Books

REVIEW: All That’s Left In the World by Erik J. Brown

When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. And if this new world has taught them anything, it’s to be scared of what other desperate people will do . . . so why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other?

After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But something isn’t adding up about Andrew’s story, and it could cost them everything. And Jamie has a secret, too. He’s starting to feel something more than friendship for Andrew, adding another layer of fear and confusion to an already tumultuous journey.

The road ahead of them is long, and to survive, they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire, together. Only one thing feels certain: all that’s left in their world is the undeniable pull they have toward each other.

 

Queer Young Adult, post-global deadly pandemic, good and bad in the world

 

 

“All That’s Left in The World” is the debut novel by own-voices author, Erik J. Brown. In 2021 Brown was selected as a Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow. This was a very decent story for a debut novel, and I will be keeping my eye on this author’s work.

This novel is set in a world in which a deadly pathogen has wiped out most of the population of earth. Seems an appropriate topic considering what the world has been going through for the past year and a half.

In this rather dystopian world, naturally there are good humans and bad humans. There are people who have banded together to try and survive and there are loners who are trying to … live.

Jamie is one of the folks who has holed up and carved out a piece of life for himself. He’s lost his mother… but learned a great deal from her nursing experience before she too was taken by the illness. Fortunately, he has a notebook full of emergency medicine when Andrew shows up at his front door seriously injured, starving and in need of help.

Andrew has lost everyone…but is clinging to some idea that there are amends that he can make. He needs Jaimie to help him…. And together, they form a friendship that could keep them both alive.

I quite enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters. They are quite different from one another… Andrew being a bit more devil-may-care, maybe more confident in some ways… Jamie is solid and sure, less likely to take risks. They are a good match with one another even as they realize they may need each other to get anywhere in the hostile world they live in.

Jamie was my favourite character. He’s wise beyond his years without seeming too adult. There is something very peaceful and sweet about him and the way that he embraces Andrew and all his challenges. Even when Jamie suspects there’s more to Andrew than he knows about, it’s not his instinct to be distrustful or flee… he just doubles down on his commitment to provide whatever support he can.

The author does a great job of giving this friendship real value; it doesn’t come off as though the boys are friends simply out of necessity. That’s an important selling feature of this story. There’s real caring and chemistry between Jamie and Andrew and it’s authentic and sweet.

This book is very like “The Walking Dead” only not nearly as violent and with a lovely teen queer couple. It does lean a bit heavily on the good versus bad when it comes to the people they encounter. Everyone the two boys meet seems to fall clearly in one category or the other – there aren’t any shades of gray.

Not everything is resolved by the end of the book… naturally, it wouldn’t be. The world is still a hostile place, but the ending is hopeful.

I enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it to young folks interested in the genre.

 

links

Goodreads || Author || Publisher

I received an ARC of All That’s Left in the World  by Erik J. Brown from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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