All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown. Balzer and Bray, 2022. 9780063054974
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or starred review) 4
Genre: Speculative fiction / science fiction
What did you like about the book? A rampant superflu in a post-COVID world wipes out over 99% of the population. Andrew is alone in the world and horribly injured by a bear trap when he happens upon Jamie’s off-the-grid home. They distrust each other at first, but slowly become friends. When their home is threatened, they set off on a journey to discover what is left of the east coast of America and to see if rumors of help from Europe are true. Along the way they will experience hunger, hopelessness, and fear as they face their humanity together. Society and the government have collapsed and the world is much more dangerous than before. Moreover, Andrew has a secret he’s keeping that will threaten their fragile safety. The dual narration is effective, revealing that both boys have growing romantic feelings for each other. Andrew and Jamie are both white teenage boys. Andrew identifies as gay and Jamie has dated only girls in the past.
This adventure romance book is intense, especially in a post-COVID world. Remarkably, the author started the book before COVID broke out around the world. Readers should be aware that death and illness are discussed frequently. Readers who can handle this storyline willl find a fast-paced adventure story that never lets up and a slow burn queer romance that feels authentic. I loved it!
Anything you did not like about the book? I was a little surprised by how neatly things wrapped up given the turmoil throughout the book.
To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who like post-apocalyptic stories with a bit of queer romance will love this one. It’s a great readalike for They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera or the Life as We Knew It series by Pfeffer.
Who should buy this book? All high school libraries, as well as public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Science fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA
Date of review: April 25, 2022