[Blog Tour: Interview & Giveaway] Rapture (Rapture #1) by Phillip W. Simpson

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1:27 PM

In Phillip Simpson's novel, Rapture, you find yourself tagging along on a journey of epic proportions as the main character Sam struggles to save those who were left behind after the Rapture. But who is going to want to be saved by a boy who is half-demon anyway?


REVIEW


Title: Rapture
Author: Phillip W. Simpson
Publish Date: September 1, 2011
Publisher: Pear Jam Books
Pages: 300
Other Books in the Series: Tribulation (Rapture #2), Apocalypse (Rapture #3)
Buy the Book: Amazon | Smashwords
Rating: ★★★★

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.

There is one simple fact about this cover: it is eye-candy. The second thing I wanted to say was this: I am happy that I got the opportunity to read it.

Rapture by Phillip W. Simpson is the story of Sam, a boy he always knew he was different and was aware that he would never be accepted because of it. Choices made long before he was born led to the terrible truth about his existence: he was not simply a human boy but rather a half-demon, conceived to bring about the apocalypse. What Satan had not considered was that the humanity in him would be stronger than any demonic urges that would be thrown at him. It was not planned for him to be raised up as a sort of savior to the people left behind after the Rapture. Yet here he was, doing exactly that. Now, a new Antichrist has risen up in the midst of all this horror and Sam's destiny seemed to be entwined with this unknown figure. His charge from heaven is to save the innocent and to finish off the Antichrist. Even I can say that it is a lot of pressure to be putting on some teenage kid. But he is no ordinary teenager and by the time the book is over, it's pretty clear.

The plot is actually very beautiful. Is that weird? I found the subject intriguing because the way it entangled both religion and a dystopian world was something that I had not considered. I've found that it is easier to separate the two completely from each other than to combine them. It's hard to make an appealing story when the book is basically saying, 'Those who are left behind are screwed because they sinned in life,' but there is a certain amount of humanity to the story. Of course, if Sam hadn't been there to act as some sort of savior to those left behind and protect them from going to Hell, I would've had a hard time with the story. It showed that even in the darkest of hours there is hope. No one is perfect so why condemn them straight away?

Sam, the main character, showed from the beginning that he was a strong character both physically, mentally, and emotionally. I suppose you would have to be in order to survive the things that he had to endure as the protector for this fallen world. In a matter of moments, he lost everyone that he had ever held dear to him and was left behind in a world that was ruled by demons. He could have easily lost hope in his destiny and lost touch with who he truly was but he held true to himself. It would have been hard to suddenly find himself surrounded by the people who once judged him -- who once hated him because he was so different. Why should he play savior for people who had always hated him or were most likely going to by the time everything was over? He knew that they would never be grateful for his efforts, because who would ever admit to feeling gratitude toward some half-demon creature? Even if he looked human, he knew he wasn't and so did they. I have a lot of respect for him in the sense that he protects everyone, even his enemies. I doubt I would have been willing to do what he must to fulfill his destiny. He earned a lot of props for giving away food to people who would never care for him. 

Even if he was half-demon, I think he is more human, more caring, more sacrificing than anyone else in this world. He is prepared to give up it all for the sake of a cause that made him an outcast.

I was curious about Hikari when he was first introduced to the story. I'll admit that I'm not used to having the term 'master' be used in the oriental context, which threw me off for a bit. I am taking history as one of my courses this semester so that's probably why. But for someone who I could've easily hated, there was something that just begged to be loved about him. He saw Sam as his son despite the fact that he was not and he accepted Sam for who he was because he knew that somewhere instead this boy, there was a strong will growing. It was hard to see how much certain things that happened to Sam affected him. I could literally feel the strong bond between the two of them and I crave to have that with my own father. It's funny how that works out. There is almost an undeniable ache left behind once he is gone, which is hard to read. Aimi is the daughter of Hikari and a couple years younger than Sam. She is mature for her age, something I can understand since she probably had to grow up faster than anyone else ever has. For knowing Sam's true nature, she never seemed to doubt that he was a good person and she rushed to his aid when he needed someone to be on his side. I liked that. She is Sam's best friend, she has seen him at his worst, and knows that he will do his best to fulfill his destiny. 

