As The first three books I received directly related to maternity and motherhood, I decided it was time to review an off topic, just for fun rule book. I found the premise of All That is Left very intriguing, Stephen, estranged from his twin has to journey to a foreign country to retrieve his brother’s body and hopefully learn more about the mysterious death and just who his brother had become.
As is typically true for literary twins, Stephen and Scott are polar opposites. Stephen, our narrator, is a fastidious man of routine and a well traveled sommelier, yet he seems to stumble around human relationships including that of his live in girlfriend with whom the relationship was handing by a thread even before his trip.
Author Ward Anderson makes Stephen and in some ways all his characters with some degree of unlikeability. Stephen’s aversion to chewing sounds, stubbornness that had him bringing clothes that are all wrong to hot Singapore and not buying new ones despite several mentions of his wealth and his Scott’s inability to keep anything in his life permanent, addresses, jobs even relationships are meant to make them seem both more complex and human.
It’s hard to review this book properly without a lot of spoilers. Stephen meets Scott’s last girlfriend, Dania, the one woman he seemed truly close to and his meeting and subsequent interactions with her give the book a lot of its mystery. Through attracted to her, Stephen believes she’s hiding something from him and she’s right, her secret is one that enough clues were given about that I figured it out early, and I rarely figure out such details despite being an avid reader, and it’s an unusual twist and a great one.
There are minor characters in the book, that I wish were more developed. One in particular who is a key to the full story surrounding Scott’s death is in two scenes with major implications and yet those moments feel hurriedly written and may leave readers with more questions and some dissatisfaction as I was. In contrast to Ward writing so much about the heat of Singapore, the meals and what the less touristy parts of the country are like, it’s even more baffling why this choice was made.
The book did have an unusual and great conclusion. Loose ends are tied up and those readers wanting a complete ending perhaps dreading a book subtly setting up a sequel will appreciate it.
The author did a question and answer style interview at the end explaining why Singapore, why twins and why certain parts of Singapore were in his novel. It’s a great addition to the book,
Rating – four baby booties our of five