Cover Image: Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind

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Member Reviews

Unfortunately this one just didn't work for me. I loved the premise which is why I requested it, and I will say that the atmosphere throughout the entire book is fantastic, and Leave the World Behind is one of those books that blurs genre lines in the best way possible. Not only that but it tackles a lot of deep themes, and tackles them well, and it makes for a thought provoking and uncomfortable read, again building that atmosphere. It was the writing that lost me, as the prose for the most part felt overdone, as though the author was trying to push too hard rather than letting it flow, and it made it hard for me to be swept away by the good parts of the book. I can certainly understand why people will love this book, it just wasn't for me.
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Leave the World Behind is a tense, riveting and claustrophobic exploration of privilege, race, class, fate, family, hatred and division and one of the starkest and most terrifyingly prescient stories I have read over the past few years. It's a deceptively simple tale but one that certainly succeeds at putting you on edge and getting both under your skin and into your psyche. It soon reveals its multilayered nature where, like a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls, each layer removed reveals another below. Refreshingly original and written in wonderfully descriptive, lyrical prose, this is a modern, creepily disquieting tour de force which is deserving of the hype and immense critical acclaim it has received and a novel very much reflective of our time.
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Leave the World Behind is an unputdownable novel set during an apocalyptic time that explores race, privilege, and family. Poised to be released as a Netflix film starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts, the concept is very fascinating. Imagine you go on a holiday using Air BnB and get to stay at a posh place with no wi-fi and tv - a real chance to unplug! Only, the couple who owns the place shows up knocking in a panic. The world is in a major blackout. This is their home, so they want in since they didn’t know where else to go. There is no way of confirming what the owners are telling you. Why is the world falling apart? Is it true? The claustrophobic atmosphere is outstanding. Highly recommended! Be sure to check out the novel before the movie comes out on Netflix!
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The description for Leave the World Behind implies a psychological thriller challenging perceptions about prejudice, social manners and safety. A white family holidaying in a luxury house in the Hamptons are disturbed by a black couple who claim to be the owners of the house and want to come in and stay to wait out the effects of a blackout in New York. Actually the tension comes from the blackout itself, as the event and it’s consequences are referred to in a vague, increasingly devastating way. An intriguing, at times disturbing, examination of our dependence on technology in modern life and the need for information in times of crisis, this will appeal to those who enjoyed Station Eleven.
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This book. I'm on the fence. I liked it and didn't  at the same time. Marmite if you will. The premise was interesting - a white family rent a house in the Hamptons for a holiday only to find that the black owners of the house come back and want to seek shelter as the world around them....well...just think a bit of Covid so this bit isn't as far fetched as it first appears.

I just found it the literary equivalent of someone holding up a banner with 'worthy subject within' on it. I mean it was very interesting to discuss race and racism issues in this way, have a sci-fi feel to it all (although not so much in this Covid world) and I was freaked out with the chilling aspect to it all but the writing style was jarred and uncomfortable for me. Far too over-written and just very bizarre ways of expressing relatively simple ideas. I love words but not this many when there's not needed. After all that, I'm not entirely sure there was an ending? This could be me, so take that with pinch of salt.

An interesting premise but it didn't work for me
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This is an extremely engrossing story about a family vacation gone awry. with potentially devastating consequences  A very quick read that I finished in less than a day, mostly because  I couldn't wait to see how it would end.  A really good read with some genuine tension and very well drawn characters.
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Leave The World Behind is a quite brilliant novel about a catastrophic event raising issues on race, family and class.

The story begins with a well off white middle class family enjoying a holiday in rented luxurious accommodation. Clay and Amanda and their children enjoy the luxuries the house has to offer and the tranquility of the countryside. This holiday bliss is upset when the owners turn up at the property, GW and Ruth a wealthy black couple. They ask to stay at their property as their is a blackout in the city. The tension builds as Amanda and Clay question wether GW and Ruth really own this property? Is their really a disaster unfolding in the world. With all methods of communication disrupted the story is dark and  claustrophobic. 

The writing is superb and as the tension mounts I couldn’t put the book down I found the novel a real page turner.
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Absolutely unlike anything I have ever read or experienced and completely brilliant. It reminded both of Jordan Peele movies, menace and dread in a domestic setting, and also of Laura Lippman or Anne Tyler with their eye for human behaviour and morivations. Absolutely unforgettable genre defying fiction.
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Wow. What a book. What a read.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam is an extraordinary book ostensibly about an unknown, catastrophic event but is also an examination of race, class and family.

