Author: Kameron Hurley
Publisher: Nightshade Books (2012)
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Length: 372 pages
My rating: 5 stars = please send more
Since the events of Infidel, government assassin-turned-bounty hunter Nyxnissa so Dasheem has been in self-imposed exile, in Druce. The millennia-long war with Chenja is over, and she’s called back for one last mission. Fatima, now a ranking member of the Bel Dame council, threatens everyone she cares about if she does not bring back to Nasheen the leader of the men’s rights movement. With the war’s end, Nasheen’s adult male population has come home from the front, most of them unemployed and unemployable. The future is uncertain, and the present is a powderkeg ready to explode.
Nyx assembles a new crew and heads north, out of Nasheen and into the desert wasteland to the north. Two story arcs run parallel to hers. We follow Rhys, also headed north, also on compulsion out of love (or is it fear?) for the ones he loves. He has not had a happy time since we last saw him. Inaya and Eshe meanwhile have their troubles in Ras Tieg, where civil war is brewing between shifters and religious fanatics.
Rapture is as thrilling a read as the two other installments in the trilogy. Hurley twists the three major narrative threads into a complicated story about war and the possibility of peace. She raises important questions about the treatment of minorities, finding one’s place in the world, and the treatment of war veterans (and the shifting gender power dynamics that go along with it).
Equally compelling is the worldbuilding. The author gives hints at what is going on beyond the handful of countries where most of the series’ action has taken place. Far to the north, the world is wild, teeming with organic material left over from terraforming and colonizing the planet. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it is fair to say that Hurley left her greatest reveals for the end and then left me wanting more.
I strongly recommend Rapture if you read Infidel. The author expands the scope and depth of the story, and explores some of the unresolved issues that her characters have struggled with since the beginning of the trilogy. Not everything is tied up neatly in the end, but I think that is one of the strengths of the Bel Dame Apocrypha: nothing ever comes to a neat end, but the possibility of a better future is always just within reach. If God’s War and Infidel were about defending the status quo, holding the line and thus surviving, Rapture is about daring to explore the possibilities.