Overall, I really liked the way the story flowed and how the characters developed over the course of the book. I liked the way that it shifted from present to past, giving me insight into the characters who were no longer around since the Rapture. 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phillip W. Simpson is an author of mostly children's books - both fiction and non-fiction.

As well as being a writer, he is an elementary school teacher. Career highlights include being in the army, gaining a Masters in Archaeology, owning a comic stop, becoming obsessed with martial arts and oriental weapons, and turning down a job at the British museum.

His YA novel RAPTURE (the first in the Rapture trilogy) was released Sept. 1st, 2011 by Pear Jam books. RAPTURE is a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story about the end of the world featuring demons, angels, and a half demon protagonist caught in the middle. RAPTURE was shortlisted for Sir Julius Vogel award for best Youth novel.

Book 2, TRIBULATION, was released in December 2012. The final book, APOCALYPSE, will be out early 2013.

On a personal note, he is married to Rose, has a son (Jack), and two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, football (aka soccer), and single malt Whiskeys. 

Book Website: www.rapturetrilogy.com
Author Website(s): www.phillipwsimpson.com AND www.phillipwsimpson.co.nz
Blog: www.phillipwsimpson.com/blog
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PhillipWSimpson.Author
Twitter: @PhillipWSimpson
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5167118.Phillip_William_Simpson

EXCERPT



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.


INTERVIEW



  1. I know a lot of authors hate the question about what inspired them to write a story but I’m always curious. So here’s my question: what led to your interest in writing the story?

Because I love end of the world scenarios where you think ‘what would I do in that situation?’ My wife and I often have conversations (probably as a result of watching too many zombie movies) about what we would do if we found ourselves in this position. How would we survive? Where would we go? Who would be with us? I also like stories about survival and one person or a small group fighting against a world gone mad. Even though I love zombies and vampires, I wanted to write something that had more of a fresh appeal. I’d read the Left Behind series years ago and using the concept of the Rapture as a stepping off point started to percolate. The Left Behind series puts the characters in a contemporary setting. I wanted to tie in my love of fantasy with that and have a far more surreal backdrop. Plus, I love anything with angels and demons and end of the world scenarios.


  1. Are there any messages in the story that you want the readers to grasp by the time they finish the book?

That’s a tricky one. I’m fascinated by end of the world scenarios, possibly because I read lots of books and watch tons of movies about them. I like the idea of being prepared for a disaster and thinking what I would do in that situation but I certainly hope it never eventuates. The end of the world could happen in lots of different ways. A zombie apocalypse, virus, disease, nuclear war, the Rapture, hit by a meteorite, natural disasters – you get the idea. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. I suppose then that my message is ‘be prepared.’ I also wanted to explore the themes of nature versus nurture. I’m a school teacher by day and often find myself musing over children’s behavior. Do they behave the way they do because they were born that way or is it because of their upbringing? I often wonder what would happen if a certain child was brought up in a loving family. I’m positive it would turn out for the best. That’s where I went with Sam (the main character). Even though he’s inherently bad (demon), he’s spent all his life being nurtured in a loving (albeit slightly dysfunctional) human family. Finally, don't judge a book by its cover. A person should be judged on their actions rather than their appearance.


  1. Now, I am going to ask a question that typically isn’t a favorable question. I’m going to ask you to pick favorites. Who is your favorite character to write and why? Which character do you relate the most to?

Aimi is probably my least favorite – just because I’m not a teenage girl and never have been. How on earth does a grown man get into the head of a teenage girl? I can't figure my wife out half the time. But when you are writing dialogue you have to try and get in the characters head. It can be a challenge. At least with Sam, I can relate because I was once a teenage boy. Sam is probably my favorite character just because he is so tragic and yet so brave and powerful. He likes to be alone (even though, conversely, he does crave human companionship) and spend time outdoors, hiking and training. I like to go hiking and have a slight obsession with martial training. I did six years of kung fu and now do MMA (mixed martial arts) twice a week. I also find martial weapons  - especially swords like the katana -  a thing of beauty. I admire the workmanship and the long hours that has gone into their creation. Much like writing a book.


  1. The process of creating characters seems to be very complex and different for each writer. Did you base any of your characters off of people you know in real life? Did you have them go through similar experiences that people you know or you have gone through?

