Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I watched a few episodes of The Leftovers on HBO and decided to put off reading the books for my Summer Challenge because I just had to read The Leftovers book.

It was a mostly a waste of time. It was one of the worst books I have ever read.

Explaining the premise is rather difficult for this book so I will share the blurb from Amazon:

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? 

That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children. 

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

Fascinating idea right? Unfortunately Perrotta's execution was terrible. He focuses so much on the individual lives and grieving that the victims could have died in a bus accident and the story would not have changed.

He does briefly describe how the county freaked out after the Sudden Departure. There were car crashes, traumatized witnesses, and the market crashed. But is any of this exciting action included? It's touched on in very subtle ways. It's told as a flashback because the novel starts three years after the Sudden Departure. Perrotta completely skips what would have been the most exciting part of the story.

Now I will say I did not expect an explanation of what the Sudden Departure actually was or why it happened. (As a fan of Stephen King I'm used to dealing with no explanation of supernatural events.) I just wish Perrotta had pulled back and told more of the world's story rather than just the handful of people in the small town.

What kept me reading were the storylines about the two different cults. I did enjoy the parts about the Guilty Remnant and followers of Holy Wayne. Although I found what Meg did at the end of the story completely and utterly impossible to believe. It does make me want to seek out more books about cults.

The main storyline about Kevin and his daughter was completely boring and seemed to have very little to actually do with the Sudden Departure. Which is pretty sad considering Kevin was supposed to be the main character.

The worst part about the book was the open ending. There basically isn't an ending. Perrotta seems to rush his attempt to tie up the loose ends of the story threads and in doing so makes the non-ending hard to even believe. The characters resolve their problems by acting completely out of character. The way the books ends, you find yourself flipping to the last blank page wondering where the rest of the book is at. It ends as if there was going to be a sequel.

This book had the potential to be mindblowing. Instead it's a complete fail. My rating Photobucket