The Worlds We Leave Behind is a story about friendship, retribution, and finding the strength to face down monsters, aimed at younger readers who enjoyed Stranger Things.
Enraged at how unfair life is, Hex runs into the woods and finds himself in a strange clearing that can’t possibly exist where a strange old woman offers him a deal: she’ll rid the world of those who wronged him. All he has to do is accept and they’ll be forgotten, forever. But what Hex doesn’t know is that someone else has been offered the same deal. When Hex’s best friend Tommo wakes up the next day, half-whispered memories make him think that something-or someone-is missing from his life. He sets out to find a way to put the world back the way it was, or find a way to make a new world that could be better for them all.
This book was a wonderful read on so many levels for both middle-grade and older readers. It has an almost nostalgic quality that both left me confused about which decade this book is set in and respecting the timeless feel. The illustrations are beautiful and haunting and are a perfect reflection of the book’s mood. It truly does evoke the atmosphere and the themes of Stranger Things and also reminds me of select Neil Gaiman’s works.
I think this book could’ve benefitted from being longer – the page count is incredibly limited for the amount of repetition that occurs in the plot and I was desperate for some new scenes as a break from the parts I’d already read. The repetition is impactful with the events that are occurring, but I just wanted more, more development to the main characters, more reasons to care about the side characters, more scenes that weren’t directly related to the main plot.
I usually try to refrain from commenting on the formatting of the eARC because I know it’s not a representation of the final product, but the formatting did severely impact my reading experience. Whole paragraphs were missing in places – I can only assume that they were covered by the images – and pages appeared to be in the wrong order at one point. I look forward to having the chance to read a physical copy of this book in the future so I can appreciate the illustrations in all their glory and not feel so lost about what went on in those missing sentences.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 stars)