Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It
By Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
October 2006

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

The Short of It:

After reading just a few pages, you won’t be able to put this one down. It’s scary at times but hopeful too.

The Rest of It:

I have read a lot of books about the end of the world. I’m not a morbid person but deep, deep down I do believe that something horrible could happen to the world as we know it. Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis (oh my!)…I had to toss that in there to lighten it up a bit. Anyway, with the weird weather patterns and the fear of a pandemic, Life As We Knew It is not all that farfetched. Really.

After the moon’s position is compromised by a meteor hit, Miranda and her family do their best to survive in a world that is completely different from what they’re used to. There are lots of things that I liked about this novel so I thought I’d stray from my usual format and make a list:

  • Miranda, at age 16, is very much a sixteen-year-old but emotionally strong when she needs to be.
  • Miranda’s mom is a sensible woman. I’ve read so many of these types of books where the mom is just the stereotypical “mom” and lacks any kind of common sense. Not the case here.
  • The family works together as a unit and it’s believable.
  • The other characters are actually important to the story and not just there to create conflict.
  • Pfeffer paints a realistic picture of what could happen given such a catastrophe. These characters are hungry and you feel it. As Miranda longs for a hot shower, you are reminded of how wonderful hot water can be. I mentioned above that it’s scary at times, scary as in “This could happen!”
  • Even though the subject matter is grim, there is a strong sense of hope throughout the story. This is incredibly hard to do but Pfeffer does it effortlessly.
  • Since this is a young adult book, I could easily see a teenager reading this and really thinking about how good they have it. As an adult, I know I spent many moments pondering what was on the page.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I expected it to be a page-turner, but I didn’t expect to care about the characters as much as I did and I didn’t expect to think about it days after reading it.

Life As We Knew It is book one in a series. The Dead and the Gone is book two and book three, The World We Live In comes out in April!

Source: Borrowed

21 thoughts on “Review: Life As We Knew It”

  1. I love this series. I just finished my ARC of This World We Live In yesterday and I can tell you that it’s amazing. As you said there is fear underneath but there is hope in this book. Great review

  2. My daughter and I both loved this book. Everything you said was dead on…it was scary, sad, grim but this family is a group of fighters that are figuring out how to cope. We immediately ordered The Dead and the Gone from the library, but my daughter is having a hard time getting into it. Once I finish what I am reading now, I will steal it from her and see what the issue is.

  3. I’ve not heard of this book or series and it sounds interesting. A book that has strong characters and is a page turner sounds like a great book.

  4. This sounds fantastic. I love the idea of a family working together for a change–I like to think that there are far more families like that than all of the dysfunctional ones we read about.

  5. >Even though the subject matter is grim, there is a strong sense of hope throughout the story. This is incredibly hard to do but Pfeffer does it effortlessly.

    That is an incredible endorsement as it’s hard to imagine hope shining through given the scenario you’ve described. This book would give my teens nightmares for sure, not to mention their mother!

    Good review!

    btw, I’ve given you the Prolific Blogger award. Visit me at for details.

    1. Yeah, it’s not graphic at all but the images stay with you. I’m not sure my 11 year-old could handle the mature themes.   Thank you for the award! I’m heading over now to check it out!  

  6. Okay… this is the second time I have seen this book on a blog this morning!

    I know I will enjoy the book if you do since we seem to have similar tastes (in most areas). Thanks for that! It makes selecting personal reading choices so much easier for me.

    Have a great weekend!

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