Amanda and Clay have travelled to the Hamptons with their teenage children Archie and Rose for a vacation at a secluded and remote house. They’re renting it for a week and it appeals precisely because of it’s remoteness. There isn’t a mobile phone signal nor is there any internet. They’re completely disconnected.

They relax. Amanda visits the local supermarket and spends a couple of hundred Dollars on food and wine, the children swim in the pool and the adults fall in love with the house. It’s high spec, beautifully finished and well appointed. They eat, they drink, they sit in the hot tub. They visit the beach, the children become sunburned and exhausted from playing in the sea. They return to the house and eat pasta. They enjoy each other’s company whilst trying surreptitiously to get an internet signal.

Then, late on their second night at the house, an older black couple appear at the door. Their names are Ruth and G.H. Washington and they say they’re the owners of the house. There’s been a power cut in New York, something Very Bad is happening, and so they’ve come to the place they feel safest. Suddenly Amanda and Clay’s relaxing holiday is anything but. There are interlopers who are intruding upon their peace. But, are they actually the interlopers? After all, the house is owned by this couple standing in the living room casting an eye over the disarray left by the teenagers and their parents.

An omnipresent narrator tells us what is happening in the house and what is happening beyond, but not the full story. We have to fill in the gaps and allow our imaginations to do the work. I kept asking myself if things were as bad as they seemed. Were the Washingtons overreacting? After all, there is still power at the beautiful, remote house but the TV isn’t working and neither is the radio.

It is raw, uncompromising and uncomfortable, especially when it comes to systematic racism. Amanda and Clay are a liberal white couple who wouldn’t describe themselves as racist, and yet when faced with a black couple at the door they feel fearful. When they discover that the Washingtons own the house Amanda is surprised because, “this didn’t seem to her like the sort of a house where black people lived.”

Thrown together, these four adults must find an equilibrium amongst the jostling for power, and yet, there is something awful happening outside. The writing is pin sharp. The moments leading up to the Washingtons appearing at the door sent chills up my spine and raised the hair on the back of my neck. In fact the whole book sent chills up my spine. Small morsels of horror are dropped into the narrative so casually that I had to go back and re-read and slowly, slowly I understood.

Clearly reading this during a global pandemic added to the feeling of mounting horror and anxiety. I think there were emotions that I was already feeling which were heightened and I perhaps understood more of the terror than I would’ve done in normal circumstances. That’s not to take anything away from the writing which is intelligent and elegant. The slow beginning is misleading, designed to ease the reader in gently to the intricacies and minutiae of family before it is abruptly disrupted.

I read it in two breathless sittings, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. It was right up my street; lots of questions, some answers and an altered world. It’s going to be huge (Julia Roberts has optioned it and she will star in it with Denzel Washington), so get ahead of the curve.
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A MUST READ!!!!!
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Prepare to be freaked out, especially if you read this during 2020 when everything seems to be imploding. This book follows 2 families as they end up thrust together in a world that seems to be ending. Amanda, Clay and their children go on a vacation in an AirBnb when a knock at the door interrupts their family time. The knock is coming from the supposed owners of the house as they were unsure where to go when a power outage hits the East Coast and they are unable to get to their apartment, hesitant but without wifi and tv the couple can't check this and don't seem to have any other option? But what is causing this blackout? What is happening? Do they indeed own the house like they say?
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This book deals with race, family dynamics, and will I believe lead to bigger discussions for anybody who reads this. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the ARC!!
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This is one of those weird books for me. The story idea is a 5. The writing is a 5. The content of the writing is, at most, a 2. The characters are a 1, bordering on zero. I wanted to love this, I really did. I'm feeling sorry for myself about it. I'm not sorry for "Leave the World Behind", however, as I'm sure many readers will thoroughly enjoy it and give it top marks. 

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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What can I say.....Loved it! The only reason I didn't give it five stars was because I was left wanting more, I need to read on! I wanted 300/400/500 more pages!

