All That’s Left in the World

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. Mar. 2022. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063054974.
Gr 8 Up–Brown’s debut centers on the plight of two white teens, Jamie and Andrew, who meet after 99.9% of the world has died from a new flu strain. Jamie has taken refuge in his family’s cabin in the woods in Pennsylvania, and Andrew, from Connecticut, injures his leg in a bear trap passing through. The two form an alliance that turns to friendship and romance. A local militia takes the cabin, sending the two on foot across the East Coast heading south. Andrew, an out gay teen, has the idea to head to DC and the Reagan Airport, with rumors of an EU arrival. Finding the airport all but empty, they make their way to the South, meeting an array of characters and societal groups. In DC, Henri, an older woman, mentions her daughter in the Florida Keys. At a Southern military fort, they meet an extremist alt-right group who threaten the two. After an arduous journey to the Keys, they hope for a place to call home. Shades of The Stand and The Walking Dead, among other post-apocalyptic works, permeate this novel. However, Brown has crafted something unique in this genre with two gay teens as his protagonists. Additionally, sharp pacing will have readers turning pages at breakneck speed on two counts—the overall survival of the teens, and the emerging story of love.
VERDICT Recommended for all public and school libraries, this novel will appeal to a wide audience who are attracted to post-apocalyptic literature. It will help bring together kids of all identities who love this genre and want to see themselves, and others, represented.

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