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All That's Left in the World (edition 2022)
by Erik J. Brown (Author)
All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown
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Actual Rating: 2.5 stars
Picking up this book made me realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve read a dystopian novel. I think the last time I recall reading a lot of dystopian was back around 2014, so honestly I was a little worried if I would like this novel. The description seemed interesting though, and I was reeled in by the queer representation.
One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was the romance. As I said, the queer representation was what really drew me in but the romance just seemed out of nowhere. The characters sort of just woke up one day and went you know what? I think I’m in love with him. And good for them, but where was the on-screen/page development??? I’m forgetting the exact timeline, but I think it wasn’t even that long after they met when Jamie was like Oh, I think I love him. I feel like I do have to give some suspension of disbelief though considering these characters are 16/17, and I know how young love and infatuation can be, also combined with the fact that they are living in such an uncertain environment.
The characters were okay- likable enough but not really distinct in their own way. Dual POV tends to be a hit or miss for me, but in this case, I think I didn’t mind it because honestly both characters seemed very similar to me. If it had been a single POV, I think it would’ve worked out fine as well due to their narration styles, and just in general the main characters seemed to lack some substance.
In terms of plot, the idea was good but the plot line itself felt a little bit generic/formulaic. The whole secrecy about the Fosters had me curious but then the reveal was a little underwhelming for me. Then the other issues at Fort Caroline— honestly, I like how the author still incorporated systematic oppression in the novel. Because of course, with the setting being the US, even with a whole apocalypse happening, there would still be white supremacy/homophobia/ableism.
Overall, All That’s Left in the World was a fast, “pass the time” kind of read. It wasn’t particularly exciting or enthralling, but it had a decent plot idea and characters.
Erik J. Brown’s debut novel All That's Left in the World is a touching, earnest story of young, queer love in a post-apocalyptic world.
One of the reviews for Brown’s book called it infectious. That reviewer must’ve raced to publish it to claim that on-the-nose description of a book set in a post-pandemic apocalypse. But it’s important to note that there is much discussion of a deadly pandemic that ravaged the world’s population. Readers looking to avoid COVID triggers would probably want to avoid this one.
All That's Left in the World tells the story of Andrew and Jamie, two queer teens who find each other and a common goal before setting out on a life-saving quest that puts them squarely in the path of their world’s big bad. Brown switches between both boys’ first-person POVs throughout, giving us a thorough look at each character’s motivations for survival–and love. While their relationship begins as a matter of convenience, their earnest and authentic chemistry push Andrew and Jamie’s friendship into something more.
Brown has given the world a very Walking Dead vibe–without the titular zombies, of course. But the boys face groups of marauders large and small on their long journey, along with the expected physical trials and violence. The good vs. evil vibes had a very comic book feel to them. The villains lack nuance and are simply bad.
The story includes many real-world pop culture references to help define the character’s personality differences. You know, one likes rom-coms, the other likes the Avengers. I’m not a fan of that trope, but your mileage may vary.
This book contains mentions of the loss of family members, illness and a pandemic, acts of physical and mental abuse, addiction, homophobia, and detailed descriptions of violence and death.
teen fiction - post-apocalyptic adventure with queer romance and snark.
hard to believe this is a debut novel but not surprising that the author has already won some acclaim; Erik Brown's pacing is screenplay-perfect. I never wanted to stop reading this book and finished it in a day. More, please!
I was good to see the two different views expressed by these two young men that have suddenly found themselves in a difficult and unforgiving world. I thought some of the things that they had that prepared them for their journey was a bit improbable. An example was the book that Jamie's doctor mother wrote and left for him before she died. On their journey south the story became a bit rushed. I wondered if the last two years that the world has lived through was maybe a little too soon to present a "pandemic" themed book although the author says it was not intended to represent COVID. So ...if you're looking for a good character driven post-apocalyptic novel, this one will probably fit the bill. Be aware that it is a YA book.
What If It's Us meets Life as We Knew It in this postapocalyptic, queer YA adventure romance from debut author Erik J. Brown. Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Alex London. 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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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This might be the only YA book about a post-pandemic, post-apocalyptic world that I’ve personally ever read. It doesn’t shy away from some general post-apocalyptic tropes, and it does get brutal at times. But it’s still a YA book, so a lot of the heavier things are tamped down and hinted at more than explicitly spelled out.
A lot of this was written before Covid-19 hit, and the author addresses it in the afterword, stating that he added a couple of references to the current virus in the post edits, but the super virus that wipes out humanity in this story is a different, much more lethal one.
There’s nothing truly new or revelatory about this story, in comparison to other dystopian books. It’s about human nature, and it’s about how two teenagers could possibly survive in such an extreme situation. One of the boys is gay, the other possibly bisexual, and this is something they have to consider when encountering different groups of people. Because homophobia doesn’t end just because the world does.
One of the people the boys encounter along the way is a girl they eventually befriend. She reads like a person on the autism spectrum, though that’s not explicitly stated anywhere. It is interesting to consider, though, how someone who faces the world a little differently than the majority of people do would survive in a situation like this.
The main reason why I’m rating this book so highly is the characters. They aren’t teenaged GI Joes who can take on anything; they are just scared kids doing their best and feeling all the grief and anxiety you would imagine while battling unimaginable trauma.
One of the few YA books that I haven’t felt too old to read, in recent years. ( )