Book Review: Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Title: Leave The World Behind

Author: Rumaan Alam

Page Count: 240

Publication Date: 10/2020

Rating: 4/5 stars

Let me start by saying that I read a lot, but I do not review every book I read. Between a full-time job and side hustling my way into a copywriting career, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to write reviews.

However, this book has had a grip on my mind and heart ever since I turned the last page yesterday. I know it has something to do with the “uncertain times” we live with (who else is sick of that phrase) paired the dystopian themes I’ve had a *mild* obsession with since childhood.

Either way, I am so disturbed by this story and how it played out; I just need to talk about it, so I hopefully stop feeling so — unsettled, I guess.

****

“Leave the world behind…” says the Airbnb listing for the Long Island house Amanda and Clay book with their two teenage kids for a remote, relaxing trip away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. Never did they anticipate their vacation would turn into something that feels literally out of this world. A blackout has swept New York, prompting the owners, an elderly Black couple, to return to their LI home until it passes. Amanda and Clay make a choice — that isn’t really their choice — to allow them to stay in their home. Trust and safety are at the forefront of the polite interactions between the groups of strangers until they know what’s to come, making this a mild yet captivating thriller.

**** 

This book is a slow burn, but I love that it’s a quick read. It’s a lot of “things just happening” throughout the story, but once you get a sense of what’s going on (as the reader, you only know a little more than what the characters know, it pulls you in.

I also love the way Rumaan Alam describes things. It’s just so, regular how he describes the “ketchup everyone gets” when Amanda goes grocery shopping, the dependable brown napkins from Starbucks, the inevitable rainy day that comes with every vacation. It’s all just so good.

A lot of what I didn’t like about this book was also what I liked about it. The story’s slow-burn was annoying, but thankfully it got good before it got too frustrating. I love a fast-paced thriller but Leave The World Behind unfolded very slowly.

Sometimes, Alam went a bit overboard with his descriptive prose. And when a book is already a bit on the slower side, that adds to the frustration.

****

I think the reason why I can’t get this book off of my mind is because I’m so used to reading doomsday books that focus on the aftermath (think Hunger Games) while seeing it from the perspective of the beginning is just straight up scary. Especially since it’s going down during one of the most typical activities a family could do together.

Overall, Leave The World Behind is a thrilling read that sneaks up on you. If you’ve started it and have a hard time getting through it, stick it out. It’s totally worth it.

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