A Goodreads user
A Goodreads user asked:

I'm about half way through and still waiting for something to happen. Anything. I'm finding the writing good but very cumbersome. Is it worth finishing/does it get better? I have faith, but my TBR pile is calling...

To answer questions about Leave the World Behind, please sign up.
Jon De Santis I just finished it, and the problem I have is that once you've moved beyond the original set-up (stereotypical 2.2 family from NYC rents an Airbnb in the back of beyond, strange things relating to a major power cut start happening, and the owners return and ask to stay in their own house because they fearful of travelling to NYC), nothing happens, other than lots of short chapters promising some sort of grand denouement, which - spoiler - never comes!

Unlike some readers (each to her own), I am not overly bothered by a big discernible 'plot', but the issue here is that entire story leads you down one long drawn-out suspenseful thriller-esque route and then makes no attempt to deliver on this promise.

I'm more than happen to end a book with questions ('reader: you decide), but not when you have been led a merry dance for 300+ pages, only to be told, 'there is no resolution' at the end. And in any case, it isn't that kind of book, genre-wise, because no one rides off into the sunset at the end leaving the reader to decide where they are heading.

The overall effect is that you feel conned. It's like being promised a cold Coke at the end of the marathon and being handed an empty paper cup.

And the characters are so flat and one-dimensional - 'bro' father who likes a crafty cigarette and to masturbate, middle class white mom who the writer desperately wants to cast as a heinous Karen but ends up portraying someone as non-dimensional as the Biden Harris bumper sticker that's probably on their car rear window. And as for the couple who own the house, who are these strange non-people?

Sue Stop if you feel you need to. I found the writing atrocious, cringe-worthy at times. I was compelled to keep going and felt that there was a sort-of explanation at the end for what was going on, but could not get by the ridiculously list-making manner of describing people and/or situations. A disappointment for me.
Jodi I reluctantly finished the book. I didn't get it....glad i'm not the only one!
Arlenefw I don't like to stop reading a book that I've started, but I wish I had put this one aside.
McKayla Moors Sorry, this book has no plot, and none ever develops!
Rebecca Neal No, the writing is bad throughout and the characters painfully shallow.
Kristina This is an excellent novel if you don't need everything spelled out for you. It's more of a commentary on our world than a genre-based horror book. If you are half-way thru it and don't get it, you may as well stop. It's not the book for you.
Amy Here's the thing. I felt annoyed while reading that there was so much narration/commentary/speculation and so little dialogue/action to move the story forward, but now after reading it, I honestly think the author was slowing building tension and putting us on edge as readers. We kind of have the same experience as the characters asking ourselves: what is happening? what is known? should we leave? what can we *do*? are we safe? etc etc.

While this was frustrating (edit, man!), I feel it was incredibly effective and these strong reactions here show that many readers did experience the story the way the author intended. It's not for everyone, and certainly not a typical story format, but I can't say it didn't *work.*

