Review Blog

Nov 18 2020

Leave the world behind by Rumaan Alam

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526633095.
(Age: Adult / Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Clay and Amanda and their two teenage children, Archie and Rose, head off for a much needed family holiday staying in a luxurious Airbnb far off the grid. It's just what they all need, comfortable, with an entertaining area, French doors to the deck, a swimming pool, spa bath, and forest scenery with turkeys and deer in the background. Then the next evening, whilst relaxing after a day spent at the beach, there is a knock at the door. A genteel black couple claim to be the owners of the house, returning back to their home because of a huge power outage across the east coast. Is what they say true?
From here, this highly original story spirals out beyond anything you might expect. I was gripped, reading each short chapter after the next. Not wanting to give away any plot surprises, I can only say that Rumaan Alam draws readers into an overwhelming sense of dread, in the beginning reminding me of the 2007 psychological thriller Funny games. However Alam's novel isn't that kind of sadistic horror; instead it cleverly shines a spotlight on ourselves, our class divisions, prejudices, stereotypes, self interest, dependence on technology, in fact the whole modern world; and asks of us, if faced with the end of the world as you know it how would you behave, what would you do?
Themes: Dystopia, Social commentary, Human condition, Ethics.
Helen Eddy

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