This book left me feeling weird but in a good way, a must read for the modern age of being addicted to technology. I loved how the story unfolds between all the characters thoughts and actions intermingled and little snippets of what is happening around the country without the books characters being any the wiser. I felt chilled. A fantastic claustrophobic apocalyptic read.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and publishers for the chance to read and review this book!
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I started this book this evening as I put my daughter to bed (I often read as I wait for her to fall asleep), well, it is now 1.15 am and I have just finished the book, sitting in a bath that went cold whilst I was reading it. Leave The World Behind is that sort of book; you simply have to keep reading.
The book is set in Long Island a typical family from Brooklyn have taken a holiday home and they are just starting to enjoy themselves and settle in when the owners return with news that the power has gone out in New York city.
This book is an examination of race and privilege set against a backdrop of a collapsing civilisation, so kind of like switching on the news...yeah, reading this book at this moment in time is pretty uncomfortable and pretty frightening - at points I could feel my heart pumping with adrenaline! 
I enjoyed the prose too. It feel quite tongue in cheek, particularly as the book opens, there is something very evocative about the language, the heat, the sexiness, the freedom, how seriously these people take themselves and their little luxuries, but then, when things kick off, that continues, which feels quite odd, tonally- but I enjoyed it- it's different.
I was a little disappointed with the ending as I didn't feel as though there was much of a takeaway other than the idea we are all doomed and that we probably deserve it. That said, it was a thrilling ride of a read that provided me with a great evenings entertainment- now for a few mugs of chamomile tea to try and calm down!
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This was such a good read! The intrigue and brewing distrust between the protagonists. I loved the post apocalyptic back drop and the familiarity it held to real life. Intense but a slow burn. Definitely worth a read and I cannot wait for the Netflix adaptation!
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Leave The World Behind is a gentle social satire about an unnamed disaster that ends up affecting two well off New York families in the back end of the Hamptons. The satire is so gentle as to be almost non-existent in places, the book flits through the brains of its six protagonists, displaying their hopes, fears and prejudices, but never really wants to damn any of them. It is a middle class portrait perhaps of decadence, it clearly takes place int he time of Trump *he is not mentioned direct by the 45th President and Mike Pence are). Its short, snappily, very well written but felt rather inconsequential to me - which I understand is part of the point. 

A classic white New York upwardly mobile nuclear family have hired an Airbnb house out in the Hamptons, We observe their quotidian day to day niggles - they aren't particularly nice to each other but it feels very much like a family with tween and teen kids. Then in the night the black middle class couple that own the Airbnb turn up out of nowhere, asking to stay due to a massive power cur in New York. There has been a disaster, but what it is and what it means is unclear. The problem is that the book isn't interested in the disaster, it isn't really interested in the dynamic once it settles down. Perhaps it wants to show that everything will be alright, or that we fall apart (mildly weird things happen which are all in the provenance of things that can happen). But often it just seems content in delving into the characters brains for petty thought, and panic, all quite realistic but ho hum. It the kind of book that sets up a racial dynamic and then deflates it by referring to Six Degrees Of Separation, rather than doing anything with it. It lives in a litfic world, whilst dipping its toes into a genre sandpit.

Apparently it has been optioned for a film, with stars attached. I can see why, the inner motivations of these characters are laid bare for the actors. But it will be interesting to see how a film deals with this material. People stranded in a house, with strangers turning up at night? As it stands its a horror movie but even the low levels of psychological disquiet the book plays with never feels more than sitcom level. I burnt through it in one sitting, savouring the tension for the first two thirds until I realised nothing would be done with it. That's fine for effect, but the effect here is inconsequential and the close leaves you with little more then "People - huh - they'd be a bit rubbish in a crisis"

[NetGalley ARC]
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An extraordinarily timely book for these troubled times, Rumaan Alum’s Leave the World Behind is a taut, off-centre look at what might be the end of civilisation as we know it. Focusing on a family Airbnb-ing in Long Island in who experience a loss of internet and any contact with the outside world. Except, that is, for the owners of the house who turn up on the doorstep, unable to return to the city. Alum shows us how reliant we are on everything working smoothly (the supply of information, food, power, water and all the infrastructure we have come to expect), while also looking at the dynamics of family and our interaction with strangers. The tension between the holiday in the perfectly equipped house, the encroachment of nature on this not-so-wild place and the glimpses Alum gives us of terrible things happening elsewhere, is almost unbearable.  Highly recommended.
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I think this will be book to divide readers.  Why? I’ll get to that in to that shortly but the premise of the book is good, a family go to a swanky Air BnB in a remote part of Long Island to leave NYC behind and spend some quality relaxation time.  Their peaceful stay is interrupted when the owners of the property turn up late one night and reveal to them that all is not ok back in the city.

