Korey B’s Review:
All That’s Left in the World
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.