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Rapture (2012)

by Kameron Hurley

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1746112,893 (3.98)5
After years in exile, Nyxnissa so Dasheem is back in action in service to the bel dames, a sisterhood of elite government assassins tasked with eliminating deserters and traitors. The end of a centuries-long holy war between her country, Nasheen, and neighboring Chenja has flooded the streets of Nasheen with unemployed - and unemployable - soldiers whose frustrations have brought the nation to the brink of civil war. Not everyone likes this tenuous and unpredictable "peace," however, and somebody has kidnapped a key politician whose death could trigger a bloody government takeover. With aliens in the sky and revolution on the ground, Nyx assembles a team of mad magicians, torturers,and mutant shape-shifters for an epic journey across a flesh-eating desert in search of a man she's not actually supposed to kill. Trouble is, killing is the only thing Nyx is good at. And she already left this man to die... Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.… (more)

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Do you like meat grinders?

I won't lie. This is a difficult book to read. It's not so much filled with blood, guts, and bugs, (although it has plenty,) but it's the omnipresent oppressive machine of this world that grinds everyone down into so much pulpy protein.

As a SF, Hurley's work is very, very imaginative and rich, never resting on old ideas to pump out new stories.

She steadfastly brings in some of the most promising and far-reaching and immediate settings, and they're so damn real that I swear I have to reset my filter... a bunch of locusts keep messing with my hair.

Most impressively, though, is the devotion Hurley has to tackling all the deepest and darkest niches of our everyday lives, including family vs duty, team vs self, religion vs reality, hard choices vs sanity, and most importantly, it's a never-ending discussion about what comes after love and loss. Of course, the same thing could be said about the whole world, here, but its the individual characters who suffer, and by god, everyone suffers.

The fleeting moments of happiness are few and in general the tone is always one of stoic acceptance, so we don't absolutely have to roll in all the excised organs, tongues replaced with a symbiotic bugs, or the fact that every gift comes with three or four fatal strings attached.

But they do.

God, these are very oppressive books.

Impressive, and gorgeous in their way, with amazingly deep character studies and worldbuilding, but these novels are definitely not easy. (The writing is fine. I'm only referring to the subject matter.)

I can respect this one along with the other two in the series, but I must confess, it's almost too much for me. Idea speculation is the trade of SF, but there's two sides to it. There's the question and there's the answer. Putting all these idea elements together into a novel and then offering up this world makes a wonderfully complex stew, but the only thing I take away is that life is hard and things are complex.

In other words, this is a reflection of real life.

Okay, so I don't live being beset by aliens in a war-ground with shapeshifters and magicians with everyone around me mired in the fallout of a holy war, but the similarities are everywhere, regardless.

It takes a grand imagination to pull that off.

But here's where I find issue with it: Perhaps I didn't want to be shown a world hopelessly tied up in its crazy with no real solution. Character studies don't need solutions, but more often than not, a world-building SF generally gives us some sort of drastic change in the setting. (Something more than a shapeshifter revolution or a resumption of civil war. All of that has been practically the norm. I keep thinking of a real resolution that's unusual for these people. Like prosperity. Like real peace. As it is, I just feel sad for them.) *sigh*

Still, it was a very impressive ride. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I didn't enjoy this as much as the previous books in the series. The main story is great, but the machinations underpinning everything are hard to follow and not a great payoff in the end. That's because i was invested in the characters in Nyxnissa's band, but there's no payoff for them. Just for the Queens and generals movings the pawn pieces. And there's almost no story for them. Powerful people really don't need to be part of the lives of pawns; Rapture embodies that. ( )
  KingRat | Oct 28, 2017 |
Rapture is a satisfying end to Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy. If you’re at all a fan of gritty science fiction with world building that examines gender roles or complicated female anti-heroes, you need to pick up the first book, God’s War, right away.

Rapture takes place seven years after Infidel. Nyx has gone into retirement on the coast. She’s living with a friend and her friend’s kids, and she even has a girlfriend. Then, she gets pulled out of retirement to complete one last job. If she does, Fatimah makes it clear that everyone in the life Nyx has built for herself will be killed. The job? Nyx, the killer, must save her old nemesis Raine, now a political leader of the men who’ve returned from the war front. What follows is a long bloody journey that explores the world as never before.

Easily my favorite thing about this series is Nyx herself. She’s complicated and messy and broken and tough and resilient. She’s strong without being a “Strong Female Character” and all the lack of complexities that implies. She’s strong without being that “Strong But Inwardly Vulnerable” woman who inevitably falls into tears in the arms of her male love interest. Nyx is a woman who makes tough, bloody decisions and fully accepts the responsibility for them. She’s old and tired, but she knows how to survive. She tries not to care for people (although she sometimes does), and she brings death and destruction to everyone near her. The narrative and Nyx herself continually question if she’s a monster.

“There is no place for you in this new world,” Fatima said.
“That’s what I’m hoping,” said Nyx. “If you had any goddamn sense, you’d hope so too.”

Change is a foot in Nasheen. The centuries long war is ending, but Nasheen was built around the war. The boys are flooding home from the front, but where’s their place in Nasheenian society without the war? And what will become of the bel dames, who made their living beheading deserters?

These aren’t questions that Rapture pretends to answer. There’s a lot of ambiguity to the ending of the trilogy, but there’s also hope. Just maybe, things will change for the better.

This is a series that I will remember and treasure. If you’re a fan of the previous two books, I hope you found Rapture as satisfying a conclusion as I did. If you’re new to the dangerous world of Umayma, I can’t recommend this series and its protagonist enough.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Aug 3, 2015 |
Every time I think this series can't get any more weird and wonderful it turns into an epic trek across a desert full of giant centipedes, or something like that. Also a damn good end to the series, with everyone's storylines wrapped up - well, not nicely, but appropriately. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 17, 2015 |
A fitting end to Nyx's stories. It took me a little while to remember plot structures from Infidel (2nd in the series) and get my plot-bearings, but plot isn't really what I read the Bel Dame books for.

Hurley does a masterful job of characterization. The world, stresses, choices, and their results show in Nyx's body, and this is what I read for. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
....the many elements which makes Rapture such a blistering, breathless, and energized read. It gambols through action set-pieces and explosive violence with nimble dexterity, and Hurley writes muscular prose which, whilst rarely approaching poetry, has developed a style of its own.
added by karenb | editStrange Horizons, Dan Hartland (Apr 15, 2013)
 
Hurley writes ferocious, uncompromising action, but she’s also developing a very strong hand with character beats. Rapture is the culmination of arcs of growth that have been progressing since the early pages of God’s War, incremental acts and decisions paying off in sometimes surprising ways. Bad decisions, too: there is an element, as Marissa Lingen noted, of “Let’s get the band back together in order to kill them horribly.”
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.. Throughout this trilogy, Hurley appears to have been developing a thematic argument about the ethical possibilities open to people living in a world riven by violence, where long-term survival relies in large part on luck and selfishness. Or on being able to profit from someone else’s violence. Even the landscape is inimical, filled with things that can kill inevitably, or unexpectedly: to disdain the violence that keeps you alive, or healthy, or wealthy, is to slide towards the hypocritical.
added by feeling.is.first | editTor.com, Liz Bourke (Oct 24, 2012)
 
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