Cover Image: Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind

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Member Reviews

This would be an extraordinary book to read in normal times. In 2020, it is almost too much to take. Don't look away: read this book that tells you so much about the state of modern America.
An affluent white family go to an Airbnb house in the Hampton for a short break. Everything seems fine until one night when the owners of the house knock on the door. They are black. The mother of the white family does not expect a black family to own that sort of house. 
That would be enough drama for most books. As the two families have to co-exist, terrible things happen not far away. We do not learn what they are and the world we know is over. Read on.
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~ Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam ~

The concept of this book should have been really interesting. A white family are on holidays in an AirBNB in Long Island, when the black couple who own the place arrive in the night insisting there's been a blackout and that the city isn't safe.

I had been looking forward to reading this book, especially considering I hadn't seen one negative review on it on instagram. However, after five chapters I was wondering if I should leave the book behind. But I thought I should give it more of a chance...

Look, the idea was there but the prose was overwritten and largely inconsequential. I spent a lot of my time reading this book laughing at the overly verbose language and shaking my head at the constant allusions to genitalia. slide into my DMs if you want some laughable quotes. 

I don't like posting negative reviews. I think if you're looking for some 5h1ts and giggles then definitely go for this book. You might even think it's a thrilling page-turner. However, I personally felt hoodwinked into reading it and wanted to post an honest review. 

⭐

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A curiously inconclusive ending to this book but one that does in fact make the growing sense of a deep, dark future - if indeed there is one - all the more sinister. Good character portrayal with a realistic, honest and blunt sense of how just such a situation could affect regular individuals.
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This is a book where not a lot happens but it's still brilliantly weird and attention grabbing. Set over 3 days it's tense, claustrophobic and the sense of panic is overwhelming. With phones, internet and TV not working, Amanda and Clay  have no idea what's going on. They feel helpless without information. They have to take the word of these strangers who have turned up in the middle of the night. Often I find the scarier situation is not knowing what is going on, the fear of the unknown, rather than the author spelling it out. I love the mystery. As the reader we do not know whate fate is going to bestow on these people.

I liked how the relationships changed between the two couples. They are relying on each other, safety in numbers and it definitely does feel safer to stay in the house. As one couple are white and one couple are black, I liked the social commentary on racial stereotypes. And I agree with one newspaper review which said it had undertones of the Jordan Peele movie Get Out.

Reading this book now, in the middle of a pandemic does give a heightened experience. The author drip feeds us information of the terrible things that are happening in the outside world. But we don't get any answers. In fact, for the majority of the book, we don't know what's going on, but that makes it all the more weird and wonderful. A great example of the genre.
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This book was really really enjoyable. Massively unnerving, tense and possibly not the best choice to read during an already claustrophobic pandemic. It’s fairly short, perhaps too short as I felt as though it lacked a real punch beyond invoking a lot of tension. A lot is touched on, briefly, but never really explored. You can tell the author wants to speak to parenthood, race, class and humanity, and he begins to but never really fully delivers. I’d have like it to be fleshed out a little more but otherwise it definitely managed to spook me out!
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I didn’t finish this one. I found the style so annoying, I just couldn’t continue. I’ve seen all these wonderful reviews in goodreads, but this novel is not for me I’m afraid.
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How would you react if there was a major blackout and you had no way of finding out what has happened?  This book is a definite page turner but I did find the first half of the book was stuff full of obscure and complex words that didn’t really need to be there.  This tailed off towards the end of the book so maybe Rumaan had lost his dictionary by then!  I am also not sure the sexual references really fit with the book.  However, I did enjoy it but not sure I will be rushing to tell everyone about it.  I can imagine if this is made into a film by Netflix it will get everyone talking about it!
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An interesting read about a family going on a break to a house in the middle of nowhere. The owners turn up with an excuse to be there which starts everything in motion. A family drama with racism and class wars thrown in. Enjoyable read
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Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book, which I finished in two sittings. I loved it, wanted more, and cried at the end, which weirdly felt like not the end.
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This was surely an interesting read. It's a family drama than the apocalypse, but it explores lots of dynamics like race, class. There's good commentary. It's a slow burn, lots of descriptions, so if you expect a page turner, that's not it. 
Overall, it was a good book that I enjoyed to read. 
Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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This was a slow burn, and at one point I considered giving up on it. I'm so glad I didn't! This is an absolutely astonishing book, and I will be urging every customer in my shop to read it. I will be reading it again, now I have read the story I will want to go back again to experience the exquisite writing without hurrying to get some answers.
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Well, I have to admit I chose this to read/review primarily on the information about a future Netflix series!
With hindsight this book did not prove to be a good read for me - nothing to do with the subject matter but more to do with the slowness and long descriptive sections of text linking the odd important events in the couple of days at the B&B.
I can see this is very much a topical read but I couldn't tell whether the author is a disciple of David Attenborough and/or has sleepless nights worrying about Iran, North Korea etc. I was hoping for something of an ending in fiction rather than reaching the cliff edge and stopping. Who knows?!
However, there are some absolutely superb comments/sentences throughout the book but it is a bit like the old treasure hunt computer games where you have to struggle through masses of text/pictures simply to find the one nugget hidden in the room.
This is a very subjective review without me getting involved in the whys and wherefores of the book.  Doubtful I will watch on Netflix
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A fantastic and addicting read exploring race, class, and family dynamics--less an apocalypse novel and more of a family drama, but it will keep you up late reading more. One of my favourite reads of the year!
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Without anything really happening this book has managed to scare me, worry me, excite me and challenge me!
What an amazing idea that seems so close and yet I think we are all so similar to the characters that it is haunting to think how unprepared we would be for such a disaster.
Would you, could you step up? What do you really know, what can you really do without your phone or technology to help you, guide you. Good Samaritan or survivalist? So much in this book and it seemed like it sped through!
I feel like I should learn some survivalist skills and stock up on tinned foods etc!!
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Dense, intelligent, thought-provoking, terrifying, it’s all there in this short but highly original novel. It starts lightly with an all- American family going on holiday, settling into the rented house, buying provisions, easing down, then it all changes and how. Racism, culture, disaster, survival, all played out with a narrator who tells us snippets of what is happening in the city, tells us what the future is bringing. It’s scary and realistic and makes you think.
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Leave the World Behind is one of those books that catches you by surprise and you'll be thinking about for days after.  I felt very strange leaving the house after reading the book as the events really get to you.

