It has been two years since Kameron Hurley shocked the science fiction community with her debut novel God’s War. Now, Hurley’s blood-soaked trilogy has come to an end with the novel, Rapture. Does Hurley end the trilogy with a flourish or a whimper? The answer cannot easily be heard under the rousing applause that Rapture deserves. Rapture is one of those rare beasts of a novel that marries together beautifully gritty characters, soul-stirring moral implications, and a complex world.
With a quaint ocean-side home, a doting lover, and a gaggle of kids to look after, Nyx thought she had finally found peace. But with all the blood that Nyx has spilt, she should have known that running away would not be that easy. The Bel Dames, a group of government assassins, have convinced her to come out of retirement and take on one more bounty. Nyx knows that she cannot do this bounty alone, so she hires a cadre of shifty mercenaries to help her. In the shadows of Nyx’s journey, revolutions are brewing and peace is on a knife’s edge.
The characters come full circle
It has been a long and brutal journey for Nyx and her cohorts. Every friend killed and every corpse burned has taken a tremendous emotional and physical toll on the cast. Rapture is when each character must answer for both their triumphs and their follies; they cannot simply sweep their actions under the rug. The internal struggles the main characters have to go through elevate this novel above mere fiction into something we can all learn from, with the message of the past coming back to haunt you ringing true. Sometimes, when you mess up, there is not redemption waiting on your doorstop or a shoulder to cry on because you forsook it years ago.
One of the most enthralling things about Rapture—and the entire Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy—is how adroitly Hurley lays bare our own societal norms and expectations. All of the current hot-button issues are on transparent display here: same-gender relationships, female sexuality, religion, and morality. Although Hurley seems be on the liberal half of the political spectrum, she is more than willing to show both sides of the argument. Of course, this may ruffle a few readers’ literary feathers because she includes both the good and the bad. This is part of what makes Rapture such an engaging novel—it forces the reader to be uncomfortable with its fearsome honesty. It forces us to reevaluate our thoughts on various issues, regardless of which section of the sociopolitical spectrum we call home.
Those sure are a lot of viewpoints
There is something to be said about being too ambitious. In this case, Rapture sports a rather large cast of point-of-view characters for a fairly slim novel. For the most part, this lengthy POV list is not bothersome when it comes to the returning cast, as they are already nicely developed from the previous novels. It becomes a hindrance instead with the new characters introduced in Rapture. Overall, the new characters are well-developed but at many times are their motivations muddled—and some characters just seem like walking plot conveniences.
Why should you read this book?
Novels like Rapture only come every once in a while, piercing through readers’ corporeal forms and straight into their souls. That being said, Rapture, and the entire Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, is not for everyone. Its brutal slant on multiple subjects may rub some readers the wrong way, its cast is not likeable in the heroic sense, nor is there much closure. But for those who want to be challenged by the novels they read, I implore you to look no further than Rapture.