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Leave the World Behind by Ruuman Alam #BookReview

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Leave the World Behind by Ruuman Alam Book cover

Title: Leave the World Behind | Author: Rumaan Alam | Publisher: Bloomsbury | Pub. Date: 6th October 2020 | Pages: 256 | ISBN: 9781526633088 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher

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Leave the World Behind Review

‘Leave the World Behind’ is one of those books with enough literary street cred to avoid the damning label of science fiction, thereby assuring it gets shelved in the general section of book shops along with other works of artistic merit. That’s not really a gripe, just a statement of fact. Whereas the movie industry seems quite happy to admit that genre films can be worthy of praise and even awards, the world of publishing still has some way to go. 

But this is a science fiction novel. To say much more than that about the plot than that would give away too much, so you’ll have to take it from me. It starts as a comedy of manners, with a middle class white family surprised at the AirBnB rental by a black couple. It’s an encounter that’s beautifully handled, with the polite embarrassment of both groups palpable. There’s also a real tension at play, spawned by the fact that, as the reader, you don’t really know what’s going on. As the events of the book get more bizarre and unexplained, that becomes a familiar feeling.

For the first third, the book can feel a little overwritten. The minutiae of the characters lives and thoughts are laid out and it sometimes seems like that author has something to say about absolutely everything. I’m not sure if it’s that tendency lessens as the book progresses, or if I was just more willing to forgive it once the plot kicks in. Either way it ceased to bother after a while. That grumble aside, the book is very well written. The characters and situations are believable and the depiction of our reliance on our smartphones is pitch perfect. Only the absence of COVID prevents this from being the ultimate 2020 novel, but there is isolation, paranoia, and racial unease aplenty. 

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
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