A virginal, shy, geeky, young woman falls for a broken-hearted medic on a TV reality show. This comedy romance is peppered with characters that are probably common to this televisual form of torture sold as entertainment. I don’t watch it; it’s not ‘real’ in any proper sense of the word, and generally brings out the worst in most of the competitors, if comments about such shows are true.
In The Leftover, however, we’re introduced to two main protagonists who are, in their different ways, not the usual players. Megan is the unwilling competitor substitute for her sister and Cane is recovering from his own appearance on a similar show where the ‘dream couple’ didn’t materialise. He isn’t a participant but the on-sight medic dealing with accidents and illness.
This is described as comedy. As we all know, humour’s a very personal experience. I laugh fairly easily but this one didn’t do it for me. The story takes a while to get going and I had difficulty accepting Megan as the chronically retiring and self-deprecating young woman she is depicted as. Initially, I thought she must be in her late teens at most, and was surprised to discover she’s close to thirty. In fact, for me, the book, with its slightly puritanical attitude to sex, reads more as YA than adult fiction.
Cane, I found more credible as the rejected lover, trying to recover from a public humiliation, whilst maintaining a professional stance with the show’s competitors.
The story moves at a better pace once the show begins and we’re introduced to the other characters. Tensions build as various deals are made and the charlatans use their tricks to gain points. Relationships form and friendships are forged in the short period of intense competition.
The story is really a late coming of age tale with Megan developing as events unfold. There are the usual barriers to romance; some self-made and others resulting from the antics of various people.
The denouement builds to a satisfying and credible climax and truth wins out, with Megan discovering she’s an adult, not a child. Whether romance is also a winner you’ll have to discover for yourself.