flat out sentences, but no need to get things accomplished. Along with that, they just randomly decide to take a basic stranger along for the ride with them. I get that they were helping her out and all, but to just take her for no real reason? That’s a bit strange. Beyond that, the magical money also bothered me. As a person who has driven across the United States, there isn’t any way they would have made it unless they had somehow found a way to supplement what money they had, especially if prices skyrocketed like the book implied.
Overall the writing was easy. It’s an easy to read book, gives you a bit to ponder, and that’s about it. It’s frustrating to have a book with no ending, but as with most YA books these days, pretty much expected. I wouldn’t say I was terribly disappointed in it, but it certainly did not live up to the hype. Sure the main characters are fine, they aren’t fleshed out like I enjoy them to be, but fine nonetheless. Most of the secondary characters are flat, one dimensional, and in the case of adults, harsh. I’m not sure if that’s something Coyle meant to do, or if it was just a byproduct of trying to make the teens take center stage. There were a couple major plot points that stood out, and made the reader take note. It’s a decent rainy day, or between tomes read.
I went into this book with high hopes. As a Reblog Book Club read, I expected it to be as good, if not better than the ones that have come before it. The hype was big on this book, with all the bloggers singing praises. However, it fell quite flat for me. It’s a decent book, and I feel that without all of the hype, I may have enjoyed it more and been able to overlook the flaws. There is a sequel to this book, and hopefully it is a bit better and tie up the loose ends.
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