The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

March 16, 2015 Contemporary Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 23

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s Monday again, and it seems like the best possible day of the week to discuss The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. It’s not exactly a happy-go-lucky book and Monday is basically the opposite of a happy-go-lucky day, so it makes sense. What makes less sense is taking The Leftovers on vacation as a poolside read, but I’ve never been one to make perfect decisions.

theleftoversThe Leftovers takes place 3 years after the Rapture. Or what some people assume to have been the Rapture. Basically, millions of people just vanished into thin air with absolutely no scientific explanation. Friends, family members, neighbors, strangers, enemies, your weird checkout clerk from the supermarket just POOF. Gone. Because humanity is extraordinarily bad at dealing with this sort of uncertainty, a lot of weird reactionary crap starts to happen. The people who disappeared seemingly had no connection. They were just PEOPLE- good, bad, religious, atheist, kind, rude- whatever. The fact that it was clearly not *just* the righteous and that so many apparently God-fearing folk were left behind threw a major wrench into the traditional religious communities. A whole new crop of religions cropped up, mostly of the cult-ish variety. The Garvey family of Mapleton has imploded in the aftermath of the Sudden Departure despite all members remaining on their current astral plane, and through them we’re able to view all sorts of aspects of this strange new world.

I found the premise of The Leftovers utterly fascinating. I’ve often wondered about how thin the fabric of society is and just what it would take for things to unravel. I mean, say aliens landed tomorrow just to say “hey.” How would the world’s major religions handle the certain knowledge that humanity was not alone in the universe? Talk about your major upheaval, right? The concept of the book was so appealing that I think I expected too much out of it. I was frustrated at what I felt was a lack of resolution and complete lack of explanation as to what actually happened. I’m sure those were intentional artistic choices, but dangit, I like having answers and it drove me a little batty! Still, I think The Leftovers is definitely worth a read.

Talk to me Bookworms! What do YOU think would happen if millions of people suddenly and mysteriously disappeared? (I’d blame the aliens, but that’s just me…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’m going to invest in aluminum foil to make myself a jaunty anti-alien hat.*

23 Responses to “The Leftovers by Tom Perotta”

  1. Shannon @ River City Reading

    So, I’m a bad, bad reader and I’m watching the TV show without having read the book. I hated it at first, but it grew on me and I’m totally intrigued. I can already tell it’s one that won’t leave me with a clear answer, though, so it sounds like it’s staying pretty close to the source 😉

    • Words For Worms

      I watched the first couple of episodes before deciding to read the book. Hubs put it on (and later decided it was too depressing.) Judging Amy was in a cult and smoking like a chimney. No way was I not picking up this book!

  2. Jancee @ Jancee Reads

    Sounds really intriguing! I mean, my mind would probably jump to the Rapture if everyone disappeared, but at the same time, I think I would shift into survival mode, assuming that the world will go crazy. At the same time, I would probably be a little gleeful at the idea that there are less people around to compete against for said survival – am I a terrible person?

    • Words For Worms

      I think that’s what people had such a hard time with- The Rapture is the only explanation for something like that, but the people that were taken weren’t necessarily righteous. Then the folks who’d tried super hard to be good felt awful at not being taken. Craziness. And no, you’re not terrible. I’m not a fan of crowds, mobs, or chaos either :).

  3. Rhian

    You might enjoy Vanishing Point by Michaela Roessner which is set 30 years after 90% of the population disappears overnight. Assuming you can find it as it’s twenty years old (!).

  4. Jennine G.

    I’d lock my family and me in the house with furniture against the doors and wood on the windows and sit tight for as long as possible. Let the crazies get it out of their system first.

  5. Charleen

    I didn’t care for this one. I know that’s mostly because my expectations were way off. So maybe if I’d had a more realistic idea of what the book was going in, I would have enjoyed it more. On the other hand, if I’d known what I was getting, I might not have picked it up in the first place.

    It was just a little hum-drum for me, despite this huge thing sort of lurking in the background. I wanted more big-picture stuff, less people-living-their-lives stuff.

    • Words For Worms

      YES! I wanted big picture, at least a little glimpse of it. I mean, I liked all the cult stuff, that was interesting, but I wanted more discussion of the elephant in the room.

  6. Dana

    “I was frustrated at what I felt was a lack of resolution and complete lack of explanation as to what actually happened.”

    This was exactly my problem with the HBO show based on this book. There was just enough interesting threads to keep me coming back, but overall I was disappointed with all of my unanswered questions.

    Kinda sorta related, and I’m sorry to derail ANOTHER comment section with Outlander chatter, BUT…..I sat down over the weekend and watched the season 1A episodes and I loved loved LOVED it! Everything I disliked about the book was handled beautifully in the television translation.

      • Dana

        I’m almost excited to read Book 2!

        Not really. Not at all. But I will read it now, which was probably not going to happen before. Now I want to read it so I can compare it to season 2.

  7. Megan M.

    No answers? Lame. I think if people disappeared en masse, the Rapture would be the most common assumption, and whoever was still left would be assumed to be a bad person or something. It would probably turn ugly for a lot of people.

    • Words For Worms

      That is exactly what happened, especially like the ministers and stuff who were still around. Can you imagine? Talk about your existential crisis!

  8. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    The premise of this book sounds interesting and the cover is pretty cool too! I don’t think I’m willing to start reading a series without answers though. I like a clear resolution most of the time 🙂

    • Words For Worms

      I don’t think it’s a series… at least, it isn’t to my knowledge. There is a TV show, but I’m not sure if that was just a miniseries or if they’re going to drag it out? Hmmm… I should look that up.

  9. Jenny @ Reading the End

    You aren’t the first person I’ve heard say that the book didn’t live up to its premise. Apparently it was even more true in the case of the TV series. It’s too bad cause the premise is KILLER. (Makes me want to write my own version of the same story. But have it be more awesome. With like definitely plenty of guitar solos.)

  10. Andi

    Perrotta’s books always sound so good to me, and I always end up not picking them up. I’ve heard such a mixed bag of things about this book, I think I might start with The Abstinence Teacher instead.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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