Welcome to the book tour for Phillip W. Simpson's YA dystopian Rapture, the first in a trilogy! The tour is brought to you by Reading Addiction Book Tours. Check out the other stops for interviews and guest posts! And don't forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom ;) There's also an excerpt of a fight scene if you want some demon action and a taste of what to expect in the book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Publisher: Pear Jam Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 300 pages
The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell.
Earth burns, hell-like in its oppressive heat. Every volcano in the world has erupted, and tsunamis and earthquakes continue to devastate the planet. Clouds continually rain ash onto the scorched landscape, sparking fires all around. Plants and animals are dying. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon - when it can be seen - is the colour of blood.
The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the Earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they're lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship of the Devil, and ushered into endless hell.
Eighteen year old Sam is unable to rise up because he is half demon. Hikari, a Japanese sword master and demon expert and his beautiful daughter, Aimi, have been all the family Sam has ever known. Now they're gone, and Sam must set out on the mission Hikari charged him with long ago: to help all the humans left behind. Armed only with his beloved Japanese swords and his wits, Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels.
There he will confront his destiny. There he must fight to save a friend ... and the souls of the living.
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The series continues in Tribulation, which you can check out and buy here.
I was interested in reading Rapture because it combines some elements I love: demons, a hero caught in an internal war with himself, and Japanese sword fighting.
As you can read in the description, the rapture prophesied in the bible has occurred and all the faithful have been taken to heaven. Left behind are those who don’t believe, be they innocents or sinners. What they’re in for is general chaos and seven years of hell on earth. Every night, demons appear and hunt the remaining humans to kill them or drag them to hell. Ash is raining from the sky, there is no more electricity, and with plants dying the animals are vanishing as well. Humans are as likely to kill each other for food as they are to group together to help one another during the nightly demon attacks.
The books is narrated in the third person and follows Sam as he leaves his small hometown in Utah for the first time ever to embark on a journey to Los Angeles to fulfill his destiny and help the innocent left behind on his way there. Sam is a half-demon and was raised by Hikari, a Japanese man of the church and sword master who knew Sam’s mother. He helps Sam cope with the downsides of his heritage and teaches him all that he knows about fighting, tactics, and Christian mythology to prepare him for the coming rapture that he knows about through visions shown to him and a few others by the angel Gabriel. The events from Sam’s childhood up to the rapture are told as flashbacks, alternating with chapters taking place in the present. That way, Sam’s past and the necessary knowledge to understand what’s going on in the fight of good vs. evil is gradually revealed to the reader.
I liked Sam. Despite being a half-demon, he’s a good guy and fights hard to keep his sometimes eruptive temper at bay. He trains relentlessly and has a great relationship to Hikari and his daughter Aimi, who he begins to develop feelings for. Sam knows that Hikari and Aimi will likely be taken during the rapture – and that he will be left behind because of his heritage. Naturally, this is something he struggles with (sometimes with quite a lot of ‘why me’), and it’s clear that he misses them a lot after the rapture. They were his whole world, because he could rarely go out in daylight and interact with other humans – the small horns on his head and his black eyes make a normal life impossible in such a small and devout community. I enjoyed watching Sam develop once he embarks on his journey, meets other people, and forms tentative friendships.
Something I admit that I struggled with is just how steeped this novel is in Christian belief. I expected some of that from the description, but I didn’t think it would be this extreme. With that I don’t mean that the book was preachy, but it’s just something that makes me uneasy personally. While Sam does think that it’s unfair that a lot of innocent people were left behind when the faithful rose to heaven simply because they didn’t believe, this whole concept also raised questions for me. Do all those who belief in any kind of god rise to heaven, or just the Christians? What about the many Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhist, or whatever else people? That question is never delved into. Also, the focus on Christian myths made the book a bit too allegorical for me, something the characters’ names, the temptations scenes, and the depiction of Vegas and L.A. contributed to.
I liked the descriptions of the various demons though, and the fight scenes were very well-written! I could picture Sam’s movements wonderfully and also enjoyed seeing him during his training in the flashbacks. And of course I love his weapons of choice – the katana and the wakizashi. His are forged of iron, the only thing that works against demons.