Karen Flockhart Why does everyone feel the need for a resolution. I’m sure the apocalypse isn’t going to come with a neatly tied bow around it. The whole book gives you the same confused feeling you would have if you found yourself in these circumstances. What would you do if you couldn’t just bring up the news on your phone?!?! I personally found it very atmospheric. So much so that at times I had to stop reading. I think some people need to understand that there’s more to the world of literature than just genre fiction!
Karen Beris Nope. Don't bother. I read it for a book club. It was interesting at times but was a waste of time. The book just ends. No explanation as to what happened and why. What did the girl know?
Mimi i saw there were only a few pages left and was wondering how this will all get resolved...it didn't!! great premise but didn't go anywhere!
Morgan R
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
James Corwin NO, not worth finishing...nothing ever happens. Don't waste your time.
Brittany Don’t bother finishing.
Keithacarpenter I almost quit on the grocery store chapter but I finished. Only because it was a short book with SO MANY BLANK PAGES. nothing happens, you could actually read the synopsis and know as much as you would if you read the book.
K I feel like this book was fine if you just wanted an experience without answers. It felt like when you turn on the tv and check out a show without knowing anything about it. You're left with a lot of questions, but I felt like it was a short enough book that I didn't invest too much into it, so I just took it for what it was.
So if you're already halfway through, may as well finish it because it does get a little more interesting. But don't expect all your questions to be answered.
Ginacjones Don’t waste your time, seriously
annette M I skimmed it skipping whole pages and paragraphs to get to the plot points.
CarolB I agree with Sue, the writing is overworked. I'm no vocab slouch but had to look up three words in my first night of reading. And yes, the lists! But a good friend said it was a worthy read so I'm soldiering on.
Diane As others have said, ditch it. I should have. Gave it 1 star rating.
Kelly B I loved the book, but I enjoyed it from the beginning. If you’re at the half way point and still not in it, I’d ditch it. Too many other books out there :-).
Martin I am about half way through and started off almost immediately with a dislike of the writing style. However, as it progresses, the sense of alienation and disquiet bubbles away nicely in the background and propels you on. There is a Ballardian sense of nature and technology turning against the human inhabitants of this perfectly sun drenched middle class idyll. I am very fond of narratives with ill-defined threat and the author introduces this all the way through the narrative. The characters are cyphers and so wrapped up in their individual narcissism that all the external signals, so far, are being ignored. The other part of the narrative obviously concerns race and the tensions between these two sets of strangers has this issue gently underlying the whole home invasion, sort of,theme. So, after an initial shaky start I am really enjoying this one.

Kumari de Silva I heard someone else describe this book by saying "it's not suspense, it's tension" and I agree. It moves at the pace of a snail so that the reader is the same situation of the characters. That's something you either find literary and interesting or you find annoying.
Joy Stephens
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dee It gets better, keep reading.
Suzanne Lepor Messina I had to stop reading it. I simply just couldn't finish. I found it painfully unenjoyable, which for me is the whole reason to read a book. I loathed the characters, which is ok, and necessary even sometimes, but I didn't care one bit what happened to any of the people in this one lol. Huge disappointment. Moving on...
Erin English Keep reading!

june3 I'm nearly 2/3 in, and I have to admit that I too am waiting for this book to take off. Why do I have the feeling that this was meant to be a parable or an allegory or some such that is currently going over my head? I'm going to double down and try to figure this out.
Ed Weirauch Truly one of the worst books I've ever read.
Overwritten, I almost needed a dictionary to get through some sentences.
Incredible digression at times, but really, from what?
Disgusting at other times, e.g.: "vomit - a beautiful plash of liquid"
Pages and pages of nothing happening.
I thought the Air BnB thing would be an interesting twist but it was almost inconsequential, NOT a commentary on racism so very little interest there.
I'll be very hesitant to ever trust Maureen Corrigan, book critic on Fresh Air NPR, again.
Ross I wish I would have seen this question before I read the book. Stop reading. I had a feeling the book would not have any resolution about half way through. Also, the author doesn't bring together several elements that enable the reader to have any understanding (Like a bad mystery).
Pat Whalen I wish I didn't continue. Kept waiting for something to happen. I am still trying to figure out how this was on the top of so many reader's lists for 2020. If you want to relive the horror of 2020 then continue reading.
Dona Byrum It's one of the worse books I've read. A total waste of my time. I did finish it, but skipped through the last 100 pages very quickly.
Tracy I am so thankful that so many people have this opinion too. I am almost done and absolutely don't get why people enjoy this book
Ellen I'm so relieved to see that I'm not the only one who felt this way! I managed to finish the book, but no, it did not get better.
Kylean K SAME! Im going to keep going. I'm sure it gets better.
Kiki Seriously, no, not worth your time or effort. The writing is juvenile, at best, and the story is meandering and plotless.
Stephanie It turned around at page 126 for me. Still didn’t like it much, but I stopped hating it so much.
Image for Leave the World Behind
by Rumaan Alam (Goodreads Author)
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more