I am in a small puddle of befuddle because The Leaving is a VERY VERY ODD BOOK.
I was very excited for it because a) mysteries! and b) creepy cover! and c) missing people stories absolutely intrigue me. (I may or may not have plans to write one so I launched myself at this book in glee for research. Because clearly.) But while I mostly enjoyed the story, it had such a disjointed ending that I feel like I have to leave logic at the door to accept it.
- THE PREMISE
Six kids are kidnapped when they’re 5-years-old…the book takes place 11 years later when they mysteriously return. BUT ONLY 5. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE 6TH? NO ONE KNOWS. Plus the 5 returning kids have 0% memories of what happened while they were gone. I loved all the mystery and questions. Usually the amnesia trope and I aren’t friends. But this time? Very well done. Plus I have a horrible memory myself…I barely know what my middle name is. SO RELATABILITY FOR ME IS HIGH.
- 3 VERY DISTINCT NARRATORS
I’m leery of books with multiple POVs, but this was done right huzzah! Their voices were all super distinct. (Plus it’s in 3rd person which is my one-true-love.)
- LUCAS: He was a kidnapee (is that even a word? Let’s make it a word) and he was very confused but heartfelt and determined and angry. And I loved him.
- SCARLETT: Also a kidnapee. Her chapters were stuffed with unique formatting and her voice was always confused and whimsical and SO WELL DONE.
- AVERY: Not kidnapped. But her brother was (actually her bro is the one that doesn’t come back). And I have to admit she was my least favourite one, just because the levels of WHINE. And she was so self-involved. Her dramas were #1 in her life.
- UNIQUE FORMATTING
Oh oh I have such a weakness for unique formatting. I think it totally enhances storytelling — like you READ the confusion but you also SEE the confusion. #visualsFTW Sometimes the words are in spirals of panic or shouting or squished or a thumping memory. IT WAS SO VERY COOL.
- LUCAS THO. LUCAS WAS MY FAVOURITE.
Not even gonna deny — he was my adorable little cinnamon roll of mystery and potential violence but also potential cinnamonness. (I’m an eloquent book reviewer, do not doubt this.)
- NEED TO KNOW MORE
I was so very desperate for answers! I NEEDED TO KNOW THE THINGS. That makes the book a solid “I like this” for me and I would nicely throw it at people. Or perhaps gently place it in their hands to recommend, but also throw. Because that’s more fun.
- THE ENDING DISPLEASES ME GREATLY
It’s the kind of book that introduces itself as a contemporary, and then about 80% through goes “HA! NOPE I’M SCI-FI!” I don’t like this. Because I expect the ending to be realistic and when it’s not I’m just confused and unbelieving. #unsatisfied And in CASE you want to know why….spoiler below!
- NOT CONCISE, LIKE AT ALL
It suffers from too many characters. I mean, there are these six missing kids, but only TWO actually are important to the plot. So why bother having so many kids??? And then it’s very very long. 430+ pages of people not knowing anything gets OLD FAST. Repetitive and confusing.
- ROMANCE = NOT WORKING FOR ME
I totally admit that a) humans are confusing, and b) romance isn’t usually my favourite anyway. But I still like a good shippy ship! But in The Leaving I didn’t understand anyone’s relationships. One minute they like someone and get actually goosebumps and butterflies with the memory of a relationship and then…”ACTUALLY I TAKE IT BACK, I DIDN’T LIKE HER EVER I JUST THOUGHT I DID.” Um um um…okay then, sir. Plus, since the book takes place over 2-weeks, I consider it insta-love.
- WORST PARENTING EVER
Obviously everyone would react differently to being united with a child they thought dead for 11 years. But half the parents didn’t even seem to care??? The siblings were all “Oh, you’re back? I don’t even think I like you.” And everyone else was just immediately jumping onto the “How do we get money out of this” train. YOU ARE ALL HORRIBLE AND WUT EVEN.
I did quite like the book and it was addictive…but overly I was disappointed.
I know the review seems pretty negative, but I still actually do recommend this one! BECAUSE LUCAS. And also it’s super intriguing and if you like missing-people stories — than this one is good. Plus the writing was unique and captivating and the characters were complex and intriguing and it had a flare of CREEPY. Which we all love. Don’t even deny it. I’m just sad about the random and disappointing sci-fi-sucker-punch of an ending.
THANK YOU TO BLOOMSBURY AUSTRALIA FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando was published June, 2016.
Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.
Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.
Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.
(click covers to read reviews)