Cover Image: All That’s Left in the World

All That’s Left in the World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

There's a thin line in the literary sand that's nearly impossible to walk, now more than ever -- the line that follows the path to write a tale that's tense but humorous, high-stakes but digestible, real but optimistic, gritty but softened at the edges with hope and promise for the future. 

Author Casey McQuiston once wrote about the idea of turning tropes on their head and writing an "unbury your gays" story. McQuiston's 'One Last Stop' falls into this reverse-trope, and stories like Eliot Schrefer's 'The Darkness Outside Us' and, now, Erik J. Brown's 'All That's Left in the World' fall into a similar category where the queer characters and their love and identities get to triumph -- and perhaps change the trajectory of the world. 

Thrilling stories of hardship, loss, reality, and survival can still leave the reader not only feeling hopeful, but craving more of the plot, the characters, and the world they're prepared to dive into at the end of what the reader gets to see, which is how I felt at the end of this book. I think this story, despite the risk of its pandemic premise, is in fact exactly what readers need and want to see in the world right now, and I look forward to buying my own copy when I can.
Was this review helpful?
After getting injured, Andrew finds a cabin, hoping it’s abandoned. But instead, he finds Jamie—alone and stocked with supplies, food, and even hot water and electricity. As Jamie helps him heal (physically and emotionally), Andrew begins to fall for him and imagines staying at the cabin forever. But Andrew has some place to be—the only way he can possibly overcome his guilt. So he leaves Jamie…and ultimately regrets it. 

But when Jamie comes after him, the two of them travel south together, meeting people, overcoming obstacles that threaten their lives, and figuring out who they are and the lengths they’re willing to go—especially for each other. All while falling in love. 

This book was fast-faced, unputdownable, and unforgettable. There were intense moments of suspense, with surprises at every turn, but also more lighthearted moments where I couldn’t help but chuckle and fall in love with these characters and their relationship. I loved watching the characters’ growth and the emotional rollercoaster they go through as they grapple with their feelings for each other and the things they have to do when put in life-or-death situations. 

Okay, and most importantly, THE SLOW BURN is *fire* (and absolute torture…in a good way!). 
5/5. Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
The genre of post-apocalyptic adventure romance really fascinated me. I enjoyed this book and thought the post-apocalyptic adventure was fun. Andrew and Jamie met a wide variety of different characters which kept things interesting throughout their adventure. My only real issue with this book is I did not love Andrew I just found him kind of useless. If he had not found Jamie he would not have survived. Though overall I could look past that and I did enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
Brown presents a bleak future for the world and it is beautifully captured. What happens is our society does not learn its lesson after Covid? Readers seeing the back cover blurb may presume that this is another hastily developed novel about the Covid-19 pandemic, yet this story was developed beforehand. I wish the author's note about how the real-life virus was acknowledged within this text had been at the beginning of the book rather than the end. It provided so much necessary context that may help orient readers. 

Long story short, another virus has emerged and wiped out half of America. It's a sharp critique of the "live and let live" mentality that has dominated parts of the world during our current pandemic. Despite this broad context to the novel, the story really centers on a few key survivors. Andrew and Jamison are night and day, yet they are forced into an unlikely alliance early in the story. Ultimately, they find that there can be strength in numbers (which runs in the face of the lessons they've learned to this point and we uncover as their pasts get unearthed). There's a journey for survival presented. Do they know exactly what they're doing? No, but that's not really the point; they need to find out what their new normal will be and the reader is along for the ride. There are the inevitable slow parts as we revisit moments from both characters' points of view, yet Brown keeps the action moving at enough of a clip and with tight imagery to show how the world has changed for them. The world-building of this dystopic future nation is quite subtle and stunning.  

Let's hope educators bring this into the classroom so their students can find this cautionary tale and do something from it.
Was this review helpful?
This book totally took me by surprise, and it shouldn’t have. I saw the reviews and heard from people I trust that this book was incredible. But because I don’t love apocalyptic stories, I *still* dragged my heels on this one. 

