191 of 232 people found the following review helpful
A great concept, dumped in the trash
, July 24, 2012
This review is from: The Leftovers (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? And why isn't anyone remotely fearful about whether there might be a recurrence and that they might lose more people--or vanish themselves? It's a horrifying, scary thought yet also one to open up the mind and soul--for once it has been proven to the entire world that supposedly impossible things do happen. Nope. Nobody gives any of this a thought.
Unlike other readers, I'm not bothered by the lack of a tidy ending. It would rob the book of mystery and power to explain the whole thing away--that is, if it had any mystery or power to start with. I was more bothered by the cute little coincidences. She was JUST about to join the cult when along came....She was JUST about to leave town when along came....
I'd love to see this book undergo a Rapture-like event, and I don't mean that to be cruel. If it simply disappeared, the slate might be wiped clean for Perrotta to take a stab at doing it right.
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