When Gabrielle Fox, a 36-year-old therapist, takes a new position at the Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, she encounters Bethany Krall, a psychotic teen who murdered her own mother and now claims to foresee natural disasters. The relationship that develops between therapist and patient—in the midst of what appears to be the coming of the end of the modern world—is complex, intriguing and fascinating.
Gabrielle, a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair since a horrific accident involving her married lover (who died as a result of the car crash), has her own demons to exorcise. When she takes on the psychological care of the young woman who appears to be a weather psychic, the interactions between the two form the basis for more than just an eco-thriller. The Rapture is a psychological profile of a deeply disturbed and mournful woman, fighting to find a reason to go on living. Her encounter with a teen who has tried to take her own life helps Gabrielle focus her own survival instincts and move past her personal disappointments and losses.
When Gabrielle partners with physicist Frazer Melville to interpret Bethany’s electroconvulsive therapy-induced visions, she is surprised to find herself romantically involved with Melville. While Gabrielle discovers through their relationship that she is still a complete woman, they discover together that Bethany is correct in her predictions, and they must find a way to warn the world of an impending natural disaster—one larger than anything in the history of mankind.
This is Liz Jensen’s seventh novel. In past work she has tackled such subjects as embryology (Egg Dancing, 1995), using primates as substitute babies (Ark Baby, 1999), and—in what is widely considered her breakout novel (her fifth)—scientists confounded by the miraculous (The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, 2006). Jensen uses extraordinary premises to introduce readers to complex and interesting characters, and she uses the medium of fiction to illuminate fascinating moral dilemmas.
That the major twist at the end of The Rapture has more to do with Gabrielle and Frazer personally than with the doom of the modern world is fitting, since throughout the novel Jensen somehow manages to draw her readers into the idea that love and romance can exist in the midst of total devastation and destruction.
The Rapture is a must-read for environmentalists, spiritualists, romantics, eco-scientists and everyone in between.
Emily Booth Masters reviews from Nashville.