Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I'm not ashamed to admit that this novel only ended up on my radar because of the new HBO show that is [very, very loosely] based on it...but this is one of those times that I actually wished I hadn't given in to the temptation.

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Now, I'm not saying that this is exactly a case of the movie/show being outright better than the book. While it's happened, with The Leftovers I think it's that neither one is very good, but only the TV show has more time to convince me that it can be better.

The main problem with this novel is that I didn't care about any of the main/POV characters. Every one of them was either boring, maddening, or both - and any growth and/or change that could have helped them seem more sympathetic simply never happens. Two characters in particular who are maddening from beginning to end are Tom Garvey and Nora Durst; the former due to his obsession with the shallow, boring Christine, and the latter because we're apparently supposed to believe that her dying her hair is a life-changing moment.

I will admit that part of me was hoping Perrotta would give some information about why his version of the Rapture happened, though I wasn't surprised or even overly disappointed that he didn't do so. The problem really isn't that he doesn't reveal the reasoning behind it (or really, anything about it at all) - it's that nothing really happens. At all. There is no climax, there is no character development, and there's really not much story development.

That said, this was a quick and easy read. Overall it wasn't boring while I was reading it, but simply so disappointing at the end that I wish I hadn't bothered (if any of that makes sense)...and at the very least it did make me appreciate the TV show a bit more. 1.5/5 stars.




"They both seemed to understand that describing it was beyond their powers, the gratitude that spreads through your body when a burden gets lifted, and the sense of homecoming that follows, when you suddenly remember what it feels like to be yourself."

"'You had everything, you know...And I couldn't even make him forget you when he was in my bed."

"...it was better to leave well enough alone, to avoid unnecessary encounters with the people you'd left behind, to not keep poking at that sore tooth with the tip of your tongue. Not because you didn't love them anymore, but because you did, and because that love was useless now, just another dull ache in your phantom limb."

"The weird letdown of a new house, that nagging sense of dislocation that feels like it'll never go away. But at least you knew in your gut that something momentous had happened, that one chapter in your life had ended and another had begun.
A year, she used to say. It takes a year to really feel at home. And sometimes longer than that."

"'In his heart of hearts, Jack London knew that we can never build a fire. Not when we really need to.'"

"An odd sense of melancholy took hold of her - it was the same feeling she got walking past her old ballet school, or the soccer fields at Greenway Park - as if the world were a museum of memories, a collection of places she'd outgrown."

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