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3.7 out of 5 stars67
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 May 2013
This is the second book I have read by this author, the first being The Wishbones, which I really enjoyed, and I have to say this is one of those reads that really will stay in your mind for a long time to come and really set you thinking about what is important in life.

The story is set in small town America after a "Rapture" type event. Millions of people have literally simultaneously and instantaneously disappeared and nobody knows why or, just as importantly, why they themselves were not "taken". We follow the lives of those left behind as they struggle to come to terms with what has happened and to try and rebuild their lives with some semblance of normalcy. Over time, this is easier for some than others and we see how the country, as a whole, adapts to life after the event. There are a lot of cult type movements springing up as people start to think "this is only a temporary reprieve and something else is going to happen soon" and start to flock to them.

There are a number of characters to follow, mainly Kevin Garvey and his family; all of whom are responding in different, yet understandable ways to events. The point of view alternates between each character, all of whom are strong, well crafted and believable, as is the dialogue and narrative. As the story unfolds you really get a sense of unease, as if you too are waiting for the next big event.

It is a very well written, readable book; I was very quickly hooked and just had to know what was going to happen next. The different strands of the plot are drawn together at the end in a satisfying manner, if a little abrupt. As I turned the Kindle off after reaching the end, I still had that vague little sense of unease bugging me, as if something was about to happen.
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on 3 September 2011
This book has a strange range of both writing style and plot line. There is an interesting quirkiness and humor in the beginning which disappears as rapidly as the people who have disappeared in the story line. One of the main characters, Laurie is introduced as one who didn't believe in much of anything and then,
"God's intrusion into her life couldn't have been any clearer if He'd addressed her from a burning azalea."
Perrotta does a good job in showing the apathy and malaise of those that are left after millions on earth have suddenly vanished. The earth and society just seems to continue otherwise and we are told non believers and `bad' people were among the vanished so the question arises for everyone, Is this the Rapture?

This is a story of a very few people in the town of Mapleton, one family in particular and how they seem to fall emotionally apart. There are no electrical shortages, cell phones still work as does the internet, and TV shows, society is the same except no one seems to feel they have a future and then of course there are the prophets and new religious movements to contend with. Schools close for awhile, but then open and life ....sort of goes on. The agony of not having the ones you care about near you and others do is well described. What becomes fascinating are how the characters are trying to order their lives. It is an emotional meltdown done in a realistic manner, in what would probably occur if this event was to happen; but it does start to drag and there really seems little depth in the characters despite their psychological agonizing.

There are places where we are left wondering...because there is no real mention of the rest of the world, although it too has been affected. There are places where the writing jumps in time and remembrance, back and forth and not until you continue reading is it sorted out

If you are a fan of apocalyptic novels, this might appeal, however it does not have the normal "excitement' of that genre. In some ways this novel is mundane and others, not - it delves into a few humans' psyche, but they seem to suffer as if they were they only ones affected, there seems to be more embarrassment at being, for example the woman whose husband and two children disappear, not because of any religious beliefs...people stare and feel sorry for her, so she is uncomfortable. One starts to lose sympathy for these people even in such a horrendous situation. There is a depth lacking that should have come with this type of storyline.
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on 18 August 2014
Good book. A little heavy on exposition and inner explanations, but I found it thoughtful, warm and tackling its issues (those of loss, survivors guilt, death, depression and how you find joy/life on the other end) in a smart and interesting way. Perrotta's language is good, smooth and flows from the pages.
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There seem to be a number of series being made and coming out now that are based on books, and are sci-fi type stories, which I love if they’re well written/made. Seeing that this book is being made into a series, I thought I would read it to see how it played out.

The Leftovers are those who are left behind when suddenly one day, all over the world, millions of people vanish. Is it The Rapture? Christians would like to believe so, but the difficulty is that all sorts of people vanished – Jews, Buddhists, wicked people, children too young to have an appreciation of any kind of religion. What could it all mean?

In this book the narrative follows some of those left behind in the small town of Mapleton, and the impact that the Sudden Departure has on them. Primarily, the action centres around narratives on the Mayor Kevin Garvey, his wife Laurie, and their daughter Jill and son Tom, all of whom have different life revelations because of the Sudden Departure. Other characters in the town make up the rest of the cast, including members of the Guilty Remnant group, who take a quite radical approach to life after the Departure.

The book is very much about those left behind; not about why some were taken, or where they went. It’s an exploration of life on a small geographical scale (we hear very little about what happens in the rest of the world) told through the characters of a number of people in a community. As such, it’s very enlightening even if we keep telling ourselves it may seem somewhat improbable.