If you’re like me, and still wondering if this book is as good as everyone says, let me be the one who tells you, with all the emotion I can put into three letters: YES. 

All That’s Left in the World is a dual perspective novel about two boys who have nothing and no one left after an avian superflu wipes out something like 99.8% of the population. It follows Andrew and Jamie who meet each other right in the opening chapters. After staying at Jamie’s secluded cabin for a few weeks while Andrew recovers from an injury, they make plans to head south for a few reasons. We learn about Andrew’s experiences as he opens up and shares with Jamie and vice versa. We learn with these characters, we panic with these characters, and we love with these characters. 

I will admit that when things got ~too intense~ with the plot and other survivors, I would have to put the book down for a bit to catch my breath. And though there is a lot of heavy subject matter (as is expected), this book is also funny and clever and joyous. Watching these two boys fall in love with each other almost felt like an honor, that as a reader, we are able to share in these small and special moments, that small and special moments can still exist when nothing else does. 

It’s been a few days since I finished reading and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book. This is every bit as incredible as everyone says it is. What’s more, I was a little nervous that this would be too emotionally heavy given, you know, the state of the world. Instead, I found it cathartic. Beautiful. One I will keep with me for a while.
Was this review helpful?
This was a good post-apocalyptic book! The plot is pretty standard for the genre, but the pacing is tight and I was engaged the whole way through. I didn't find the characters' personalities to be especially distinct, though, and the amount of pop culture references already felt dated.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
BESTIES. THIS BOOK. IS. AMAZING. Truly one of the best YA books I have read in a long time. It was thrilling, scary, and heartwarming all at the same time. If you’ve ever wished that Thomas and Newt from the Maze Runner were gay and in love, then this is the book for you. If you took all the best things from 2012 YA post-apocalyptic-dystopian era, you’d get this book. The characters are so well written, and how slow burn romance with the deadly pandemic backdrop was incredible. Plus the writing was very engaging. 5/5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an advanced copy of this to review! There is a definite lack of gay post-apocalyptic fiction, so I'm so glad that this exists. I'm also happy to report that this lived up to my expectations, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I think I saw somewhere that this is being pitched as David and Patrick from Schitt's Creek as teenagers at the end of the world. That absolutely describes Andrew and Jamie's dynamic so well. Jamie is much more reserved, level headed like Patrick. Andrew puts himself out there more, like David. They have bickering, they have sweet moments. The romance definitely isn't lost in this post-apocalpytic novel. But it also doesn't take away from the seriousness of what's happening around them. It feels realistic, given the circumstances.

The only reason this isn't getting a full five stars is honestly because I was a little taken out of the story by the mentions of COVID. I get the importance, and appreciated the author's note at the end about it. I'm still of the opinion that it feels too soon to put COVID in books. Does anyone else feel this way?

Anyway, this is definitely a very character driven novel, as there's not necessarily a central conflict driving the plot except for the apocalypse. Personally, I'm a fan of this kind of story, but always feel like it's helpful knowing that before you go into the story.

All in all, if you're looking for a good character driven post-apocalyptic novel, this is for you! I also appreciated the Tom Holland references, because of obvious reasons (or maybe not obvious, if you haven't seen my posts about Spider-Man). This might be one I add to my personal library when it comes out in March!
Was this review helpful?
I read this ARC via Netgalley.

Andrew hasn't seen another person in so long that he barely expects anyone to be home when he enters a house with a severe injury.  Jamie hasn't seen anyone else either, but after the surprise of someone his own age showing up on his doorstep, Jamie uses the medical notes his mother left after the plague took her to help him.  During the weeks of healing, the two boys become close.  But then their safe haven is threatened, and they hit the road.  Andrew has a destination in mind, only it means he'll have to reveal to Jamie a dark secret...

