Tag Archives: Dystopian Fiction

Review: This World We Live In

This World We Live In
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 2010
239pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

The Short of It:

A solid follow-up to the first two books. Equally engaging but lacking that element of surprise.

The Rest of It:

This World We Live In is book three in the Life As We Knew It series and I must say, it has been a very enjoyable series for me. Not enjoyable in the traditional sense but there’s something to be said for a book that completely takes you away to another time and place. This place being a world, devastated by a catastrophic event where food and water are no longer a given. In this book, Alex and Julie from book two cross paths with Miranda and her family and they are all forced to live with one another while trying to figure out what do with the lives that they’ve been given. Do they stay? Do they leave? Is there a future for them somewhere else?

If I were in this situation, I’d be terrified of venturing out into the unknown. Especially if I had children that I was responsible for and this is the situation here. Laura, does not want to leave the house. She is comfortable at home with her four kids, Miranda, Jon, Matt and his new wife Syl,  but when Miranda’s dad shows up with his wife, a baby and three other strangers tension begins to rise. Some feel it would be better to move on, others feel it would be better to stay put and what about food? What little there was before now has to stretch to feed these additional people.

What I like about this series is that the characters are very resourceful and believable. There’s no getting comfortable when you have that many people trying to survive. They are constantly taking inventory and figuring out ways to get more of what they need.  I was also very glad that the story was told from Miranda’s point of view. Much of the story is shared through her journal entries which lend an authentic air to the story. What I didn’t care for, was how fast she and Alex fell in love. I know there’s the whole “end of the world” thing going on but it didn’t seem right. The two personalities didn’t mesh for me. That’s really a small quibble because even though I didn’t buy the relationship, it did symbolize hope and put a positive spin on an otherwise dire situation.

This book didn’t have the same feel as the first two books because we’ve already been introduced to what created this situation and we’ve already gotten a feel for what’s it’s like to be hungry (and cold) but I say… read it anyway. This is gripping stuff. Once you pick it up, you have to finish it. I know this is the end of the line as far as the series,  but it’s open-ended enough where there could be more books. Ms. Pfeffer? Are you listening?

Source: Jill was kind enough to send me her copy as I was like a puppy dog, pressing my nose up against the glass. Thanks Jill!

Fancy That! Genres Through the Ages

This is my first, official Fancy That! post.

Anyway, I was thinking about the types of books that I used to read when I was younger. When I was in junior high/high school, I read a lot of thrillers. Stephen King was, well…KING. I stayed up all night reading his books. When I ran out of King books, I turned to Dean Koontz. Someone asked me to read Watchers and I loved it. I think I went out and got all of his books after reading that one.

Sometime after that, I turned to historical romance. Yes! Me! Real bodice rippers too. I loved Johanna Lindsey. A friend of mine was a bit older than me and one summer she found herself hooked on them. She’d give me her copies but I also got quite a few of them from the library. I didn’t need sex education in school because these books told me all I needed to know and tossed in some historical stuff as well. Can teens check these types of books out from the library now? They have ratings for movies but not for books. Just wondering. I mean, would a librarian stop a young girl from checking out a book that might be too mature for her?

In college, I was exposed to a lot of different genres. Much of it was required reading but I didn’t care. I loved all of it. At that time, I fell in love with the classics but the genre that I really favored, was dystopian fiction and to this day, this is the genre that I really covet yet I have the hardest time admitting. Why do I have a hard time admitting it? Well, because for many, dystopian = fail. Meaning, that society has crumbled or fallen in upon itself and lots of people see that as depressing. I don’t see it that way at all though.

For me, I love to pick it apart. To see where society failed or better yet, to try to predict when it will fail. Orwell’s 1984 still resonates with readers today because the concept of Big Brother is more relevant now than it was when the book was first written (1949). BUT, when I read it back in college I could see all of that happening. It didn’t seem so far off to me and that’s how it is when I read dystopian fiction today. Volcanoes erupting, pandemics making themselves known, earthquakes…so many earthquakes. I’ve read all this in books, but have you taken a look around lately?

So my question to you is this, do you still love the genres of your youth? I can’t say that I love thrillers anymore even though I do read them every now and then and historical romance hasn’t had my attention since I put it down in the mid-eighties. I guess you could say that I outgrew those genres. What about you? Is there a genre that you used to love that you cannot read now?