Given that this book is being made into a series, I looked at information about the series. It seems that Justin Theroux is cast as Kevin Garvey, who in the series is the police chief of Mapleton (in the book he is the Mayor). Clearly the producers were looking for a bit more sex appeal in the casting, as they have also cast Liv Tyler as Megan Abbott (not who I would have envisaged on reading the book, but hey what do I know about tv casting!?). Interestingly, Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Doctor Who) has been cast as Reverend Jamison, and I think he would do very well indeed as this intense character whose faith is shaken badly by the Sudden Departures.

This is a good read as a book, undemanding yet thought-provoking. I can imagine the tv series being extremely popular as well, and well worth a watch.
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on 27 November 2014
Started reading this after getting hooked on the recent series on Sky Atlantic. It didn't take long to read.
Although it didn't contain as much action as the TV series it seems to have covered about the same ground and gave some interesting additional insight into the main characters.
I understand that the first series is based on this book but the second series will be entirely new material so I'll be interested to see where it goes.
Don't buy this book if you are looking for 'answers' as it doesn't really give any. It is more a study in how these different people try to come to terms with this unthinkable event that has impacted everyone in different ways.
Overall, an enjoyable and pleasantly easy read.
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on 12 October 2014
You have probably got here from watching the excellent HBO series.

Some things are different but it is very familiar ground to those watching the TV show.

Perrotta has created a believable world full of interesting characters and how each one of them deals with loss and dramatic changes in their environment and personal lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the TV show and wanted more of that world. Though not dramatically different, it does flesh out some of the characters a little and give a better understanding behind their motivations.

It's not a carbon copy of the story of the show and there are enough differences to make it worthwhile investing your time in reading it. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2011
Tom Perrotta's novel, "The Leftovers", is the story of a small town in New England, populated, at present, by those not chosen to vanish in a Rapture-like mass disappearance. The "Disappearance", as it was called world-round, sort of took people like a plague or a flu epidemic might - people here and there, and in some cases, almost full families. Those people "left over" cope with their continued existence on this earth in different ways. Some were disappointed they weren't taken - why weren't they "chosen"? - but most were glad to be left alive, even if they missed friends and relatives taken. Some can't cope with the guilt of being left while a sister, daughter, husband, etc were taken instead.

Perrotta opens his novel three years or so after the disappearance. Life has continued but most people are changed as they look around themselves and still miss their loved ones. Change has come by necessity to the small town of Mapleton. Kevin Garvey, a self-made millionaire has lost his wife, not to the Disappearance, but to her joining a cult-like group, the "Guilty Remnant" - a group dedicated to keeping the Disappearance in people's memory. His children have also drifted off to their own lives. But, besides the Garvey family, Perrotta introduces other characters in other situations, all whose lives intersect in some way. It's an interesting book, but strangely lacking in energy. The characters move with slowness as they try to reclaim their lives, or to make new ones. And that slowness is reflected in the writing style. I think Perrotta wrote this way on purpose and it is effective in a strange way. Somehow the writing matches the lives of the characters. "The Leftovers" is a good book that perhaps makes readers think about life after a tragedy.
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on 25 December 2014
I found this a very weird book - not on my wavelength at all but I fear the problem may be with me rather than the author. The aftermath of the Rapture (or whatever else it may have been) is so disjointed I found it impossible to keep track of all the characters. This may have something to do with the fact I was reading it on a Kindle where it is not easy to flick back through the pages to check on a name or situation. Sorry, Mr. Perrotta, this is not for me.
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on 12 January 2016
Disappointed. I really enjoyed the book until I got to the end. Maybe I missed the point but I felt cheated not knowing why. I also felt it ended very abruptly leaving more questions than answers, liked I'd only read part of the book and someone had ripped out the last few chapters leaving me unsatisfied and in the dark.
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on 24 September 2014
How do the inhabitants of a small town cope with loss , bereavement and the understanding that life isn't really all they were told . Very post 9/11 and with so many of the apocalyptic changes going on in the world , this is a spot on story . Its very American , think Updike or Carver rather than the sci fi approach of Ballard or PK Dick . There is not a lot of dramatic plot , soft ball games are played , valentines still celebrated and new strange but comforting religions appear as only the americans would form . Here we would go to the pub or pretend we had gone back to 1950s with home made cakes . Perrotta isn't a writer to shout and the misery of many of the characters does become a little cloying [ very Ice house] yet this is definitely a novel to make you think and would make a great book group discussion.
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