This was the gay post-apocalyptic novel I never knew I wanted!  It took all the survival stuff I love from "The Walking Dead" minus the zombies and added in some mutual pining.  For the most part this was a bromance that turned to romance, as Jamie - presumed to be straight by both himself and Andrew - begins to sort through his feelings and realizes he has fallen for Andrew.  Only every time he tries to say something, some other post-apocalyptic situation arises.  I started reading this yesterday and just could not put it down, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book!

Rating: 4.5 stars

I absolutely loved this so much! As soon as I started it I couldn't stop until I finished in one sitting. The writing, plot and overall atmosphere was completely my jam, I've been craving more queer post apocalyptic type stories for years and this one delivered everything I wanted and more! 

Such a fantastic debut book, I truly can't wait to read more by this author in the future! I loved the fact that this was dual POV, the friendship between the main characters was lovely and their journey to lovers was done so well. I felt like the plot lost its footing around the 50% mark, but honestly I didn’t care at all, it was all just vibes and I was having such a great time I didn’t want it to end. 

Overall, highly recommend this one if you like post apocalyptic YA with queer characters and fast paced writing.
Was this review helpful?
This is the queer post-apocalyptic novel I have always wanted. I adore both protagonists Jamie and Andrew so very much. Their voices sing on the page. Watching their relationship bloom from the ashes of a society ravaged by a pandemic is truly beautiful, hopeful, and affirming. I cannot wait to get this into the hands of my students.
Was this review helpful?
This was a cute book, but I wasn't really into it. It wasn't really a topic that I enjoyed, it had potential but I didn't see myself getting into the writing.
Was this review helpful?
All That's Left in the World by Erik J. Brown is a fantastic blend of a postapocalyptic quest and a love story. After the super flu wipes out the majority of Earth's population, society breaks down and life becomes a survival of the fittest. When Andrew is injured by a bear trap, he seeks refuge at a cottage deep in the woods that seems abandoned, but he quickly learns that Jamison is living there alone. What begins as a tense, untrusting relationship quickly becomes a deeper respect and friendship as the two teens set out together to try to find what it is they are each looking for. 

I loved all the aspects of the book! I appreciated the intensity of the postapocalyptic world and the universal goodness of finding someone you can trust and build a hopeful future with. The LGBTQIA+ representation is beautifully written and lends a sweetness and sense of humor and normalcy to the storyline. At times, the references to the pandemic, societal breakdowns, and bigotry was triggering, but there is a goodness to the main characters that offers and emotional relief to the reflected reality of current events.

CW: gun violence, pandemic, bigotry, lawlessness

Advanced copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
"All That's Left in the World," follows two teenagers navigating the world after a deadly disease has wiped out 80% of the population. Andrew and Jamie find each other unexpectedly but quickly find themselves relying on each other to survive a wild journey across the country. And maybe feelings also develop? You'll have to read to find out.

I was pleasantly surprised by this; I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. I was worried that it was going to just be an allegory for Covid and feel overwrought with cliche's of the last two years. However, the book very successfully avoids these. The book acknowledges the existence of Covid, but because it is ultimately a post-apocalyptic love story with such well developed protagonists, I never found myself cringing or being turned off by any of this content. There are some pop culture references in the book that I found myself doing that with; however there are some that are also much more tasteful and gave me a good ole' chuckle. 

I also have to appreciate the author's willingness to put trust in the reader to "figure it out." There is a point at which the two characters find a community of people, but something isn't quite right. And while it is never said outloud what this community is up to, the book makes it very clear with the clues provided and trusts the reader to piece it together.

I still can't get over how much of a delight this book was. It was fast-paced, comical, and heartwarming while also tackling some heavier subject matter and darker themes. What a pleasant surprise.

