No one is more surprised than I am by how much I loved this book!
What If It’s Us meets They Both Die at the End in this postapocalyptic, queer YA adventure romance from debut author Erik J. Brown. Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera, Alex London, and Heartstopper by Alice Oseman.
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. from Goodreads
The depth of my exhaustion of anything pandemic related cannot be overstated. Furthermore, I despise plague stories in general and struggle to enjoy post-apocalyptic tales. So, when I tell you I loved this book, you know that this is a unique and special story. I could not stop reading it and I can barely stand the thought of giving it back to the library. I know that I am going to need to buy a copy for myself.
Right from the first page, the author clearly and confidently sets the tone as he introduces first Andrew and then Jamison. The action is not unrelenting but it is obviously a dangerous world for these two teenage boys and under the surface of every interaction is fear. You can feel it as they count how many cans remain, as they take the guns outside to check the property, and the way they interact with each remaining human left on Earth. As they grown to trust each other more the friendship starts to develop into something else but there is something each boy is keeping from the other.
Andrew is keeping something from Jaime that feels huge and burdensome to him. Jaime is starting to feel romantic feelings for Andrew that are foreign and surprising to him. From an adult perspective, these may not be insurmountable secrets worth holding onto. But these are teenage boys. This is a YA story. And, to ask it to be something else is a mistake. I remember being a teenager and the absolute terror in wondering if a disclosure about my own self or, God forbid, a mistake I made would cost me a friendship. I cannot fathom what lengths I would go to to keep the only other nice human in my world safely by my side.
Equally so, I loved that this author recognized that the remaining humans would not all band together. Less resources always means the implementation of an “us” vs “them” mentality with the prioritization being the perpetuation of a healthy species. This book reflects that a world ending pandemic would not stop any phobias and would, more likely, increase them.
This book must be magic. All that trauma layered onto of my pandemic related exhaustion and I still loved this story. If you are seeking a queer love story about the end of the world, I highly recommend this one.
Tell me, please! How do you feel about post-apocalyptic stories?