I’ve tagged “The Leftovers” as science fiction, although I’m not sure it was intended as such. The book opens with a great conceit: Over 2% of the Earth’s population has disappeared. Just poof, gone! Some think it was the Rapture; most are simply stunned and confused by what has happened. The novel focuses on the residents of a quaint suburbia called Mapleton and how they attempt to move on several years after the great exodus.
I absolutely loved the premise. What would you do if your loved ones suddenly disappeared? Would you carry on with your life as if nothing had happened, or would you chuck it all and join a cult devoted to reminding those around you that, as one left behind, you are part of the Guilty Remnant (the name of the cult) and that your time will come? What would you do if you were a man of the faith and you believe you were left out of the Rapture? Would you carry on with the Word or would you write your own, starting a newsletter devoted to digging up the dirty secrets of your neighbors to prove they weren’t worthy either? And what if you saw someone vanish right before your eyes – how would that affect you?
Suffice it to say this novel really got me thinking. HBO is turning it into a show and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. The characters are so well-written that you really do care what happens to them, the different plotlines bounce and weave and eventually intersect, and despite the ominous premise the book actually ends on a note of hope. What more could you ask for?