Plot Summary

In Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam’s newest publication, a married couple and their children head into the New York countryside to have a family vacation – a reprieve from the daily city life they typically are a part of. Before they know it, their vacation has been turned upside down when the owners of the vacation house they are renting show up, bringing news that everywhere else in the surrounding areas have no power or cell service.

While their cabin continues to have power, neither of the couples have cell service, internet, or any way to contact the outside world or find answers to what is going on, how widespread the outages are, or whether the answer is to travel back into the city. As the couples navigate what feels like a post-apocalyptic world, they experience sensations that leave even the reader in awe: a flock of flamingoes show up to bathe in their swimming pool and many more. Events that seem meaningless become spooky in the technology-less world that Rumaan Alam creates in Leave the World Behind.

The Verdict

This novel is understated horror, a tale of living without knowledge of what has happened around you. The couples – one black, one white – must lean on each other and overcome not only racial differences, but the skepticism that comes along with surviving a catastrophe with a complete stranger. Alam’s prose style leaves a bit to be desired in places and there are overly descriptive sexual scenes that the book could have lived without; however, the novel explores such internal terror in nuanced ways. The reader can begin to feel uneasy as the characters do, exploring this uncharted territory with a couple they do not know at all. The unsettling nature of the children add to the dimensions of the plot as well, as they wander into the woods around the cabin throughout the novel.

The Ideal Reader

The characters are top notch, multi-dimensional and riveting. The scenario is one of intense questioning and empty gaps. The reading experience of this novel is one of unsettled unknowing. If you are looking for a scary novel with clear answers, this is not it. But if a creepy, atmospheric novel that strives to give you goosebumps is what you’re looking for, this is the one.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you want to buy it via Amazon, check out the links in this post or right here (we do get $ if you buy!)