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The Leftovers Paperback – May 22, 2012

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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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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'There are few writers more entertaining or adept than Tom perrotta at explaining the frustrations, ennui and creeping darkness at the heart of American suburbia' Vogue Magazine 'This is amazingly observant, funny and moving' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312363559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312363550
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (723 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

260 of 294 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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195 of 237 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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63 of 80 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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