Another thing I had some problems with was that the mode of the writing usually kept me at a distance to the story and characters. You can do third person point of view in a more experiencing mode, close to the character, or in a mode that is closer to the narrator. The latter was the case here, which made it a little hard for me to really connect with Sam. I was told about his feelings, but I didn’t really experience them most of the time. Also, the diction was a bit too formal at times, which again contributed to the impression of distance. I think that was also one of the reasons why some secondary characters felt a bit hollow to me.
The pace of the story is great though, so I never got bored and was always interested in what would happen next. The alternating timeline of the chapters also provided variation, and it’s always made clear what time period the reader is in at what moment. There was also a plot twist near the end that I enjoyed and didn’t see coming and world building details that were imaginative and well thought-out.
Overall, you will enjoy this book if you love an action-packed read set in a dystopian world during the final fight of good against evil. If you have a problem with the religious aspect or are looking for a romance-focused book, this one isn’t for you. Despite the problems I pointed out, I liked Rapture and am interested in reading its sequel, Tribulation.
As soon as this thought entered his mind, it was interrupted by a demonic presence to his left. A cluster of Lemure surged out of what had once been the local coffee house, screaming as they advanced. Sam sprinted around a wrecked SUV to give himself some breathing room, drawing both swords.
He swung around to his left, still at full stretch. Whether by good luck or by displaying a higher than usual level of intelligence, three of the Lemure hadn’t fallen for the ploy. They met him on the other side of the SUV, running as hard as he was. Sam didn’t even pause. He struck high then low and spun around to deliver a double blow to the third Lemure. All three turned to ash in his wake.
He kept sprinting, skirting around the wrecks in the middle of Main Street, heading east. It was opposite to the direction he wanted to head in but he would double back later in order to confuse his pursuers.
Sensing that the demons were falling behind, Sam slowed to a fast jog. He could keep this pace up for hours if he needed to. Before the Rapture, he had often run into the Rockies and back before the sun had even snuck up over the horizon. Night-time was when he always trained, away from prying eyes. He always felt stronger in the dark. Hikari had told him that his night vision was much better than any other humans, something he had suspected when he realized he could see almost perfectly in all but the most absolute darkness.
It was just as well because now the only light came from the moon, which was hardly a great source of illumination. Normally, street lights, the frontages of residential homes, the odd shop open for a late night and the occasional car would provide ample light for the average resident. It was odd running through the small town like this, guided only by the malevolent red glow from above.
Disturbingly, despite his injuries, Sam felt even stronger right at that moment, almost as if the moon was energizing him. He looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of a star in the now cloudless sky. There were none. Had been none since the Rapture. The stars, once beautiful and sparkling in the clear country air, had all fallen. Where they had landed, Sam had no idea. He just knew that they weren’t in the sky anymore.
Suddenly a shadow fell across the moon, a strong wind buffeting him from above. He’d sensed the presence of the Astaroth but he was far, far too late. Too late and too slow. Cursing himself for his lack of concentration, Sam attempted to roll but felt something lift him off his feet with a powerful jolt. It was the Astaroth alright. Clearly, those wings weren’t for show, he thought wryly as the Astaroth slowly gained height. Luck had been on his side though. Instead of those mighty talons piercing his skin, they had merely jagged his backpack.
Then Sam remembered what were in his hands. What had been in his hands all the way down Main Street. His swords. He swept both up at the same time, each aiming for a different leg, and felt a savage surge of satisfaction as the iron weapons both connected and bit deeply. The Astaroth roared so loudly that, if Sam had been able to, he would’ve covered his ears.
Instead, he found himself falling. Surprisingly quickly. He thought, rather belatedly, that he hadn’t actually planned this out very carefully.
The ground rushed up to meet him.
Sooo... what do you guys think of the book, my review, or the excerpt? Is this something you think you'd enjoy? Let me know in the comments :)
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March 21 - Shelfspace Needed - Reveiw
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March 24 - Framed in Words - Guest Post/PROMO
March 25 - Forever YA - Review/Interview
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