Book Review: Leave the World Behind by Ruuman Alam

  Leave the World Behind  by Rumaan Alam Genre:  Literary Fiction, Suspense Synopsis:   Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of...


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Genre: Literary Fiction, Suspense

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism (particularly White Privilege and microaggressions), bodily horror, missing child

Overall rating:  ★★☆☆☆

Leave the World Behind has a long list of fans, including President Obama. I had incredibly high hopes for the book. The synopsis sounds so intriguing and thrilling. In fact, the book being marketed as a drama/literary fiction title seemed odd to me because the synopsis sounds fully like a thriller. And while the book definitely has some “thriller”-style themes and could’ve gone in the direction of that genre, it went in a totally different direction and becomes fully literary fiction. This is the kind of book you’d read for an upper-level literature class to analyze over and over. It tries too hard with its language and likes to use *big words* to feel smart. This book takes heavy advantage of literary devices and to me, that’s its biggest flaw. 

"If they weren't human in this moment, what were they?"

The book starts out so promising and I was fully engaged. I just needed to know what was going on and if anyone could be trusted. There was so much happening, things which were often very realistic, and because of that, very frightening. Then there were other things happening that were full tilt horror movie scary, things that were never explained. What was done really well was the exploration of the human condition. This book is very much a case study in White Privilege and the assumptions made based on a person's skin color and visual identity. Simultaneously, there were weirdly uncomfortable moments of nudity that seemed entirely odd and I’m not sure why they were even part of the book??? 

 The biggest kick to the balls though was the fact that literally everything was left unresolved. I’ve never in my life felt so unsatisfied with the ending of a book. NEVER. I was so engrossed in the story, the writing itself was absolutely phenomenal, and then there it was. It was over. And it felt like a total waste of my time. I’m still disappointed when I think about this book and it’s potential. And maybe some folks love that type of enormous cliffhanger, but to me, I just felt like the book was left unfinished.

*I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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