The Rapture - Liz Jensen "And there shall come a rushing as of a mighty wind..."

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program

Another Vine entry that sounded interesting, particularly to someone who enjoyed most of the Left Behind books.
Gabrielle Fox is a psychological counselor has lost the use of her legs. But her recent paralysis is the least of her concern. Bethany, her recent patient, has killed her mother...and received an uncanny ability to predict the future.

I Liked:
Jensen writes in the first person present, a rare tense and difficult to master. But I think for Jensen's story, it is perfect. There is a sense of intimacy, a sense of immediacy, a wandering with the mind of the protagonist, Gabrielle Fox.
This naturally leads to the character of Gabrielle. Obviously, the first person gives us a better idea of her, but I feel that Jensen really spends time divulging who Gabrielle is, to understand her, to feel her distress at being paralyzed, her longing to help Bethany, and her despair at the condition of the world. Gabrielle is a real person, with fears, with faults.
In conjunction with Gabrielle, is the character of Frazer Melville, her lover (and apparently boyfriend, though the author doesn't make that incredibly clear). I enjoyed how he wasn't the "tall, dark, and handsome" stereotype, but almost more of a John-Rhys Davies Prince Charming. Furthermore, the chemistry between Gabrielle and Frazer is perfect. I never once felt that the author forced the two characters together.
The story is very interesting and intense. I have a few issues with the concept and the portrayal of Christians (see below), but on the whole, I can believe the scenario. It is set in the near future, near enough to be able to reference TV shows like Simpsons and Friends yet far enough away that the drastic climate change makes more sense. Some research has shown me it is possible (however unlikely) for a methane catastrophe to occur. And the end scene...WOW! Be prepared to read the last few chapters with no breaks!

I Didn't Like:
While it had many good parts, I found the below four to be the most disturbing/irritating:
1.About a third or so way through the book, the story threatens to die when Gabrielle suspects Frazer Melville (and why must he be nearly always referred to by BOTH first and last name?) of cheating on her (she, like a woman scorned, ignores him and/or treats him and his supposed lover rudely). Firstly, Gabrielle and Frazer have only known each other for a few months (from July to October). Don't get me wrong, I adore their relationship, but I felt that either Gabrielle became too possessive of Frazer too quickly or that Jensen didn't make it clear enough that the two were dating. Secondly, this is the stupidest, stupidest, stupidest plot contrivance ever! It is so obvious to the reader that Frazer isn't cheating, you want to hit Gabrielle over the head and yell, "Look at the signs, you stupid therapist!" Thirdly, the amount of time she spends wangsting over "losing" him was nearly enough to choke and kill the story. Fortunately, this thread was wrapped up fairly quickly, before the most exciting part of the story.
2.This is very probably a credit to the author, but I absolutely despised Bethany. I have not met a more despiccable or unlikeable character in a long time (at least one written that way). She was rude, mean, profane, crude, and disrespectful. And yet, in some way, it seems she ought to be pitied, something I just can't break down and do particularly after spewing profanities at her father. So, again, it probably just shows how well Jensen wrote her, but I couldn't stand her.
3.If anything appears, is referenced, or is remembered by one of the characters, 9 chances out of 10 it will have some sexual connotation. When Bethany attacks a boy, she HAS to go for his you-know-what. When Gabrielle picks up her milk steamer, she HAS to note similarities to a sex toy. When a patient has Tourette's, the child WILL spout endless profanity (which is actually very rare for that disease). When Gabrielle enters a room filled with teenaged patients, rest assured one will be trying to *AHEM*. When Bethany tries to pin down the location of the mining crane, it comes as no surprise to the audience that the clue is in the form of a woman's genitalia. When teenagers (yes, teenagers!) curse, rest assured the c-word and the f-word will be bantered frequently. None of the above are necessary for the story. They just feel weird and forced in for a selling point.
4.My last complaint is in the form of the portrayal of Christianity. In the beginning, I respected Jensen's treatment of it. But at the end, when it was revealed that the preacher believed his daughter to be demon-possessed and tried to shake it physically out of her (after locking her up without food or water for three days), I, a Christan myself, became offended. Also, it seemed that, to Jensen, if a person is a Christian, they automatically believe in the Rapture. To the first argument, such an action is a very extremist Christian action. That sort of thinking is not mainstream Christianity (although there are some who do such things, as the parents who refused to give their child insulin and decided instead to pray, leading to their child's death), and most Christians wouldn't be yelling "Devil girl!" at Bethany just because one preacher said she was inhabited by the devil. To the second, the Rapture is a HUGE point of contention amongst the Christian community. I know churches that either won't allow their libraries to have copies of the Left Behind series or that provide them with HUGE warning labels.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
I don't know if this is a British thing, but pretty much everyone wings around the f-word. Also, the c-word appears a few times coming from teenagers of all places. Others include d***, a***, and h***.
Not a page goes by that some sexual innuendo or sexual interpretation of an object, action, etc. isn't made. Gabrielle and Frazer sleep with each other. Gabrielle imagines Frazer sleeping with Kristin. A young man gets ready to *ahem*at the clinic. And crane operators are photographed in sexual relations (which leads me to wonder how the photographer happens to get so many of these types of photos).
Many thousands die in natural disasters. Bethany murdered her mother rather brutally and this is recounted numerous times. Bethany bites her tongue, and the aftermath is related. Not exactly violent, but Movak carries around his wife's ashes and does something with them that I find rather disgusting.

There are a lot of great points about this book: the characters, the romance between Gabrielle and Frazer, and the story itself. But a flurry of foul language, an unnecessary romantic obstacle, and a negative view of Christianity really make this hard for me to recommend to people I know who would normally like this type of book. Not to mention, the book sort of crashes to an end. Maybe the author will make a sequel, but I would really like to know what happens after the end...there is much left up in the air. Perhaps people who didn't have the issues I did will enjoy it more. And if this ever becomes a movie (and it would make a good movie in the right hands), I would definitely go see it. As for myself, I give this a solid three stars.