by Liz Jensen
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Amazon Editorial Review
That summer, the summer all the rules began to change, June seemed to last for a thousand years. The temperature was merciless: ninety-eight, ninety-nine, then a hundred in the shade. It was heat to die in, to go nuts or to spawn in. Old folks collapsed,
dogs were cooked alive in cars, lovers couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The sky pressed down like a furnace lid, shrinking the subsoil, cracking concrete, killing shrubs from the roots up. In the parched suburbs, ice cream trucks plinked their baby
tunes into streets that sweated tar. Down at the harbor, the sea reflected the sun in tiny, barbaric mirrors. Asphyxiated, you longed for rain. It didn’t come.
–from The Rapture by Liz Jensen
It’s a blazing hot summer in the not-too-distant future. Thirty-five-year-old psychologist Gabrielle Fox is painfully rebuilding her life after a terrible accident that has left her a paraplegic, and her lover dead. The effects of incapacitating memories and guilt have led to Gabrielle’s dismissal from her London job. Craving anonymity and a fresh start, she moves to the coastal town of Hadport and accepts the first post she is offered, as an art therapist at a lackluster institution for dangerously psychopathic teens.
Gabrielle’s predecessor is on emergency leave thanks to an unhealthy obsession with Bethany Krall, now Gabrielle’s patient. A punky and precocious wild child with matted hair and kohl-rimmed eyes, Bethany’s claim to fame is that she murdered her own mother with a screwdriver. Aside from a gift for rip-roaring verbal obscenities and a knack for intuiting the inner torments of strangers, Bethany has the uncanny ability to gleefully forecast the environmental catastrophes now befalling the earth at a terrifying rate. Though skeptical at first, Gabrielle finds herself preoccupied with Bethany, her alarm and fascination swelling with every accurate prediction.
Seeking a rational explanation, Gabrielle connects with the big-hearted Scottish geophysicist Frazer Melville, an expert on global weather patterns. Though Frazer is not able to give Gabrielle the easy answer she hopes for, she finds comfort in his presence, and perhaps even attraction. The two begin a tentative romance as Gabrielle realizes that the door to her sexual life may not be closed after all.
Meanwhile, the enormous human cost of each global cataclysm is tallied in advance by a jubilant Bethany, who likes to toss in a few snippets of scripture memorized at the knee of her father, the charismatic fundamentalist preacher Leonard Krall. Gabrielle suspects Krall of having more to do with his wife and child’s ruin than he admits to, but before she can fully investigate, she and Frazer must put their reputations on the line and find a way to warn humanity of the looming apocalypse.
Raved about in The Times as “an unputdownable eco-thriller” and already optioned for film by Warner Brothers, Liz Jensen’s The Rapture once again proves Jensen to be a master of page-turning suspense. Readers will be entertained by the pyrotechnics of this hugely intelligent and wholly original voice, while unnerved by the high-voltage ecological horror story that feels all too plausible in our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
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