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Book Review: Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Title: Leave The World Behind
Author: Rumaan Alam
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Suspense
Price: Rs. 569 on Audible
Listening Time: 7 hours and 25 minutes
Narrator: Marin Ireland

It has been a while since I reviewed a book that I did not enjoy. I usually prefer to talk about a book that I loved, so that it becomes a recommendation for my readers. Occasionally, I also review books that I did not like at all with the hope of saving the time and effort of others by telling them to not pick it up. Funnily enough, this books doesn't fall on either end of the spectrum. In fact, this book doesn't belong on the spectrum at all. 'Weird' is a word that I do not like to use often, but if you ask me to describe this book in one word, it would be that.

I came across this book when a number of book clubs and famous bookstagrammers voted this book as the best book of 2020. The reviews were calling it the best thriller ever and the writing style was claimed to be brilliant. Curious about it, I decided to listen to it on Audible. At just under an eight hour listen, this is a pretty quick read/listen, but is it worth it?

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island for their vacation with their son and daughter. They have rented a luxurious home on AirBnb and are looking forward for some good family time. That night, there is a knock on their door. No one knows that they are here, who could it be? Turns out, it is the owners of the house, G.H and Ruth Washington who have been stranded due to a blackout in the city. And wait, they are black! Can black people be rich enough to own a luxurious home? In spite of this very obvious doubt, Amanda and Clay have no option but to let them in. Are they who they say they are?

Well, that's the book! It is all about a couple and a family living in a remote home with nothing else but each other for company. They don't trust each other. The whites can believe that the blacks could be so rich. The blacks on the other hand don't like what the whites have done to their house. Amidst all this, weird things are happening outside. A loud noise is heard and no one knows what it is. Is it a cloud burst? Is it a nuclear reactor? Is it a bomb? After a point no one cares.

Image Source - Text Is Mine

This book had all the ingredients to be a kick-ass thriller had it been handled right. Instead, it goes the most weird way possible. I know I'm using 'weird' a lot, but that is exactly what I feel about this book. A loud noise, a lone woman in the woods, a million trips to the grocery store, characters vomiting for no reason, teeth falling out for no reason again and brace yourselves for this, a flamboyance of flamingoes stopping by the pool of the house. Yes, flamingos. Those very gorgeous pink birds, stopping by the pool of a house situated in the middle of the woods, with absolutely no relevance to the story! None whatsoever.

This book has one of the worst character graphs ever! They are fickle, they are shallow and have no development at all. I am all for unreliable characters, but not the ones that are wrong from the word go! Amanda and Clay have a weird relationship and their own set of insecurities. The children meanwhile go exploring and missing half the time. G. H Washington is actually George Washington and there is an entire chapter on this in the name of humor. However, the worst part of the book, is the sexual metaphors used. There is too much unappealing sex and I didn't know that the human genitalia could be described in so many ways. That of the couple and that of the children too. Some of it were almost puke inducing. The ending was the worst ever! I still don't know what it was supposed to mean.

I've always maintained that there are no bad books. There are books you relate to and there are books your don't. There are books you understand and then there are books you don't. More often than not, we don't like the things we don't understand. Well, I did not understand this one at all. While the story began brilliantly, its middle or ending made no sense. Leaning towards the dystopian format in the guise of a thriller, it fails on both accounts.

Verdict: If weirdness tickles your mojo, go for it. Else, steer clear.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. I'm being generous.


  1. Weird says sooo much actually!!!!! I heard so much about this book on Goodreads and on Forums. I am still confused though- curious to try it out as well...

  2. I have heard such contrasting reviews of this book. Some love it and some don't. Honestly, this has increased my curiosity.

    1. If you read it, let me know what you thought of it.

  3. I hate it when a great book idea comes to nought. What's worse is when other readers give it a thumbs up and you wonder why you couldn't like it, what was it that you missed. Anyway, I have too long a TBR to even try this one.

    1. Tell me about it! Leave this book behind, Tulika. That's the best.


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