Title: The Rain
Author: Virginia Bergin
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
One minute sixteen-year-old Ruby Morris is having her first proper snog with Caspar McCloud in a hot tub, and the next she’s being bundled inside the house, dripping wet, cold and in her underwear. Not cool. As she and Caspar shiver in the kitchen, it starts to rain. They turn on the radio to hear panicked voices – ‘It’s in the rain . . . it’s in the rain . . . ' That was two weeks ago, and now Ruby is totally alone. People weren’t prepared for the rain, got caught out in it, didn’t realize that you couldn’t drink water from the taps either. Even a drip of rain would infect your blood, and eat you from the inside out. Ruby knows she has to get to London to find her dad, but she just doesn’t know where to start . . . After rescuing all the neighbourhood dogs, Ruby sets off on a journey that will take her the length of the country – surviving in the only way she knows how.
Julies Thoughts :
I opened up The Rain by Virginia Bergen, began reading, and appreciated from the off the authenticity of the main character’s ‘voice’. Could the voice be considered annoying? Well, teenagers can be annoying, right? However, I’d much rather read a novel that is written from the POV of a teen actually sounding like a teen, rather than the age of the author—which happens quite a lot. So, immediately, this book got thumbs up for that from me.
As for the main character herself? Well, to be honest, Ruby doesn’t really go through a whole lot of character development, attitude or personality wise. She does, however, grow a lot stronger in her grasp of her situation and her ability to survive. And it was her survival that absorbed my attention and kept me reading in a need to see it through. I’ll come back to this in a moment, though. First, I want to take a look at the plot.
So, we have rain—poisoned rain. Rain with the ability to inflict anyone who comes into contact with it with a bacterial sickness that slowly (or quickly, depending on exposure) eats them from the inside out. Is this believable? Heck, yes. However, the author added in an angle that the microscopic organisms, ones undefeatable by anything on earth (at least during the span of the book), had arrived to merge with our earth’s atmosphere from an exploded/diverted meteor—hence making it an alien substance? Yeah, this angle made it slightly less believable, and I didn’t believe it was required in order for the reader to ‘grab me at hello’, if you catch my drift.
That aside, I still enjoyed the story. A lot. Because the author didn’t pull any punches. She didn’t pretty anything up. She simply told the story she’d decided to tell exactly as it needed to be told. So, a character gets affected by the rain and starts to bleed and look pretty gross? I knew exactly what they looked like. People the MC knows are dying/have died around her? I knew exactly what that looked/felt/sounded like to Ruby. Riots break out—because they totally would—when townsfolk go looting—which they seriously would—for anything from food to water (definitely water!!!!) to flat-screen TVs—as ridiculous as it sounds, this most probablywould happen because folk often act irrationally in a crisis—I understood exactly what was happening and when and grasped the fear that came with that kind of horrifying situation. From a description perspective, I can’t really fault the writing. Because, yes, I knew everything that was happening at any given time, and every bit of it was fed to me with gory-fied vibrancy.
In fact, I don’t think there was a singular point in this story where I didn’t feel Ruby’s plight. Her quiet desperation. Her willingness to survive. Her absolute fear—because let’s face it: imagine a world where no natural water is safe to drink without deathly consequences and you know the bottled stuff is only going to last so long …<<This angle of the story was seriously scary to consider or imagine. It heightened the desperation of the entire community/country/world around Ruby’s own desperation, and left my mind reeling with horrific possibilities and trying to figure out ‘what would *I* do?’
And during all of this, Ruby didn’t once lose her voice, or her personality. Even through the thick of danger and stress, her teenage attitude and selfishness shone through—though her selfishness dimmed a little as the story went on, and by the end, it seemed a whole lot more to be a kind of coping mechanism than anything else. Because by the end, she realised she did need someone else. She realised she couldn’t mentally/emotionally make it on her own. Proven, when that emotional lifeline she’d been holding onto gets stolen from her in a traditional teenage style, and she turns to the only thing she has left. Hope. Blind hope. It’s this which drives to where the story ends. This that drives her to finally behave the way she does.
And the ending of the book? The room for speculation we’re left with? It’s a fine line trying to work out in my mind how things could have worked out for this character I came to really like, because that same hope and clinging to it, with the tight grip Ruby is/was, could very well end up being the very thing that ensures death.
So, in a post apocalyptic sense, think along the lines of This is Not a Test as to how the reader is left pondering over impossibilities and uncertainties, and then imagine that story written with a new danger and fresh ‘journey’, and you’ll probably sum up The Rainfairly well. Check it out. I think folk who enjoy a ‘true’ teenage ‘voice’ will enjoy it.