It starts off very average - sounding like a family holiday to the ideal airbnb in the middle of nowhere.  After a while, they and you get the impression that something is very wrong, especially when the owners of the house turn up.

It has a real dystopian feel about it and like most successful dystopian novels, the disaster or change in the world is only hinted at.  Also, the ending has that hint of hope, which is all that can be dreamed for at the end.
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A couple and their two teenage children rent a home in the countryside for a weeks holiday. The night after they arrive an older couple knock on the door saying that they are the owners of the house and that there has been a blackout in the city and they have come home.
Although they have electricity, the telephone, television, radio and mobile phones are not working so they don’t know what’s going on. 
A slow moving claustrophobic story that has plenty of tension but little action.
I was disappointed in the ending because it never explained what was happening or the fate of the characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for my e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
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One of the most hyped literary thrillers of the year (it's already been optioned by Netflix, with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington lined up to star), I had high hopes for Rumann Alam's 'Leave the World Behind'. However, what followed picking it up was a disappointing and self-indulgent read that unfortunately left a lot to be desired. 

Synopsis
Having booked a holiday at a luxurious home in a remote part of Long Island, Amanda and Clay can't wait to escape from New York City for a week with their children. Everything is perfect - until a knock at the door changes everything. The owners of the house, Ruth and G.H., have arrived, not knowing where else to go after an unexplained power outage has brought the city to a standstill. Now stuck together, and with no way to contact the outside world, both families must face their new realities, navigating the uncomfortable circumstances that have brought them together while working to each ensure their own survival.

Review
I really wanted to love this book as I was excited by the hype, but I sadly ended up being very disappointed. A book about what is potentially the end of the world as we know it could not be more timely right now, ‘Leave the World Behind’ explores privilege and the mundanity of everyday life in a really interesting way. However, Rumaan Alam also makes it unbearably clear that he is aware of his own cleverness, writing in a way that comes across as conceited and arrogant. At his most extreme, Alam even breaks the fourth wall to get the reader to acknowledge his writing prowess - literally writing '(get it?)’ after an unexciting reference to something that previously happened in the book.

The ending of this book was also incredibly unsatisfying. Throughout the book, the plot is confusing and convoluted, with almost every end-of-the-world trope - from losing teeth and mass animal migration to unexplainable noises and no ways of connecting to the outside world - featuring at some point. By the ending, it finally feels like the plot is going somewhere, and that you're going to be given an explanation that ties all of these tropes together. However, the book instead ends in what feels like the middle of a chapter.

Additionally, none of the characters in the book are particularly likeable which, whilst serving to highlight Alam’s point that people often don’t think as we would hope, also makes it hard to remain invested in what happens to them. This is because, in this instance, not likeable is equated to being bland and boring. The only character I was particularly interested in was Clay and Amanda’s daughter, Rose, who begins to come into her own in the last chapter, only to have her character development disappointingly cut short when the book abruptly ends.

Another important thing to be aware of is that a lot of sexual language is used throughout the book, including in relation to Clay and Amanda's children. This isn't something I picked up on too much as it is part of Alam’s overall style, however, having flicked through Goodreads to check if I'd just missed what has caused this book to gain so much hype, this made several other readers feel uncomfortable.

In summary, while this book was sold based on a really intriguing premise, the writing style means that there are far more interesting books on this topic out there. If you do still want to pick it up, I'd advise waiting until the Netflix adaptation - until then, you won't be missing out.

Rating: 2/5

This book was kindly gifted to me in the form of an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. My thanks go to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and NetGalley for providing me with a copy.
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To sum up this book in one word?  Alluding.  There is some great characterisation and human interaction, but the foundation of this book is all about alluding to one great event that happens.  The central theme is alluded to but never really explained, allowing the reader to guess from crumbs of hints.  Cause and effect magnified without the reader ever getting clarity.  But this really works as it encourages the reader to assume and guess.
 
The central characters pull and push throughout and the plot grabs you and holds you close until the end.  Because you begin to know and care about these central characters, the looseness of the plot can sag as these characters hold up a pretty interesting and entertaining book, with the real stars being these wonderfully created people who sparkle in their own mundane way.
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I love dystopian and disaster fiction and 'Leave the World Behind' is an interesting take on it. I loved the setup, especially the way Alam played with what is known and what is not. I was very engaged by the realism in that after a major event people may not have a clue what happened or even if anything happened. What I wasn't so keen on was the writing style - often painfully overworked descriptions, especially the constant and extremely detailed references to everyone's bodies. It came across as creepy and weird and is probably half the reason that I didn't like a single character.

What I did enjoy was the slow burn and sense of confusion throughout the book. I liked that the characters behaved in ways I imagine normal people would instead of the standard book hero. I loved the omniscient narrator's comments and I liked the ending not being locked up. Most importantly I did nothing but read from the moment I started until I was finished and I will be thinking about this for a long time.
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