Cover Image: Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind

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Member Reviews

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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Holiday Turns Bleak...
A holiday turns bleak in this atmospheric, often poignant and chilling, suspense laced with dark humour. A growing sense of tension but with stiff characters, often not credible, and sometimes  jarring prose. Literary fiction with a dark edge.
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Leave the World Behind creates a claustrophobic, creepy atmosphere that makes you as desperate as the characters to find out what's going on. Not an ideal distraction in the middle of a pandemic but it definitely makes you empathise with them. Although the ending doesn't provide many answers it was a satisfying read.. Ultimately, as they find out, we are out of control and can only rely on each other.
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Great read. Total page turner, one to cost up with on a dark winters night. Definitely one that will be a movie in no time.
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This was such a great, atmospheric read. I spent a grey, dull rainy day doing nothing but reading this book and it was perfect! 

A family have rented a house for a week’s holiday but the owners turn up on the doorstep unannounced, looking to shelter there as a black out hits the east coast of America. 

And then the questions begin... what’s going on out there? Who has the right to be in the house? Are the people who they say they are? Will they survive? 

The build up of tension is so good. Rumaan Alum sets up the characters so efficiently that I found myself connected to them very quickly even though they’re not necessarily all likeable characters! The world is no different to the world we live in today which made it feel so eerie. 

It’s a claustrophobic, apocalyptic story that explores the themes of race, class and privilege through beautiful, eloquent prose. 

I loved the way it ended. No spoilers 😉

Thanks to netgalley and Bloomsbury publishing for my eARC.
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Amanda and Clay take their children to Long Island to stay in a luxurious house.  The first evening the original owners appear, having driven back from New York as there had been a serious power cut and they want to stay in the countryside where they felt safer.  The television and phone services are not working; clearly something is awry.

The book is very much in the genre of Stephen King; however the master would have written it much better.  In the first half of the book I felt the author was using a dictionary to use as many descriptive nouns and adjectives as possible.  The story did not flow.  It did pick up pace in the second half, but felt a little disjointed.  The author kept hinting at future events and what was happening, without actually explaining much at all.  

Some of the tricks the author used were quite clever, hinting and suggesting and leaving a lot to the reader's imagination, but this can also be very unsatisfactory in the final analysis unless it is done with great finesse.

Overall it was an interesting read, and could have been really very good, but the writing style, scenes and characters felt under-developed to me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book gives apocalyptic and end of the world vibes and is full of suspense. For example, things like animals behaving strangely giving the reader a forewarning of an imminent crises building this sense of dread throughout the whole book.  

It explores the complexities of parenthood, race and class and shows how unexpected bonds can show in a time of crises where you lose your ability to control situations around you. If you want to read a book that will keep you guessing, keep you on the edge of your seat and make you suspicious of even the nicest people this is perfect for you. I’d also say it’s a good autumnal and spooky season read.

The reason I’ve rated it down is because I wanted to know more at the end. Although this is also quite clever because the descriptions given to describe the outside situation give you space to imagine it for yourself which in turn probably makes it more personal and eerie because I’m sure it would be slightly different to us all! I loved the concept of this book and it being written now in the current climate makes the fiction seem almost real. Also, I think this is being made into a Netflix film/series!!!
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Amanda and Clay, a white middle aged couple, have booked a vacation away in an Airbnb with their teenage son and daughter in the middle of nowhere, which they are all mostly looking forward to. A day or two into their holiday, late at night there is a huge bang on the door. They are not expecting anyone. Cautiously, they answer the door to find the owners of their holiday house at the door in a panic. Mr and Mrs Washington, an older black couple. 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 another? 
I had no idea what to expect with this book. I haven’t read any of Rumaan’s work before but this has made me want to go back and read everything he has written. It was suspenseful and provocative, I just wanted to keep reading to find out what was going on. I didn't know who to trust or who I wanted to trust. It was brilliant!
I would’ve enjoyed the story more if the language and vocabulary wasn't as complex, I had to reread a few times, but it wasn't enough to stop me from enjoying the storyline. 
Leave The World Behind covers the complexities of parenthood, race, and class, it explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.
I felt the story was especially strong in the area of how he brought the story alive. In a third person view of what the characters are thinking and how they handle each situation they come across, it makes you feel for them even if you cannot trust them. I never knew what was going to happen and I actually preferred that and felt that it enhanced the tension and sucked you in for more, it definitely raised the suspense which was something you rarely see. The whole premise of the book had me captivated and wanting more. I was shocked by the ending but I felt that it couldn't have ended any other way. 
I’m really looking forward to the film that has been confirmed with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. I really hope they make the most of some suspenseful music! 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I wanted to like this book, I really did - and there were some parts that were really well done.