Adam, the leader of the Black Ridge survivors is based on one on my friends. His name is, well, Adam. He’s solid and dependable, too. I killed off quite a few of my other friends in the book too. Grace’s Aunty and Uncle (Greg and Linda Muller) are good friends in real life. I killed them off without giving them a scene. Lots of friends have asked to be included in the books (their names in any case), but I keep warning them that they will probably die. As for similar experiences, no-one I know personally has endured the torment poor Sam suffers in the Trilogy.


  1. What was your favorite scene to write? I’ve always liked that authors seem to never favor the same type of scenes. Some are all for the action and suspense scenes while others prefer the complex, deep, and emotional scenes. Which type of scenes do you prefer to write?

The opening scene in Rapture is where the main character, Sam, is waiting in the darkness for the demons to emerge and come for him. I find these types of scenes quite scary. The whole unknown quantity. The audience at this point don’t know what is coming for him, who he is and what has happened to the world. It’s a very tense scene and as a result, was very enjoyable but quite intense for me to write. I like writing action sequences. I go through them in my head and practice some of the moves to ensure they make sense. But I really like emotionally charged scenes as well such as the death of a major character. Scenes like that often make me cry so while they are incredibly difficult to write, they are also extremely satisfying.


  1. Most authors place a lot of value on pre-writing rituals to help them prepare for writing different scenes and getting into a character’s mind. Do you have any?

For preparation, I get on the rowing machine in the morning and listen to my ipod. That’s when I do most of my thinking. I visualize the scenes in my head and the exercise clears my head and gets me charged up. I then drink about three cups of coffee while I'm running the conversations through my head or thinking about how a character would react to a certain situation.


  1. What books have influenced your life the most? Or rather what characters have made the biggest impact on you?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I absolutely-cannot-put-it-down-read-it-until-I’d-finished loved it. I loved the bleak, ash-covered world and the washed out colors. I loved the perseverance of the father in the face of almost overwhelming odds. Like many, I got into fantasy because of Tolkien. I must have read the Hobbit when I was seven. Jack Vance is my all-time favorite author. He is just such a wordsmith. One of my favorite characters is Cugel the Clever. And I love the Lee Child's character of Jack Reacher. All these characters have similarities in that they face adversity largely alone and come up with creative solutions to overcome obstacles. Much like Sam.


  1. Because I’m a huge fan of reading and love different authors because of their different writing styles, I’m curious about whether you have that same experience. I like certain ways that authors word things and it seems to influence the way I write. Do you have any authors that you would consider influential on your writing?

Jack Vance's style is magical and has a timeless charm. Effortless. He is very descriptive though and I really wanted to try and get away from that a bit with my latest novels (I have been guilty of it before) because it has a tendency to slow down the narrative. I also wanted to rev up my pacing. I’d read a few of Lee Child’s books (Jack Reacher novels) just before starting Rapture and I really liked his pared down, thrifty approach to his prose. I think he has definitely influenced my writing style.


  1. Are there any new books that have come out or are coming out that have caught your attention?

I've got more books than you can poke a stick at. I keep buying more so I don't get to read half of them. Next in line is Battle Royale by Japanese writer Koushun Takami (1999). I've been reading lots of great reviews about zombies and the zombie apocalypse which I'm tempted to bite (ha!) into.


  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  

This sounds trite because every author says it but it’s true – write, write, and then write some more. Read lots. Write in the genre you love. I’ve become a better writer because I read and write a lot. Practice makes perfect. Develop a thick skin and be prepared to get back on the horse every time you fall off. You will face rejection and criticism in the course of your writing career.

FOLLOW THE TOUR


April 3 - Bookworm Avenue [PROMO]
April 4 - Paperback Princess [Review & Interview]
April 5 - Books, Books, and More Books [Review]
April 6 - Word to Dreams [Review]
April 8 - Gimme The Scoop  [PROMO]
April 8 - Reader Girls [Review & Interview]
April 9 - Lov Liv Life Reviews [Guest Post & PROMO]
April 10 - Cherie Reads  [Review]
April 11 - RABT Reviews [Review]
April 11 - Books, Authors, Blogs [Review]
April 12 - Bibliophilia: A Love Story [Review & Interview]

GIVEAWAY

This is a giveaway for 3 Print Copies of Rapture and 1 Print Copy of Tribulation

About the author

Bailee is the type of person you would expect to find with her nose buried in a book or a notebook and a pencil in hand. She loves reading and she loves reviewing the books she reads. This is certainly becoming a passion of hers.

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