The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Published on: August 2011
Page Count: 368
Genre: Dystopia, fiction
My Reading Format: Digital download of the audiobook from Macmillan Audio through the Solid Gold Reviewer Program
Audiobook Published by: Macmillan Audio
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 18 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook and audiobook
In a post 9/11 world, waking up to find a large portion of the population simply gone without trace or explanation is not as far fetched as it could be. That’s the world of Mapelton, an otherwise quiet suburban city. It is from this vantage point that Tom Perrotta paints a picture of American life after a quasi Rapture takes place. Although many people lost family members or friends, there was no explanation for what happened. What arises from that wreckage is an interesting, thought-provoking and more often than not funny look on suburban life.
The Leftovers is populated by a large cast of characters, each with their own pre-Sudden Departure lifestyles and beliefs. I never got close to the characters the way I might, but that made sense to me. After something as earth shattering as the Sudden Departure, everyone kept everyone else at a distance. Even those people who were trying to make a connection with others had a difficult time. Their reactions and their coping mechanisms are what made this novel most interesting. What happens to one’s faith when the salvation they firmly believed in is seemingly disproved? While I might take a little evil delight in a self-righteous person not being raptured, the way in which those self-righteous people reacted to being left behind was very sad for everyone else. It was equally interesting to watch people irreligious before the Sudden Departure become so caught up in their own grief and guilt that they become yet another new form of obnoxious “believers.” Some things never change, though. Charlatans pop up to take advantage of every possible situation.
Dennis Boutsikaris has a pleasant voice. It was comfortable listening to him read the story. There was a difference in his work versus other narrators. He had great inflection and kept me interested throughout. However, the experience was more of being read to than of having it performed. There was very little change in voice or accent among the male characters and none among the female characters. The lack of vocal cues combined with Perrotta’s writing style made it difficult at times to discern who was speaking. While this was noticeable, it wasn’t disconcerting. I would listen to another book narrated by Boutsikaris, especially if it wasn’t as character-rich as The Leftovers.
The Leftovers did not replace Little Children as my favorite Tom Perrotta novel, but it was thought provoking as well as funny. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read it. I might think twice about joking around that the world would be a better place after the Rapture. The Guilty Remnant are a far worse lot to deal with.