I have given it a 3 stars because it is not something I would pick up again and read and by the half way stage, I was contemplating it being a DNF. Honestly, by half way, nothing had really happened and I was wondering, from the Synopsis, where this would pick up. I did, however, persevere and it did pick up with a few bits of action/resolution in the back half of the book and as a result was much more enjoyable to finish.

I am a bit disappointed, I was excited to read this and found it just missed the mark.

What it did well was building atmosphere towards the end, tackling racial and class and tensions displaying the irrationality of individuals who are living through an event (of which some is evident in every day society right now).

I wanted more but I am glad I read it.
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‘Leave the World Behind’ is one of those books with enough literary street cred to avoid the damning label of science fiction, thereby assuring it gets shelved in the general section of book shops along with other works of artistic merit. That’s not really a gripe, just a statement of fact. Whereas the movie industry seems quite happy to admit that genre films can be worthy of praise and even awards, the world of publishing still has some way to go. 
But this is a science fiction novel. To say much more than that about the plot than that would give away too much, so you’ll have to take it from me. It starts as a comedy of manners, with a middle class white family surprised at the AirBnB rental by a black couple. It’s an encounter that’s beautifully handled, with the polite embarrassment of both groups palpable. There’s also a real tension at play, spawned by the fact that, as the reader, you don’t really know what’s going on. As the events of the book get more bizarre and unexplained, that becomes a familiar feeling.
For the first third, the book can feel a little overwritten. The minutiae of the characters lives and thoughts are laid out and it sometimes seems like that author has something to say about absolutely everything. I’m not sure if it’s that tendency lessens as the book progresses, or if I was just more willing to forgive it once the plot kicks in. Either way it ceased to bother after a while. That grumble aside, the book is very well written. The characters and situations are believable and the depiction of our reliance on our smartphones is pitch perfect. Only the absence of COVID prevents this from being the ultimate 2020 novel, but there is isolation, paranoia, and racial unease aplenty.
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I liked this book a lot, it was nearly a five star read for me. What made me drop a star is I felt the ending was abrupt and I wanted more resolution. This review is hard to write because I went into the story completely blind and I feel this is the best way to experience it. This book was a great blend of both character and plot driven.
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I'm afraid this is a book that definitely did not live up to the hype for me.

Leave The World Behind follows two families in the wake of some kind of distaster. The plot is left deliberately vague, offering only crumbs of information of what has actually occured.

I had so many issues with this novel. Firstly, it just didn't live up to its promise as a creepy, uncanny mystery/ thriller/ dystopia. Nothing happened, and when things finally do start to happen at the end, it ends. There is some social commentary in here, but it's delivered with either incredible subtlety or it's laid on thick, there is no in-between.

Secondly, and perhaps significantly, what I couldn't engage with was the writing. At times it's great, ocassionally it's brilliant, but for the most part it's painfully overwritten. The word choices are bizarre and obscure, and it feels pretentious. Not only that, there's a strange recurring theme of graphically describing characters' genitals for seemingly no reason, including the younger children.

I keep fluctuating between a one star and a two, so perhaps a 1.5. I enjoyed moments, but the read was in no way worth the pay off for me. A decent concept but, for me personally, not the satisfying execution I'd hoped for.
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Leave The World Behind is a strange and, at times, extremely creepy book, made all the more unsettling by the post-pandemic world we've all found ourselves in. I found myself wondering several times whether I would find it so resonant, so effective, were it not for having experience of living through, if not end times, then very strange times to say the least. There were moments that were particularly effective - the racial tension unspoken, but ever-so-present, when GH and Ruth first arrive at the family's vacation home was particularly well done. I felt that it could have gone a little further with both the sinister world-building and its critique of white middle class America.
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Believe all the hype about this book - it’s absolute perfection. 
Clay and Amanda and their children Archie and Rose are escaping the city for a week of relaxation in the middle of nowhere. So when a black couple claiming to be the owners of their rental come knocking on the door late at night asking to stay, they are wary - are G.H. and Ruth who they say they are? And are they telling the truth about strange events outside of the house? As the two families settle in together, they soon realise they have far more to worry about than their fears about each other...
Atmospheric and chilling doesn’t even begin to do this book justice - Alam is a genius. The way in which he manages to avoid telling the reader exactly what is happening outside the home, but leaves little breadcrumbs for you, allows you to imagine the absolute worst, and is far more frightening than if it was spelt out. The fear he manages to evoke with the use of a sound, or an unusual number of deer (explaining the cover!) is quite incredible because it feels all too possible and apocalyptic. 
Aside from the mystery and fear created in this story though, there are poignant observations of race, class, parenting and sexuality which make for a compelling dynamic of characters - Alam gets straight to the essence of unconscious bias in a way which leaves you feeling very uncomfortable. 
This book is shocking, terrifying and impossible to put down - one of the best I’ve read this year.
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Amanda and Clay feel like they’re the only ones around for miles. Together with their two children, they have ventured into the countryside, away from the city, for a quiet break spent reading, relaxing, and playing in the pool of their rental home in Long Island. Except they’re not alone, not on the night when an elderly couple knock on their door claiming to be the owners of the house needing to stay the night. They bring news that there has been a black out in New York City, but with no phone signal in this remote corner of the world, and the TV now down, it’s hard for Amanda and Clay to know how to react. Can they take this couple at their word? Just what is going on in the city?

