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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Foray into Perrotta's Writing is Well-Worth it, August 15, 2011
This review is from: The Leftovers (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel is truly great. Simply put, it is a story about humans. It begins with a scenario that is all-too-real. It gets the mind going, the heart beating, and the pages turning.

The characters are really the strong point of the story, not the plot, not the setting. Each one is so perfectly flawed and real that it's like they could be your neighbor, your child's preschool teacher, your cult leader, your clerk at the grocery story. They are normal, everyday people - which, in itself, maybe the frightening part. It is all too easy to see yourself in any one of their shoes, imagining if you'd lost the people that they did, if you living through the pain that they have.

The story starts out a couple years after the Sudden Departure, in which millions of seemingly random people all over the world simply disappeared. As far as anyone can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to who was "chosen" or "not chosen" or "left behind," it just was.

Kevin is the mayor of Mapleton, a man who just wants to do good in the town, but it's as if everything is conspiring against him. His family is falling apart and there's nothing he can do about it. His daughter, Jill, is rebelling, caught up in the fast-paced world of Aimee, a wild girl without parents. His son, Tom, has been missing in action since he walked away from college leaving only a note, but is secretly a babysitter of sorts for a very important person in the cult of which he's long been a member. Kevin's wife has abandoned the whole family, taking a vow of silence and living in a community of people just like her.

The secondary characters are well-done and interesting. You have the Reverend who is struggling with the fact that he was not taken in what he firmly believes was the Rapture. There's the woman in town who lost her entire family and has spent the last several years picking up the pieces. There's the teenage girl whose mother is gone, leaving her with a borderline abusive stepfather. Each backstory is very different, but very believable.

The situations that Perrotta throws these characters into are tough and really make you start thinking about how you would react. The "Left Behind" scenario has been done many times before, but this is a fresh take that makes you look at the world a little differently.

The writing is captivating. I can't pinpoint any one thing - no special use of commas, no habit of using slang terms that enliven the setting, no silly naming techniques. It's subtly wonderful. It's easy to read, broken into many smaller scenes that make it easy to stay interested in. There's some wit splashed in there, some humor, some sadness. It's an emotional rollercoaster, of sorts, one that I delighted in.

This was my first Perrotta novel, chosen on a whim. I'm very glad I did and I look forward to reading more from him in the future.
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