So that description definitely got my attention.  Our family of four is Amanda, her husband Clay and teens Rose and Archie, they are white and I would say upper middle class.  The adults have good jobs and the teens are typically addicted to the internet.  The vacation is quality time, the house is something else, immaculate with a pool and a hot tub with no one around for miles.  They spend their days eating, drinking, reading and swimming, its bliss until their peace is shattered.  

They find an older couple on their doorstep asking to come in, the couple are black and not very well dressed, Amanda and Clay needless to say are not happy about letting them in but the couple reveal they are the owners and after some convincing are invited in.  Ruth and G.W are a lovely older couple but they still have a time of it convincing the others that they aren’t going to be murdered in their beds.  They have left NYC in a hurry, the city has suffered a major power outage and they wanted to come to Long Island where they hoped they would be safe.  Needing proof of this event Amanda tries to go online to find out and discovers the internet is down, as is the telephone and TV, what is going on out there, if anything at all?  Should they be worried?

I really wanted to love this story however there was definitely some things that just weren’t for me. It could be really over descriptive, think using fifty words instead of five, now I don’t mind that in small doses but it was all the way through.  Amanda went shopping near the start of the book and a couple of pages were devoted to her many many items.  Bodily functions are also very well described.

The book feels a little incomplete, the ending I felt left me with a lot of questions.  Whilst I was reading I did think that it would be better as film or series instead of a book and I see that Netflix has picked it up with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts starring in it and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it on screen.  Amanda was not a very likeable character and It’ll be interesting to see Julia’s take on that.

I did love the setting, an exquisite house standing within a forest, no one around, the best kind of setting for something going down.  An interesting read but didn’t quite hit the mark for me but I know others love it and you may too.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I almost gave up on this, the first 10% just did nothing for me then all of a sudden it became really compelling. 

I love the concept of this book and how as the reader I knew a tiny bit more than the characters but still not enough to really understand what was happening or why. 

I think the enclosed nature of the setting forces a tightness to the narrative and the language that really works to the books advantage. 

Although every character was properly drawn with distinctive voices and interesting interactions, I didn't really like any of them so emotionally I felt really detached from their plight. 

Overall an enjoyable read but I think the start will put people off.
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A potentially interesting scenario here, though one rather overplayed and everywhere due to Covid, but the writing had me grating my teeth right from the start: 'they huddled and inspected like Caravaggio's Thomas and friends', 'his penis jerked itself towards the sun, a yoga salutation, bouncing, then stiff at the house's allure' - the prose is constantly over-written with a 'why use one word when you could use fifty?' attitude. 

The narrative stance is like a third-person stream of consciousness, jumping in and out of people's heads and full of observations that are both unnecessary and articulated in try-hard style ('the phones worked on them like those bulbous flutes did on cobras', 'Rose was particularly susceptible to the tart charms of vinegar potato chips'). 

The tone of the writing feels like a jaunty comedy but possibly scary things happen (we don't quite know what has happened - or even whether something has) so the style and content feel like a surreal mismatch - where other reviewers have seen tension, I saw a screenplay with a sort of 'other people are hell' vibe.  Everything about this book failed to work for me - and that yoga-practicing penis is my main takeaway!
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This is definitely one of those books that will either be loved or hated - and I'm on the I-loved-it side.  

However, I don't feel the blurb for the book is accurate, as it implies a horror/thriller/home invasion plot where we're unsure whether the renters or owners are evil.  Instead, this is more of a slow-burning, apocalyptic, end-of-the-world, literary fiction book.  

A creeping sense of dread suffuses the novel, which is beautifully written in a way that calls to mind Lionel Shriver and A. M. Homes. Yes the writing meanders, but it's supposed to, and yes it's all rather ambiguous, but that's what the reality of the situation would be.  

As such, I'm not convinced how this will translate to the forthcoming Netflix series, as most of the joy of the book is the writing rather than the plot.  Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable read and particularly suited to readers who enjoyed Station Eleven, or Attwood's Maddadam trilogy.
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