I flew through this book, despite it being quick slow paced, especially the first half. We meet this family going on holiday, follow them as they go shopping, go to the beach, laze around the pool, and then suddenly I was at like 45% and nothing had happened. It’s not meant to be a fast paced book, it’s not action heavy or plot driven, it’s a quiet book and is more about the eerie feeling you get reading it, but it’s still a long time for nothing to happen in. The writing style is also very slow paced, not just the plot, and I found myself skipping huge chunks of text to get to the dialogue. I don’t like doing this, but I don’t need nearly a full page of every single thing they put in their trolley when shopping, it’s just boring and long and does absolutely nothing for the story or the atmosphere.

I also found the writing quite confusing, in that you would start a chapter focusing on one character, and although it’s told in third person, the focus would slide gradually so you were focusing on another character. This wasn’t an obvious switch, it was so subtle and I found myself getting confused about which character we were talking about.

As I said above, there is the suggestion of some catastrophic event happening, possibly in New York, possibly elsewhere, but New York and the immediate surrounding areas are affected. Whether other places are too is unknown. There is a noise, at a later point in the book, a godawful, painful, out of this world noise related to the unknown event, and you get a little explanation about what is happening at different moments with different people in different parts of the world… but…. is this a spoiler? I don’t think so, YOU DON’T GET ANY REAL ANSWER!!!

And this is my most infuriating thing I find in any book, when there is this big thing, this world changing event… and you don’t know what it is? Nothing explains the blackout, or the noise, or the effects seen on one of the characters and it was just such a disappointing end to the novel, with no wrap up, no satisfaction of actually following through what was quite frankly, a massive point in the blurb. And this is not on the author, but that was a pretty big reason why I picked the book up in the first place!

So… yeah. I was disappointed when I reached the end of this book and realised that that was in fact the end, but… I didn’t hate reading it up until that point. I was invested in the characters and the events of the novel, I just needed another hundred pages to wrap it all up.
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I think conceptually this book was interesting and intriguing but at time I found it very pedestrian in its pace. I am afraid that overall it failed to grip me. Somehow the characters did not appeal to me. I could not empathise with any individual. Maybe it will make a better film.
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I can’t decide if I loved the prose or hated it. I know I’ve rarely read a book and felt the need to look up the definition of so many of the words. The story is captivating and addictive. You just have to read to the end and whilst I won’t give any spoilers I must say I want a follow up. 
I’m not going the whole hog and giving it a five star because there were passages that had me thinking they could have been left out without losing anything but I do wish there were half stars as the novelty of this clever book deserves more that the four stars I’m giving it.
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I requested Leave the World Behind as the premise sounded so good.

However, I could not get past the prose style so gave up after a couple of chapters - which I very very rarely do.  

So I am unable to provide a true review of this novel. Although the fact that I couldn't get past the third chapter might give you a clue.
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Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.

Wow! This was a book that I started mid evening and didn’t stop till I finished it in the early hours of the morning.
What starts as a family holiday in a luxury but remote accommodation in Long Island turns into the most anxiety-ridden ‘What the hell is happening here?’ scenario.

The family only manage a couple of days of fun when late at night, the owners of the property turn up with a garbled explanation that ‘something bad’ is happening out there. The only news alert that is received is that there’s a black out on the East Coast. They still have power but no access to phones, the internet or the television.

A lot is made of just how reliant we are on our phones and the internet - without it, no one knows what is happening. Is it something with a ready explanation or something more sinister?

I don’t want to give anything away but I urge that you MUST read this book!
Un-put-downable is a bit of a book review cliche, but this book was so curious, well-paced, frightening and well written that there was no chance that I could put it down without finishing it. As it was, my head was buzzing afterwards for ages with what I had read - so maybe it would’ve been better to start it earlier in the day. I certainly couldn’t sleep for ages after finishing it.
* Thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for the ARC.
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A snapshot of inevitability, the writing style is unusual and captivating, I was entranced.
This touches on the darker side of human nature, the truths that we try to hide behind civilised behaviour.
One of the most chilling observations is a character who yearns for human interaction, forgetting how much he dislikes most human behaviour.
Exploring racial bias, parental duty, privilege, class and success, among other things; this book will definitely make you think. How would you behave in similar circumstances? And when push comes to shove, are you really a good person?
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