Reviews /

All That’s Left in the World

Authored by Erik J Brown
Published by Hachette Children's Group

Tagged , , , , ,

One of my favourite Young Adult novels of the last year and a half, All That’s Left in the World follows Jamie and Andrew on their journey to safety in an America destroyed by a pandemic. Written before, and rewritten during, the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown’s story revolves around two teenage boys who find each other after they’ve lost everything. The story is told via the shifting narrative perspectives of the two main characters, Andrew and Jamison, bringing readers close to both boys with their fears and worries as they travel south from Pennsylvania to Florida.

The novel opens with Andrew recounting stepping into a bear trap. He comes across Jamie in his cottage who provides medical help. And from then the story, on one level, follows a fairly typical quest. The boys face internal and external struggles to travel down the coast to what remains of their family in Florida. What takes this out of the typical, and into the brilliant, is Brown’s character development and description of places and challenges. There are moments of YA angsty teen but what would you expect of a story where two boys have to save themselves from wild animals and ‘preppers’.

A tight bond emerges from their initial promise not to kill each other and the boys travel together to stay alive. Chased off by adults who should know better, they find some who do. The challenges they face are authentically drawn to represent a real potential threat – a mere exaggeration of our current times. Perfectly, and horrifyingly, plausible.

Beautifully descriptive and tension-filled, All That’s Left in the World will never leave you. I’ve read it twice and recommended it to so many students. All have loved it. It’s hugely personal but also globally timely. Who would you be when the world burns – a Henri or a Rosewood? For readers of 14 years upwards.