**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-ARC of this book.**
Was this review helpful?
I've been anticipating this one since I first read the synopsis but unfortunately it fell flat for me. The writing was kind of choppy and I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I enjoyed the dystopian aspects though and how it takes place during an apocalypse of sorts and doesn't start right where the pandemic starts. I also felt that the stakes weren't as high in this one as I like them to be in survival stories but I will still be recommending it to friends
Was this review helpful?
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review*

I absolutely loved this book. Jamie and Andrew were so well written, and their journey from strangers to travelling companions to more was absolutely enthralling. I loved the descriptions of everything, and how bleak the world looks when a huge chunk of the population has died from a super flu. I also appreciated that that bleakness came without giving us graphic depictions of the loss of life or what can be found in homes where no one survives. Henri, Cara, and Amy were well written as well, and they felt like they had their own stories that just happened to coincide with Jamie and Andrew's journey, instead of being flat storytelling devices. Cara was someone that I didn't think I'd enjoy, but I found that by the end I wanted to know way more about her than we ever get to learn. No spoilers, but I love the ending location and wanted to know even more about how everything ran so smoothly. In short, I wanted to keep reading but I ran out of pages! Definitely going to recommend to anyone that will listen!
Was this review helpful?
Andrew has just had a less-than-pleasant encounter with a bear trap when he stumbles upon Jamie's cabin. In the post-apocalypse, everyone has lost someone to the deadly pandemic. But the two boys learn to trust each other and start to feel something more... 

I will start off by saying that this book was extremely difficult to read. That is no fault of the book or the author — I was simply not prepared for how many complicated emotions I would feel during a book about a pandemic that wipes out the majority of Earth's population. 

I did think, however, that the author handled this topic extremely well. He explored the tragedy as well as the hope. There was one very interesting (and worrying) section about a group of white supremacists who use the apocalypse to live out their America-first eugenicist fantasies. I appreciated the acknowledgment that fascists would have a field day with the apocalypse. 

I also loved everything to do with Henri, an older woman Andrew and Jamie meet on their journey south. Lots of dystopian books assume that we’ll fall to chaos immediately. But I, and the author, seem to believe that some people will come together. 

Henri asks: "Are people running around killing each other with reckless abandon? Honey, if all that stops people from killing each other is the laws of men, they maybe we deserved to be wiped out by the flu. You have to trust people sometimes. The good in this world might surprise you."

While there were some parts of the book I found a bit ridiculous — pretty much all of the zoo section, honestly — this was a solid book about what we lose and what we gain in the midst of tragedies. 

- the slowest of slow burns
- extremely heavy handed pop culture references
Was this review helpful?
<i>Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>

<b>First, Some Excited Rambling</b>
So, I started reading <i>All That’s Left in the World</i>, oh, maybe an hour or two after the year officially changed to 2022? I just wanted to read a couple chapters of something before I went to bed. And then this book kindly put me in a chokehold and said FINISH ME. FINISH ME IN ONE SITTING, YOU FOOL. READ YOUR FIRST BOOK OF 2022 IN ONE GO UNTIL YOU FEEL SICK FROM STAYING UP TOO LATE. 

I’m not starting off the year with bad vibes so I didn’t argue. 

In conclusion, I stayed up until 6am, technically on New Year’s Day, sitting in the same spot for four or so hours, unable to shut my Kindle until my eyes had processed every single word within the file, right down to the copyright page. 

So if it wasn’t clear, I very much enjoyed <i>All That’s Left in the World.</i> An easy 5 stars if you some how missed my rating. 

<b>A Warning</b>
Do be aware that this book is a post-apocalyptic novel that isn’t directly about, but does reference, the COVID-19 pandemic. While our real world hasn’t exactly reached the dire state that the novel is set in, some of the fear and anxiety within the book resemble actual experiences of living through a pandemic.  

