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The Leftovers Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780312358341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312358341
  • ASIN: 0312358342
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: Author Tom Perrotta is a master at exposing the quiet desperation behind America’s suburban sheen. In The Leftovers he explores what would happen if The Rapture actually took place and millions of people just disappeared from the earth. How would normal people respond? Perrotta’s characters show a variety of coping techniques, including indifference, avoidance, depression, freaking out, and the joining of cults. Despite the exceptional circumstances, it’s really not unlike how people respond to more minor incidents in their lives (excepting cults). The result is a novel that’s a slow burn yet strangely compelling, one that leaves the reader pondering the story long after it’s over. In vivid and occasionally satiric prose, he takes a bizarre and abnormal event--the Rapture--and imagines how normal people would deal with being left behind. --Chris Schluep

Review

"The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw."--Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
 
"[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires...Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche."--Washington Post

"[Perrotta's] most ambitious book to date....The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). The novel is filled with those who have changed their lives radically or discovered something crucial about themselves, as radical upheaval generates a variety of coping mechanisms. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human—ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary situation." — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers...Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope."--Marie Claire
 
"An engrossing read."--People
 
The Leftovers is sort of an “Our Town” for End Times. Tom Perrotta, our Balzac of the burbs, has come up with a wild premise for his engaging, entertaining new novel. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred…He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives…The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off.”--Chicago Sun Times

“Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on…Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same.”--Seattle Times

“In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease…it’s a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; it’s a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation.”--Boston Globe

“Perrotta’s gift is his ability to infuse satire with warmth, to find significance in the absurd. It’s easy to mock extreme forms of religious expression. It’s harder to find their meaning and application. Perrotta does both in this rich and oddly reassuring read.”--More Magazine

"The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament."--"The Bullseye" in Entertainment Weekly
 
"Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away."--O, The Oprah Magazine (selected as one of the Best Fiction titles of 2011)

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Customer Reviews

The book just ends.
Amazon Customer
Though I believe in "The Rapture" I agree that no one will know who will be taken and who will be left behind.
Gayla M. Collins
No character development.
LtMuldoon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

208 of 231 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Del Sesto on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
EDIT: For those liking the TV show and interested in reading this book, I can tell you that they are pretty different. The show is more in your face, the book more subtle. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read the book too, but please know they are quite different including different characters. Also, if you are looking for the Christian Rapture in this book, you will be disappointed.

My only experience with Perrotta prior to this was two movies - Little Children, which I liked, and Election which I didn't. (EDIT: Re-watched Election, liked it much better the 2nd time.) His books definitely seem like something up my alley, but I'd never been compelled to pick one up.

This one sounded ideal for me. I love the different portrayals authors make of those "left behind" or in this case, "Leftover."

The prologue, for me, was genius. Absolutely hilarious. I thought it was setting the stage for what was going to be an uproarious social satire. It was not. Though there were moments of humor beyond the start, they were few and far between. What I found most about this book was that it was subtle.

For a long while it felt to me like "The Stepford Wives: The Rapture Years". I'm not a plot point type of reviewer, so this is nothing that you can't read on the jacket copy. There was an event, and a lot people disappeared from the planet. But this isn't some kind of 12 Monkey's type world. It's about normal people, with cell phones and jobs, coming to terms with what happened, and moving on with their lives. The aftermath of the aftermath if you will.

I was feeling really critical of the book because for a long time it felt so emotionless. Some people lost entire families, yet there was no grief.
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134 of 151 people found the following review helpful By socaler on July 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was so excited by the prospect of reading this book after hearing an interview with the author. The concept sounded amazingly original, fresh, loaded with possibilities for exploring religious, societal and personal themes. I've never been more disappointed by a book. It's actually painful what he did with the execution.

After creating this extraordinary setting of a Rapture-like event, but one that also contradicted the expected features of the Rapture, Perrotta then sort of drops the whole business. Oh, there's plenty of grief over lost relatives and friends--which Perrotta, with his unpretentious, easy-to-read but slightly flat writing style, can't make the reader quite feel--but this could just as well have been a story about the aftermath of an epidemic of cholera sweeping the nation. It''s a story about a few people from a town trying to cope when they've lost loved ones. That's all. The whole idea of the mystery of what happens when millions of people simply vanish (apparently, wearing their clothes; interesting, huh?) and its ties with certain religious beliefs, that's pretty much ignored. What's the point? Some people join cults, though only in one case does it sound remotely reasonable that this might actually attract people. Teenagers get messed up. blahblahblah. There is one truly touching moment, when one character gives another a simple gift inscribed with words like "Don't forget me." If Perrotta had grabbed that kind of moment and made many more of them, he might have really had something here.

Whether the characters are religious or not, something supernatural has happened here. You'd expect people to be a little more engaged in trying to figure out what it might mean. Aliens? God? Alien gods?
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By B. McCarthy on June 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never read any of Perrotta's work before The Leftovers. I downloaded this after learning of the HBO series of the same name, expecting great characters, an entertaining satire, or least an interesting post-apocalyptic tale. Unfortunately, despite a promising beginning, The Leftovers ends up becoming a colossally boring trek through post-rapture suburbia that not only fails to deliver any payoff, but doesn't offer any reason to keep reading.

In theory, this book should work, even without explaining the exact nature of or reasons behind the rapture-like event at its center, but it doesn't. To summarize, a considerable portion of the population simply up and vanished one day without any warning. Some are quick to label this the rapture, while others refuse to believe it. Rather than devolve into anarchy or war, the world instead just keeps plugging along, although several cults and cult-like groups rise up in response to that day's events. The "story" (such as it is) focuses on the suburban community of Mapleton, and is told from the points of view of five characters, with one receiving slightly more focus than the others.

The problem isn't that the book doesn't explain the mysteries behind the mass disappearances; if Perrotta had crafted complex, sympathetic characters and/or given them an intriguing setting and interesting things to do, that would have been, at the least, mildly interesting. Instead, the problem is that the characters are simply boring, and the events that happen all end up being either incredibly dull or disappointingly anticlimactic. Some of the plotlines--one in particular that essentially starts out as a sort of quest--seem like they'll be interesting early on, but then...nothing happens.
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