Review: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The LeavingThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by Bloomsbury Publishing Australia in exchange for an honest review.


To say that ‘The Leaving’ didn’t pique my interest is silly: after all, that’s the reason I picked it up. This was a reading copy randomly sent to me by the publisher which puzzled me at first, but then made me decide to have a go. I loved the whole idea of an abduction/kidnapping taking place and then the return of the victims, with one never coming home. I usually do not pick up young-adult novels of this genre but felt the need to read outside my usual box and try something new. So my expectations of this novel were average. I was quite prepared to give it a three star.
I must admit the beginning was quite interesting. The reader meets the five, sixteen-year-old teenagers after they have been first released by their abductor/kidnapper. You could sense the confusion and the deep, dark mystery that surrounded these kids.
What caught me was the author’s writing style. This is my first novel by Tara Altebrando, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I loved the quiet, eerie atmosphere it had and the easy language. It pulled you in and there would be sentences which were broken and truncated to represent the flashing, short thoughts the main characters had. It was a style that effectively carried across everything the author wanted to say.
This was one of those novels where you were stuck guessing where the author would lead you the whole time. You were reading to find out what would happen next, next, next. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with these types of novels and ‘The Leaving’ was one of them. I wasn’t sure whether to enjoy the ride and let the story set its course or try to guess the ending. I couldn’t for the sake of me even predict what this would all end with. I loved it! I hated it! ARGH!
The plot was original but I couldn’t decide whether to praise its structure or dislike it. It stuck to the normal story structure – introduction, complication and resolution – but had these gentle twists and turns where you wouldn’t realise something important happened until it was brought up again.
The main characters were a puzzling set. Since Scarlett and Lucas couldn’t remember a single thing it was interesting to see how the author would show personality and character. A very interesting theme was explored to do with identity: how memories and our experiences of the world shape us and who we believe and know ourselves to be. After all, without our memories, who are we? I loved it and the thought provoking effect it had on me. As a reader, I haven’t come across too many novels like this in the YA genre.
The story told well but I felt like it was missing something epic to it. A spectacular, shocking twist would have been amazing to see as it would have really sky-rocketed the rating I would have given the novel. I was kept interested in reading the novel but only just. The progression of events was a bit slow for me and the story didn’t end up and mysterious as I thought it would. I admit that I could not think of an ending but the conclusion seemed just…too suited for the story.
‘The Leaving’ had a very gentle and surprisingly non-disturbing atmosphere in the end. I loved it for that as I usually stay away from mysteries or thrillers since they spook me so much. If you’re expecting something thought provoking and you love a bit of mystery in a modern day setting, than ‘The Leaving’ is right up your alley.
Congratulations to Tara Altebrando on publishing a novel that makes you question who you really are!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn’t like it, didn’t find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn’t bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!

View all my reviews


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