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.
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I found The Leftovers on a book shopping trip over a year ago and filed it away in my brain under books-to-maybe-pick-up-at-some-point. I mostly forgot about it, but I am reminded every time I see the TV show mentioned somewhere that, oh yeah, I quite fancied reading that. Then I saw it on sale in the Kindle store and snapped it up.
I really, really liked this and I’m not sure I can explain why. The premise sucked me in – who isn’t intrigued by the idea of people disappearing randomly? – but I stayed for the characters. Nothing much really happens, but the viewpoints change regularly and there is a murder/creepy cult/saviour of mankind thrown in every now and then to keep things interesting. It’s all about how the people who are left after the Rapture/Sudden Disappearance get on with their lives, and how even though everything changes, everything kind of stays the same, too.
It’s kind of dystopian speculative sci fi. Or something. It reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand in a lot of ways (minus the horror and epic road trip to Colorado) – the casual writing, the way the characters interact, the small town focus. All good things in my opinion. And for all not a lot happened plot wise, I found myself surprised by the turns the story took. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and I want other people to read it. A great start to my 2016 reading year.