<b>The Writing</b>
Other than that, I was surprised by how hooked I was by page 1. I never read post-apocalyptic books, and nearly never read any kind of book that gets my heart racing. But <i>All That’s Left of the World</i> was such a fantastic blend of humor, action, suspense, guilt, hope, and delicious soft moments, all made possible by a fresh writing style. Although the book alternates POVs between our two main characters Andrew and Jamie, both of their voices were distinct and their backgrounds and motives were equally intriguing. The dialogue was also fantastic—quippy and sarcastic in the good moments, which only made the dire moments seem so much more intense. This is certainly a YA novel, laced with many pop culture references, but Erik J. Brown does not hesitate to include the gritty details of this post-apocalyptic world. Yet, the writing was still somehow light and consumable without glossing over any important moments. 

<b>The Plot</b>
As I mentioned, I don’t usually read this genre so I can’t compare it to much. But with the post-apocalyptic movies I’ve seen, I can’t say the plot was entirely unique or unpredictable. And that’s what surprised me! I still was aching to know what was going to happen in each scene. This is the kind of story where you’re not exactly making predictions about how it will end; rather, you want to figure out how the characters will get out of the far too many sticky situations that they get themselves into. That’s probably why I sat down, unmoving, until I finished this book (digital) cover to cover—each scene feels like it’s own little adventure. It’s great. Even my tiny attention span was roped in. 

<b>The Characters</b>
I loved them, Your Honor. They were beautiful. Guilt-ridden. Soft. Broken. Funny. Protective. Still capable of love despite all the tragedy. They meet so quickly, come attached so quickly, and yet everything else is so slow and gentle in the best way. And, as mentioned by the author, this is a <i>queer</i> post-apocalyptic story. That part was woven into the novel so effortlessly. Yay for representation among a deadly flu! (But in all seriousness, I really appreciated that. For the most part, if I am looking for queer representation, it is usually found in romance and fantasy novels, so it was exhilarating to find it elsewhere.) I’d give the author anything just for a bonus novella of Jamie and Andrew just living life, having a conversation or something. 

<b>Overall, Read If…</b>
You love
- Bickering between two lovable idiots
- The “tending to the other’s wounds trope” within the first few pages
- Sharing a bed when there wasn’t only one bed
- Sarcastic dialogue
- Tom Holland
- Brief but intriguing side characters
- Working through guilt
- Slow burn romance that honestly doesn’t feel too slow burn at all
- Just two boys protecting themselves against the dangers of the world

TWs: pandemic (fictional), reference to COVID-19 pandemic, death, descriptions of dead bodies, violence/murder, guns
Was this review helpful?
Much like the author says in the author’s note “Why did I write a pandemic book?” About twenty minutes in I’m wondering, “Why am I READING a pandemic book?”

Not gonna lie, I thought there might be zombies, because when it’s zombies, it doesn’t feel as real. This book terrified me because what in the past seemed impossible has been part of our lives for the past two years.

This isn’t a book about COVID, though it is referenced as something in the character’s recent past. This is the world not learning from that and completely falling apart. Besides that it’s very much a survival story, with two teen boys, two really wonderful characters that I loved, and their experiences. I loved Jamison and Andrew so much 🥺. 

I haven’t read a book like this since the pandemic started, I was a little worried about starting this one, but I have to say that this story really got me. I read this in one sitting, because I had to know what Andrew was hiding, I had to know what would happen to them, I wanted to make sure they were okay.

And *spoiler* sort of love that after everything they end up in Florida 😂. There are indeed good people in Florida.
Was this review helpful?
It's a queer post-apocalyptic ya novel and it is really good! I was hooked almost immediately and enjoyed reading the journey Jamie and Andrew go on, both physically as they walk hundreds of miles together and emotionally as they fall in love. 

Did some of the intense outrun/outsmart the bad human survivors scenes get a bit repetitive. Sure. But that is to be expected in apocalyptic stories.

But Jamie and Andrew also discover wonderful humans and learn what they are capable of when necessary. Erik J. Brown also delves into the guilt they feel surviving wasn't easy. They go through a lot together, save each other, and find love. The journey is beautiful and absolutely worth the read.
Was this review helpful?