Rapture by Kameron Hurley. ★★★★
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.